CSIRO researchers are testing new electric vehicle charging technology that maximises the use of rooftop solar generation, and minimises demand from the grid, as they seek to head off the not-too-distant future challenge presented by mass EV charging at times of peak demand.

In a state government funded collaboration with Delta Electronics and Nissan Australia, three solar and battery backed EV charging modules – each capable of charging four electric vehicles – will be put to the test.

Delta Electronics developed the cabinets that combine a solar system with battery storage and EV charging, while the CSIRO focused on the module that integrates with solar and battery systems.

The charging systems, which have been installed at Nissan headquarters in Dandenong, will be trialed over 200 days, including the peak summer period, to evaluate off-grid EV charging with solar power and battery back-up. The cars used with Nissan Leaf EVs.

In a separate statement, Nissan Australia said key infrastructure had already been installed at the Dandenong site, including a 5kW solar system to power two charging units at the front of the head office, and another two charging units connected to a 10kW solar system at the rear of the property.

The technology incorporates a range of heat management strategies to ensure EV batteries are charged and discharged efficiently, even on the hottest days of summer – when demand for grid supplied electricity is often at its peak.

It also supports the charging of multiple vehicles in areas with limited access to grid power, where the charge rate would otherwise be limited. This includes the average home “garage,” where the CSIRO expects 90 per cent of EV charging is likely to take place.

The key goal of the technology is to recharge EVs as quickly as possible, using as much solar energy as possible, without the need to upgrade grid connection.

“A normal household battery system is typically not powerful enough to charge a car on a hot day as it can overheat and slow down,” said CSIRO lead researcher to the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems, Dr Christopher Munnings.

“We’ve devised a way to manage the temperature of the battery, minimising the amount of power required from the grid.

“In a multi-EV home, this system will automatically monitor each car, spreading the load between the battery, solar PV and the rest of the home.

“This means the cars charge as quickly as possible, using as much sun as possible, without the need to upgrade grid connection.

“This technology could accelerate the widespread rollout of EVs across the country.”

Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester said the car-maker – and mass-market EV pioneer, via its hugely popular Leaf – was proud to take part in the innovative trial.

“A study of this nature will enable greater EV adoption both here and around the world reducing impact on the grid,” he said.

And Victorian energy and climate minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, welcomed the project as an important step towards transport emissions reduction.

“We know we need to reduce emissions in the transport sector and one of the best ways we can do that is to support partnerships like this one,” she said.

“By encouraging electric vehicle take up, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and increase job opportunities in Victoria.

“This battery smart storage platform means electric vehicle drivers can travel more confidently and enjoy the drive.”

Following the test period, project partners will evaluate data collected throughout the trial, with the intention of confirming associated environmental and cost benefits.

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