Melbourne-based company Rectifier Technologies has unveiled its first two-way electric vehicle (EV) charger, that will allow homes and businesses to not only charge an EV, but also sell excess power back to the grid.
Known as “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G), this technology allows owners of EVs with bidirectional charging capabilities, such as the Nissan Leaf, to sell power back to the grid during times of peak demand, helping to trim power bills.
It’s a first for the power conversion company which also sells a range of battery chargers and power modules, and which has a number of global customers including Brisbane-based EV fast-charger maker Tritium, which supplies DC fast chargers to major EV charging networks such as Europe’s Ionity.
With the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) market forecast to reach a staggering $US18 billion ($A25 billion) by 2027, the announcement potentially places Rectifier Technologies with a first mover advantage.
As noted by Small Caps in April 2019, it was (and to our knowledge still is) the only publicly listed electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) distributor and component on the ASX.
Designed with tight car parking spaces in mind, the wall-mounted “Highbury DC” slim-line bidirectional charger has a top charge and discharge rate of 7kW, and will be available in late 2021 once the unit gains certification.
“The Highbury is unobtrusive and has been designed to fit most aesthetics, while being cost-effective for electric vehicle owners,” said Paul Davis, operation manager for Rectifier Technologies in a statement.
The Highbury DC unit will at first be certified for V2G operations, and the company says that further down the line consumers can expect to see vehicle-to-home capability – which would allow an EV to charge up a home battery – will be made available.
Vehicle-to-grid could be used by EV drivers in a number of ways. Free charging as a perk at work, and free DC fast charging deals from car makers would become even more attractive as drivers could opt to sell the electricity once back at home.
“Drivers will be able to re-charge their vehicles when off-peak energy is being funnelled through the grid, and they could do so at home, at work or even on the road with public charging infrastructure,” says Davis.
The Highbury DC unit could also assist in smoothing the grid, Davis adds, by using electric vehicles as a “distributed energy resource ” (DER), thereby creating a electricity economy wherein both grid operators and drivers can reap rewards.
“When feed-in tariffs are highest during heavy demand or the grid is experiencing a destabilising event, the Highbury can rapidly react to export energy and earn a return which offsets the cost of the electricity consumed,” says Davis.
“The Highbury will bring to the market a flexible approach to how people can financially benefit from the grid, while utilities will also benefit as electric vehicles can act as a dispersed power storage network.”
The company has not yet announced pricing for the unit, but says that its ease-of-use will ensure a worry-free installation.
“We want EV owners to be able to use this quickly and easily; when they plug it in, they don’t want to have to go through multiple stages simply to charge their vehicle,” he said. “They’ll be able to plug it in and it will begin charging. It just works.”
After the the 7kW single-phase bi-directional DC charger is rolled out, Rectifier Technologies has a number of other products in its roadmap.
“The roadmap includes more features for owners such as V2H (vehicle-to-home) operation, which will help to enable energy self-reliance and even home power backup,” says Davis.
“The roadmap also includes an 11kW, three-phase Highbury for faster charging and greater export power for commercial owners.”
While the company prepares for certification of the unit, it is looking for operators willing to help undertake a trial of the unit.
“We are now looking for trial operators in Australia to test how our Highbury and its bi-directional capability can benefit them and work as part of a wider grid featuring myriad energy resources,” said Davis.
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.