Vehicle-To-Grid Technology Could Enhance Australian Electricity Supply and Demand

SWITCH vehicle to grid car photo

The SWITCH prototype car is claimed to be the Australia's first vehicle-to-grid plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This means the car is not only charged from an ordinary power socket, but it can also feed power back into the electricity grid.
However, making claims of being first is as always a fraught exercise.

In this case, it may well be that Energetique's evMe car can lay dibs on the 'first' claim. However, crowing rights aside, both are interesting vehicle concepts and worthy of a quick peek.Researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) adapted a Toyota Prius (2006 model), by adding extra batteries, controls and connections in order so that it could both drawn down of and feed back to the grid. The State's Deputy Premier (and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change), Carmel Tebbutt, on launching the trial car late last month said, "SWITCH provides us with a glimpse of what a cleaner, greener future may look like in NSW." Going on to indicate that the SWITCH would save up to 2.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year while having a fuel cost equivalent of under 40 cents per litre compared to $1.50 per litre for a petrol-driven car.

The trial vehicle is being put through its paces as a fleet car for the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), who explain why such technology is not only of interest to transport boffins, but also renewable energy advocates.

PHEVs [plug-in hybrid electric vehicle] such as SWITCH that have feedback capacity can provide more secure local power and make clean energy options more attractive and viable. A PHEV can act as battery storage for electricity produced at times of low demand (such as overnight). The power that it stores can then be fed back during peak electricity demand. In this way it facilitates renewable energy by supporting variable output renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

UTS research project director Chris Dunstan said. "On a large scale, this could level out peaks and troughs in power supply across regions."

The Minister, admitted a financial incentive, such as a feed-in tariff, would be necessary to create demand from motorists for the new technology, and NSW has been talking about such a tariff coming on stream later this year.

But Mr Dunstan said the success of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in Australia would rely heavily on the support of energy companies to buy back electricity from motorists.

"If there is not the demand from the electricity industry to provide this power back in at a reasonable price and a rate that makes sense for consumers, then there is no point in pursuing the technology."

evme electric car photo

Photo: Energetique
Go Auto point out that the Mazda2-based evMe electric car (pictured above) manufactured by Energetique in Armidale (NSW) also has the ability to feed electricity back into the grid through an inverter (the same way photovoltaic solar panels do.)

In this case however, the evMe car is no government financed prototype, but a commercial venture, which is to said to sell for a scary $70,000.

Energetique are claiming that their evMe car would have a annual fuel cost of $260 compared to $624 for a 2008 Toyota Prius, while generating zero emissions -- if connected to renewable energy sources for charging. It's driving range is, on average, 200 km (124 miles) and it would need to charge for 15 hours (using a standard household power point) to achieve this. But can travel 50 km (31 miles) on a charge of less than four hours.

Via :: Sydney Morning Herald
Top Photo: Department of Environment and Climate Change
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