Batteries on wheels trial gets $3.2 million boost

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Australian-headquartered energy retailer and tech company Amber Electric has received a $3.2 million (USD 2.3 million) grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) toward their $7.7 million electric vehicle (EV) smart charging and bi-directional vehicle-to-grid (V2G) software solution trial.

Amber will put an additional $4.5 million into the project to show at scale that pairing EVs directly with the wholesale electricity market can incentivise people to use their cars to buy and sell energy at times beneficial for the grid.

The project will demonstrate the effectiveness of their wholesale electricity cost pass-through model when paired with optimised use of EV chargers, rooftop solar and home batteries to increase customer savings and enable greater utilisation of renewable energy at times when its generated.

Amber Electric co-Chief Executive Officer Chris Thompson said the project is a huge opportunity and if the pool of EVs is engaged, there’s an incredible opportunity for customers too.

“Customers can go from a world where they have a petrol bill and a utility bill to where there’s actually no petrol bill and getting a utility credit, over and over again,” Thompson said.

“Then you really start to drive renewable transition and as in the news at the moment, the talk about spending who knows how many millions of dollars going nuclear, the idea of actually just letting customers earn that money instead by using the EV they already own to power their house and their neighbours’, it feels like such a no-brainer.”

Amber Electric co-Chief Executive Officer Dan Adams said V2G, and smart charging technology has the potential to be one of the most groundbreaking technologies to enter the Australian energy sector.

“This technology represents a transformative leap for energy storage in Australia, and the energy system as a whole. By integrating electric vehicles with the grid and the wholesale energy market, we can reduce costs for consumers whilst accelerating the transition to renewable energy,” Adams said.

“Our customers will be able to directly compete with big coal and gas generators just by smart charging and discharging their EV battery. This innovation not only strengthens our energy infrastructure but also aligns with a commitment to a sustainable future.”

Modelled growth in EV fleet usable battery capacity over time, from the enX V2X.au Summary Report.

Image: enX

Amber and ARENA describe the ‘Batteries on Wheels: Unlocking value for customers through smarter charging’ project as an Australian first, due to the number of EVs set to be optimised, the inclusion of V2G optimisation and the fact this would take place in line with wholesale energy pricing.

The optimisation of V2G-capable EVs will see them charge at optimal times, and power their owners’ homes and sell power into the energy grid when it’s needed most through bi-directional charging.

The V2G phase of the project will progress pending necessary policy updates, plus availability of V2G-capable car and charging hardware.

One thousand customers in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia and Victoria will participate in the trial over the next two years with the V2G scope expected to begin mid-2025.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said the project would provide insight into pathways for commercialisation of smart charging and V2G as well as uncover unique insights into consumer habits.

“With accelerating uptake of electric vehicles in Australia, this project will develop and demonstrate new ways for consumers to unlock value from their consumer energy resources and facilitate greater use of renewable energy,” Miller said.

ARENA’s funding will help to support the development and implementation of the software solution and the rollout of the chargers.

As part of the project, ACT-based distributed energy resource integration consulting service, enX will lead an independent verification of Amber’s modelling to confirm potential customer savings and assess the ability for smart charging and V2G to support grid stability and the renewable transition.

Earlier in 2024, enX delivered the ARENA-funded V2X.au Summary Report, which highlights that the proper implementation of V2G infrastructure, when complemented with supportive network tariffs, can have significant benefits for consumers.

The report also considers that bi-directional EV charging is potentially one of the largest and lowest cost sources of energy storage.

The Batteries on Wheels project funding has been awarded under the Driving the Nation Fund which invests in cheaper and cleaner transport with a focus on supporting the uptake of EVs through management and innovation in public charging.

Since 2020, ARENA has announced grant funding of $97.4 million towards the decarbonisation of transport including public charging infrastructure, fleet decarbonisation and innovation in charging.

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