Australia's Federal Government has provided funding for the nation-wide rollout of 150 smart electric car chargers in an effort to encourage the uptake of electric cars while mitigating their impact on the nation's electricity grid.
Through its Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the government has partnered with electricity provider Origin Energy, supplying a $838,000 grant to the two-year trial, which will provide chargers to both private owners and fleets.
Current and future electric car owners and fleet operators will be able to apply online to take part in the trial, which will provide Schneider EVlink wallboxes to those residing in the National Electricity Market states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
The AC chargers, which typically cost up to $3000 for the wall box and installation, will be fully subsidised for trial participants and offer 7kw of charging power to residential customers and 22kw for fleet operators.
The 'smart' part of the smart chargers refers to their ability to be controlled remotely via Origin's Virtual Power Plant platform, which uses artificial intelligence to monitor peak periods on the grid and distribute power supply accordingly.
“As the uptake of EVs increases, it will be important to efficiently manage the charging of vehicles, to avoid potentially costly impacts on peak demand, associated network charges and grid security issues," ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.
“Smart charging enables charging at times when demand is lowest and electricity is cheapest, which reduces the burden on the network and the cost to the customer."
The smart-charging project, which is expected to cost $2.9 million in total, will see Origin partner with Hyundai, Nissan, Custom Fleet, Schneider Electric, GreenFlux and Ausgrid and United Energy to deliver the chargers.
The Morrison government's involvement is two-pronged – it wants to "enable choice for consumers across all types of future fuels" as well as preventing a "rapid and unmanaged" uptake of electric cars from having "negative impacts on the electricity grid".
“The Government’s role is to support consumer choice for future fuel technologies and back new technologies through trials like this. These projects will help those Australian motorists who choose to drive an electric vehicle to do so,” Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said.
“As Australians choose future fuel technologies, it is important that energy market operators, energy companies and governments understand the impact EVs could have on our networks.
“Through this project, we can begin to understand how to minimise impact and maximise the benefit of new technologies on the grid.
The findings from the two-year trial will be shared in the hopes they will assist the automotive industry in improving the economics of electric cars for Australian buyers, as well as delivering insight for the broader energy market.
Origin Energy will be sharing details on how to apply for the scheme in the coming weeks.