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Bright sparks: How Aussie homes could soon be powered by electric cars

A $7.7 million project will test whether electric vehicles can be used as “batteries on wheels” to power Australian households after the company behind it secured significant government investment.

Jun 20, 2024, updated Jun 20, 2024

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Thursday announced it would invest $3.2 million in the trial held by Amber Electric that would test residential smart chargers and vehicle-to-grid technology in homes.

The project, which will be held in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, is expected to begin mid-next year.

The announcement comes months after a report from the agency found electric vehicles could “earn” as much as $12,000 a year by acting as storage for renewable energy and feeding it back into the grid, and the vehicles could deliver one of the lowest-cost energy solutions on the market.

Victorian firm Amber Electric will develop smart software to support the trial and will install 100 smart chargers and 50 vehicle-to-grid chargers in residential homes.

At least 1000 customers will be invited to participate in the two-year trial, with vehicle-to-grid testing expected to begin in 2025.

Amber Electric co-chief executive Dan Adams said the technology had the potential to transform Australia’s energy system, reducing costs for consumers and boosting the use of renewable electricity.

“Our customers will be able to directly compete with big coal and gas generators just by smart charging and discharging their EV battery,” Adams said.

“This innovation not only strengthens our energy infrastructure but also aligns with a commitment to a sustainable future.”

The renewable energy agency’s chief executive Darren Miller said the trial could provide useful insights into future policies and a larger rollout of vehicle-to-grid technology that could help stabilise the national network.

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“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,” he said.

Vehicle-to-grid technology, also known as V2G, allows electric cars to store solar energy and feed it back into the electricity grid when needed.

South Australia is currently the only state that allows use of the technology in homes, and SA Power Networks has trialled it with Nissan and Mitsubishi cars since 2022.

Bi-directional chargers needed to support grid connections can cost around $10,000, but the Vehicle-to-Grid Insights report released by the agency in February found electric cars using the technology could earn as much as $12,000 a year.

The study, prepared by consultancy Energeia, also found using vehicle-to-grid technology was unlikely to significantly impact a driver’s experience or degrade the electric vehicle batteries.

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