Canberra isn’t always linked to the most exciting happenings across the globe, outside of its political responsibilities, but it’s set to become the home of a huge electric vehicle (EV) trial, the first of its kind for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) experimentation.
This week, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced a $2.4 million investment for ActewAGL, in a bid to prove V2G viability across Australia.
V2G technology works by essentially operating as a set of batteries on wheels, and allows EVs to get rid of electricity back to the main grid, or even help support grid security in the long-run.
How can electric vehicles help our grid?
The project – titled Realising Electric Vehicle-to-Grid Services (REVS) – will include 51 Nissan LEAF EVs rolled out across the Australian Capital Territory, as a way to test the ability to use V2G services like this.
With the ability to be plugging into the National Electricity Market (the grid), the EVs will be able to provide what’s known as Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) – according to Mirage News.
This kind of FCAS technology has so far been used across coal, gas and hydro, with batteries the most recent addition. It’s also used by the Australian Energy Market Operator to keep the frequency of electrical units running at the pace they need to be, in order to give on-demand increasdes or decreases in energy to stabilise the grid at certain times.
This project is the first time that a fleet of EVs has been used with new bi-directional chargers to distribute FCAS to the NEM. This kind of innovation means its also the first time an EV fleet will rake in money for its electricity services and support – inevitably a new stream of revenue if it proves successful.
However, the project will need cooperation from a number of bodies and companies. It will see ActewAGL work alongside names like the Australian National University (ANU), SG Fleet, Evoenergy, the ACT Government, JET Charge and Nissan.
The ACT currently uses combustion engine vehicles for its work across the state. The 51 EVs from Nissan will replace these and will be utilised during average business hours. When they’re not on the road, they’ll be plugged in, allowing for approximately 70 per cent availability in way of resources for grid support.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said this project is a big first step for seeing how EV technology can help maintain the stability of the NEM and grid.
“ARENA is focused on commercialising technologies than can aid the integration of EVs into the electricity system,” he said.
“Given its potential capability to provide similar services as household batteries, V2G has the opportunity to transform a vehicle into a revenue-generating device for consumers, through access to energy and network service markets and also to provide power solutions for the grid.
“As EV uptake grows, this project will help to unlock a future where EVs are just as critical a piece of the electricity sector as the transport sector.”