ANU is conducting an Aussie-first trial to see whether electric vehicles can be used as backup for the power grid

Image: Nissan
  • The Australian National University is conducting an Australian first trial to see whether fleets of electrical vehicles can be used as a backup for failures on a power grid.
  • The trial will include 50 ACT government Nissan LEAF EVs, allowing their batteries to power the grid.
  • Research lead Dr Bjorn Sturmberg said in a statement, “If all of Australia’s 19 million vehicles were electric, they would store more energy than five Snowy 2.0s.”
  • Visit Business Insider Australia‚Äôs homepage for more stories.

The Australian National University (ANU) is working on an Australian first trial to determine whether batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) can be used as back-up power for the electricity grid.

The trial comes as part of the Realising Electric Vehicles-to-grid Services (REVS) project, which aims to check how feasible vehicle-to-grid (V2G services) are. The two-year project received $2.4 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)’s Advanced Renewables Program. And it involves a group of organisations across the transport and electricity supply chain including Nissan, ActewAGL, Evoenergy, Sgfleet, JET Charge, the ACT Government and of course, ANU.

ANU’s team is researching the technical, social and economic aspects of V2G services. Their study will involve 50 ACT government Nissan Leaf EVs and one ActewAGL Nissan Leaf EV, allowing their batteries to give power into the grid to prevent blackouts almost instantly.

Research lead Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, from the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU, said in a statement the ultra-fast reactions of EV batteries make them very good at balancing the grid.

“One EV battery typically contains as much energy as an average household uses over two-to-four days and can react to events in a tenth of a second,” he said. “If all of Australia’s 19 million vehicles were electric, they would store more energy than five Snowy 2.0s, or over 10,000 Tesla Big Batteries.”

Tesla first built its battery in South Australia back in 2017. While it initially had the capacity to store 100 megawatts, that figure was since increased to 150 megawatts under an expansion plan announced in 2019.

Sturmberg added that the ANU project has the potential to create a more resilient energy system.

“We know V2G works in the lab but we need to demonstrate the reliability and viability of V2G services in the real world at scale,” he said. “We need to prove the control, coordination, and cybersecurity of the technology systems, as well as the crucial business and regulatory models to make V2G attractive to all stakeholders.”

But before field testing, the team is using the grid simulation facility at ANU.

According to the Electric Vehicle Council 6,718 EVs were sold in Australia during 2019, a major increase from 2,216 in 2018.

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