New V2G chargers progress Flinders University’s ‘virtual battery’ vision

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Flinders University’s Bedford Park campus in southern Adelaide is now home to a series of vehicle-to-grid chargers which enable two-way power exchanges, effectively turning electric vehicles (EVs) into mobile batteries.

The initiative is born of the partnership between Flinders and Engie and will see the university charge its EV fleet during the night from Engie’s Willogoleche Wind Farm, which sits about 200 kilometres north of the university. Intermittent daytime charging will be supplemented by Flinders University’s onsite solar, it said. The EVs will then be used as batteries feeding renewable energy back to the campus grid between 5-9 pm, when demand is highest and the grid is primarily supplied by gas.

Ten of the chargers will be located at Flinders University’s car park nine in Bedford Park, which is where the university’s current EV fleet is based. The other ten chargers will be at the university’s solar car park, where 4136 solar panels provide both power and shade.

The state government is supporting the initiative by providing more than $350,000 as part of the South Australian Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Trials. This funding will enable the university to procure a series of Nissan Leaf vehicles which come with V2G capabilities. 

“Our goal is to expand the Flinders University EV fleet so we can construct a 650 kW virtual battery, using both smart charging stations and vehicle to grid technology,” Flinders’ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling, said. 

“This will allow our fleet of security and pool vehicles to operate in a way that embodies renewable energy generation, reducing the university’s peak demand while delivering benefits for the SA grid.”

Melbourne-based Jet Charge, which has been involved in a number of V2G trials, installed the chargers. Its chief executive Tim Washington, is a firm believer EVs will replace stationary storage in homes.

In future, Washington – who is also the chairperson of Australia’s Electric Vehicle Council and co-founder of Chargefox– predicts EVs capacity to store and move electrons via V2G charing ports will eventually transform entire cities and electricity networks.

Flinders University today runs on 100% renewable energy through its campus-based solar arrays and its power purchasing agreement with Engie’s 119 MW Willogoleche Wind Farm.

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