Finland-based smart electric vehicle charging heavywieght, Virta, has officially launched on the Australian market with the unveil of the first superfast EV charger it is rolling out in partnership with Australia’s Tetris Energy.
Virta has been a key player in some of Europe’s biggest EV markets since 2015, with more than 500,000 EV drivers and 250,000 charging points signed up to its network.
Tetris Energy – a subsidiary of Tetris Capital and best known as a developer of solar and battery storage projects – in April announced a move into e-mobility, starting with a Memorandum of Understanding with Virta.
The deal, reported here on RenewEconomy – agrees to develop an initial EV smart charging portfolio valued at $A30 million, with a focus on the installation of a range of technologies across destinations like universities or office buildings, with a particular focus on Victoria.
The fast charger unveiled on Thursday – the first to be connected to Virta’s network in Australia – is installed at the Melbourne University Boat Club, a state Heritage Listed rowing clubhouse on the Yarra River.
The partnership combines Virta’s platform, Tetris Energy’s development and funding capability and the superfast charging hardware from Kempower – also a Finnish company.
Smart EV charging, honed in Europe
Some of the features of the Virta smart charging platform include bi-directional charging capability to allow V2G (Vehicle to Grid) charging, smart charging optimisation and demand management, and automated invoicing and platform management.
Having added its name to the list of Virta’s more than 400 partners around the world, Tetris says its role in the company’s expansion into the Australian market will include site identification, development tasks and funding of EV chargers.
Tetris in April said it saw the partnership as a sort of extension of its battery storage portfolio, in terms of the key role “batteries on wheels” are expected to play in the renewable grid of the future.
“Our attraction to Virta was that it brings the smarts to the regular charging hardware, particularly around V2G and charging optimisation,” said Tetris Energy director Frank Boland, at the time.
The right time for Australia to ramp up shift to EVs
In comments this week, Boland says the time is right for Australian businesses to fast track their installation strategies in the soon-to-be multi-billion-dollar EV charging market.
“The success of fast EV acceleration is highly dependent on the charging infrastructure. From the business point of view the best locations and basis for future market share is laid within the coming next few years,” Boland says.
“Tetris Energy and Virta’s goal is to be the optimal partner for them by bringing the best available solution including Kempower chargers from European markets.”
In his own comments at the launch on Thursday, Virta CBO and co-founder Elias Pöyry offered some hints as to why it has taken until the end of 2022 for his company to reach for the Australian market.
“Australian federal government as well as the states are strongly committed to the future hydrogen ecosystem, digitalising energy system and stationary battery storages.
“However, the pivotal role electric cars can play in relation to energy storages and hydrogen is not yet truly clear in the strategies,” he said.
“We believe electric cars are in the coming years the most cost-efficient way to provide short term flexibility to energy system as aggregated resources.
“Also, best benefits of the hydrogen ecosystem may be achieved through using hydrogen in the form of electricity in mobility instead of fuel cells.
“Virta is enabling the technologies for state-of-the-art smart charging and energy optimisation with experience from the fastest
growing e-mobility markets in Europe to allow fast growth of Australian players in the industry.”
Sophie is editor of One Step Off The Grid and deputy editor of its sister site, Renew Economy. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.