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ARENA backs new $2.9m EV smart charging trial

Plugged in: Origin Energy’s new smart charging trial will analyse EV driver charging behaviours and attitudes while also reducing strain on the electricity grid.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency contributes $838,000 to smart charging trial

7 Aug 2020

THE Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has contributed $838,000 to a new electric vehicle (EV) smart charging trial designed to “evaluate the benefits of and barriers” of controlled smart charging, set to be carried out by Origin Energy Ltd.


The $2.9 million trial will see 150 smart chargers installed at the homes and workplaces of EV owners and drivers across Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in an attempt to better understand their driving and charging behaviours as well as gauge their willingness to accept third party charging control and what incentives could be needed to encourage future participation in charge management programs.


The chargers themselves will be controlled and monitored by Origin’s own software systems in the hope of avoiding any negative impacts on the electricity grid and “maximise the

use and value of renewable energy”.


Origin future energy and technology executive general manager Tony Lucas said he hoped the trial would help the company better understand how it can maximise the benefits to customers by offering products that reduce their EV charging costs.


“Origin has developed a leading artificial intelligence orchestration platform, with a wide range of distributed assets, such as storage, residential air-conditioning systems, pool pumps and industrial coolers, already connected and continuing to grow,” he said.


“Using the platform, we will be able to remotely switch chargers on and off, or higher or lower, in response to changes in wholesale prices, with benefits for customers in terms of lower charging costs and the National Electricity Market as we can more efficiently manage demand and supply in the system.


“We want to get people thinking about EVs as more than just a car and saving on petrol, they will double as a battery storage in the home and be connected to virtual power plants or used for grid stabilisation, all of which will significantly reduce payback periods and improve the economics of EV ownership for many Australians.”


Set to run over two years, ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the trial will help demonstrate how the Australian electricity grid can successfully integrate increasing numbers of EVs while limiting costly network expansion.


“As the uptake of EVs increases, it will be important to efficiently manage the charging of vehicles, to avoid potentially costly impacts on peak demand, associated network charges and grid security issues,” he said.


“Smart charging enables charging at times when demand is lowest and electricity is cheapest, which reduces the burden on the network and the cost to the customer.”


“It is well known that electricity costs much less than petrol in terms of powering cars and light-duty commercial vehicles.


“However, EVs provide additional economic opportunities for consumers through the potential of further reduced electricity costs from higher network utilisation and possible revenue generation via technologies such as vehicle-to-grid technology which ARENA is also supporting.”


The vehicle-to-grid technology in question forms part of a $6.6 million trial being carried out in Canberra by ActewAGL.


Announced last month, the ActewAGL trial will be carried out using 51 Nissan Leafs and will explore the potential benefits of EVs discharging electricity back to the grid when not in use and when network demand is high.

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