By the end of 2020 Australians will be able to transport and sell energy using an electric car, changing the way we might think about and use energy, and potentially transforming the humble runabout into a virtual power station.
By the end of 2020, leading Australian electric car solutions provider JET Charge, based in Melbourne, hopes to make available a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging solution that it says will be as easy as plug and play.
CEO Tim Washington says electric vehicles owners using the technology will be able to use their EVs in novel ways to store, transport, use and sell energy, effectively becoming distributed energy providers as well as consumers.
“I think that vehicle-to-grid is more than the sum of its parts, it’s part of a re-imagining of electricity,” Washington tells The Driven.
“The car is just a conduit, you are able to imagine it as part of a wider system.”
Vehicle-to-grid technology, as well as vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology, allows EVs to help power a building, and is made possible by bidirectional charging capabilities of certain electric vehicles that use the CHAdeMO plug type (some examples are the new Nissan Leaf ZE1 and late model Mitsubishi Outlanders).
A recent report from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) noted the benefit that EVs could play in managing a grid characterised by distributed energy resources, by soaking up excess solar and then potentially sending it back to the grid with load management and vehicle-to-grid technology.
“It is expected that the system benefits of flexible charging may be achievable automatically in the future, without requiring conscious consumer action, due to digitalisation,” the report said.
“Vehicle-to-grid and home technologies may significantly increase the abilities of consumers to interact with the electricity market and this capability is being included in some new EV models.”
The Nissan Leaf ZE1 will be the first such vehicle available in Australia with bidirectional charging, although it has not yet completed its testing.
From 2025 there could be even more vehicles capable of the game-changing technology should plans to implement the capability to the CCS2 plug standard also come to fruition.
JET Charge is currently testing V2G charging units for use locally, in order to gain certification to make the units available for Australian homes and private businesses.
But with market trials of the V2G technology planned for late 2020, Washington says it should be commercially available by the end of the year.
Applications for the technology are many and varied, such as for example the opportunity for companies to offer EV charging at work for staff as a perk – something JET Charge already has in mind for its own staff.
“A practical example at our office is that we have over specc’d our solar,” says Washington.”We only need a 19kW system but have installed a 30kW system.”
Using company chargers top up their EVs, employees will one day be able to drive home and use their vehicles to charge their home.
First stop though will be vehicle-to-home charging (which we hope to update you on very soon), once Nissan makes it available in Australia.
“Generally for the first wave we’re seeing a vehicle-to-home scenario,” says Washington. “I think that’s going to be exciting.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.