Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

17 November 2021

The battery on wheels strategy will be investigated by UQ

This article was originally published on In Queensland.

The University of Queensland will trial a scheme that could see the spare capacity of electric vehicles used to potentially power homes or support the electricity network.

The so-called push-pull, or bi-directional strategy already exists elsewhere in the world and Nissan has previously claimed that the 62kWh battery in its Leaf e+ vehicle could store enough energy to power an average Japanese home for up to four days.

The idea is based on the fact that the average car only travels about 50km a day but an electric vehicle has the capacity to travel about 400 to 500km, which leaves a lot of latent capacity.

It opens up the possibility of selling the stored capacity in car batteries into the grid.

Only a few cars come with the technology to allow the push-pull charging and the RACV said those units would cost between $5000 and $6000.

The UQ trial will recruit 500 Tesla drivers and will look at driving and recharging behaviour across the globe. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is holding a similar trial but limited to Canberra.

E-mobility research fellow at Dr Jake Whitehead said there was a unique opportunity through this project to better understand the behaviour of EV owners and what opportunities there were to use the latent capacity of EV batteries.

He said with the support of the Tesla drivers the study could be used to influence government policy, including the rollout of public infrastructure.

“We also aim to use the findings of this research to address some of the common misconceptions about how EV owners use their vehicles and highlight how this technology provides far greater benefits than risks to the energy sector,” Whitehead said.

The study is being jointly funded by iMove Cooperative Research and Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship.

iMove managing director Ian Christensen said the excess solar generation in the middle of the day could be used to charge EVs and the excess discharged during the evening.

“For smart charging infrastructure to deliver these benefits, EV uptake must be significant increased and, importantly, EV owners must be willing to use their vehicles as batteries on wheels,” Christensen said.