Electricity networks to manage EV charging in ARENA funded trial


Energy infrastructure company Jemena is set to run a residential electric vehicle (EV) charging trial along with four other electricity networks in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Victoria (VIC), and Tasmania, thanks to $1.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 

The electricity networks include AusNet, Evoenergy, TasNetworks and United Energy, trialling the use of smart charging hardware directed by signals from networks instead of electricity retailers. 176 residences will take part. 

The $3.4 million project is not the only EV charging trial ARENA is currently helping to fund. Indeed, ARENA committed $2.9 million to a 250-home trial with AGL in November, 2020. 

The purpose of the project is to help prepare the electricity system for the role played by EV charge management. Each relevant network will therefore install monitoring tools provided by JET Charge in each home to gauge the impact of EVs and then utilise that information on an aggregation platform operated by the network to control the EV charge. 

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that this is the first time networks will be managing EV charging. “​As the penetration of EVs increases,” said Miller, “it will be important to manage and orchestrate the charging of vehicles to avoid negative impacts on networks and costs and ensure the optimal outcome for all parties.” 

Jemena Networks Executive General Manager Shaun Reardon said that managing the extra consumption, particularly in neighbourhoods that already have high EV uptake, is key to ensuring the continued adoption of EVs in Australia. 

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor commented that “An unmanaged uptake of EVs could have negative impacts on the electricity grid if a large number of vehicles are charged at home during peak periods. This trial will give us greater understanding of how to integrate future fuel technologies in Australia without compromising our energy grid.” 

While polls show a growing number of Australians believe electric cars are the future and support national EV policy, penetration of EVs in Australia lags behind many developed nations. This has not been helped by VIC and South Australia announcing a road tax on EVs, which, considering taxes are supposed to be applied to products the government wants to disincentivise, makes about as much sense as a quantum equation written in Wingdings.

Nevertheless, ARENA has already supported Origin and ActewAGL in trialling different technologies and approaches to accelerate the commercialisation of managed EV charging and V2G services respectively, as well as supporting the rollout of two fast charging EV networks across Australia by Chargefox and Evie Networks.

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