The Federal Government has committed $2.9 million to a new three-year electric car charging trial, with plans to equip roughly 250 homes with free or subsidised charging stations and develop the technology for smart charging and vehicle-to-grid power exchanges.
The Government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has partnered with energy company AGL – which is committing a further $5.3 million – on the project to bolster the nation's charging infrastructure and manage its impact on the electricity grid.
The trial will also mark the first time vehicle-to-grid (V2G) electric cars will be deployed in a residential context in Australia, allowing customers to power their houses with their cars and export excess energy to the grid.
The trial also involves charging infrastructure companies JET Charge, Chargefox and FlexCharging, and will recruit around 300 electric car owners across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
The electric car owners involved in the three-year trial will be those who sign up to AGL's recently announced Electric Vehicle Plan, with 200 of them to receive free smart chargers and 50 of them to receive bi-directional chargers at a reduced price for their Nissan Leaf vehicles.
Another 50 internet-connected Tesla owners, who already have their own chargers, will have their charging monitored by AGL.
The government's portion of the funding will be put toward hardware costs, installation costs and software development.
AGL says customers involved in the trial will also receive regular bill credits, offsets for household emissions and access to an app for setting charging preferences and being notified of major charging events.
“As more Australians switch to EVs, it will be important to manage and orchestrate EV charging to avoid potentially costly impacts on peak demand, associated network charges and grid security issues," ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.
"EVs also provide economic opportunities for consumers through the potential of reduced electricity costs through higher network utilisation and the potential to generate revenues that would reduce the cost of car ownership."
The $2.9 million funding commitment comes after ARENA committed another $838,000 to a two-year trial of smart-charging infrastructure with Origin Energy, as well as providing a $3.5 million grant to charging provider Jet Charge to develop its smart-charging technology.
It also joins ARENA's $74.5 million Future Fuels Fund, which will subsidise the adoption of electric charging infrastructure in businesses and regional communities.
Following the announcement, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor reiterated the government's commitment to supporting consumer choice in the electric vehicle space, rather than backing any single technology.
“As the uptake of electric vehicles continues in Australia, we are investing in the technology and infrastructure required to ensure motorists can access what is best for them,” said Minister Taylor.
“By trialling new charging technologies within the home, we will better understand the impact EVs could have on our networks and how to save consumers money as they charge.
“The Government is backing a range of technologies, not picking one winner. This follows our ‘technology not taxes’ approach to reducing emissions.”
MORE: Electric car news