EV owners in South Australia can reportedly now apply to SA Power Networks to install V2G bi-directional chargers. While an important step towards making better use of electric cars, don’t get too excited just yet.
Electric cars can do much more than just transport us from point A to B. An EV can also be used to power appliances, homes and deliver grid services. But not all electric vehicles currently available have these capabilities, and their capabilities vary.
There are three technologies involved. Very briefly:
- V2L – Vehicle To Load (sometimes referred to as VTOL). Supports plugging external loads into the vehicle.
- V2H – Vehicle To Home. Allows the use of an EV as a (really big) home battery system.
- V2G – Vehicle To Grid. Specifically describes the ability for an electric car to discharge to the grid; but increasingly, to also power a home.
SolarQuotes has more detailed information on V2L, V2H and V2G here.
V2H and V2G require not only an electric car capable of supporting these technologies, but also a compatible bi-directional charger. Unlike a standard EV charger that only works one-way, a bi-directional charger operates from the charging source to the EV and from the EV to the grid and/or home. As such, there need to be specific standards, rules and regulations in place around their use.
SA Leading The Way On V2G
Discussion on national standards for bi-directional chargers is expected to kick off early next year. But according to Nissan, South Australians can now apply (via their installer) to SA Power Networks (SAPN) to get permission to install one of the beasties.
Nissan’s announcement refers to a specific bi-directional charger, the Wallbox Quasar. It’s going to be a pricey bit of kit initially – I’ve seen figures bandied about ranging from $10,000 – $14,000.
Nissan says JET Charge will be taking orders from South Australian customers starting late January. With regard to hard-wired EV chargers generally, SAPN states a charger needs to be purchased first before an application for approval for connection can be made.
Nissan’s pretty pumped about all this as the Wallbox Quasar is compatible with the Nissan Leaf.
“V2G transforms the Nissan LEAF from a vehicle into a mobile energy storage solution, at once meeting both your transport and home energy needs,” said the company’s National Manager of Electrification and Mobility, Ben Warren. “We’ve seen this technology deployed internationally, and it’s so exciting to now see it begin rolling out across Australia, first in the ACT with the REVS project, and now with our first customer site in SA.”
V2G A “No Brainer”
The first customer site in South Australia is at Ballycroft Vineyard and Cellars in the Barossa Valley.
According to Ballycroft owner Joseph Evans, he’s gone from forking out $6,000 annually for electricity to a zero bill – and making around $50 per week selling surplus power back to the grid. The large solar power system initially installed at the winery knocked $4,000 off his annual electricity costs. The combination of Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery) and Wallbox Quasar took care of the rest; plus his set-up provides a bit of drinking silver to boot.
“It makes me entirely self-sufficient with my power needs, makes my home and business more sustainable, and it’s so easy to use,” said Mr. Evans
Mr. Evans says the Nissan Leaf starts its day fully charged and is used to deliver wine to Adelaide daily. The EV is back at Ballycroft by midday, charging from the rooftop solar power system until around 6pm. Then from 6pm to 6am, the car is switched to discharge to power his house.
Given the vehicle starts its transport working day fully charged as Mr. Evans mentions, this could mean some mains grid power is involved. But since he has such a large solar power system (reportedly ~30kW), Nissan says the battery is topped up in the morning with solar electricity. No doubt the charging/discharging schedule and source vary with seasonal and weather conditions.
The Only V2G EV Show In Town
As the video indicates, Mr. Evans is more than a little convinced about the potential for V2G.
“If your next car is going to be an EV, and it should be, make sure it has Vehicle-To-Grid technology, like the Nissan LEAF,” says Mr. Evans.
At this point in time in Australia, such an EV wouldn’t just need to be like a Leaf, it would have to be one. It’s the only V2G compatible *fully electric* car available here at the moment. The Wallbox Quasar may be the only bi-directional charger available here for it too. The Quasar’s compatibility with other electric vehicles is also very limited (CHAdeMO connector); although the new Wallbox Quasar 2 (CCS) will offer much broader EV compatibility.
But still, exciting times ahead for electric vehicles in Australia. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future we’ll see some households that might have otherwise bought a home battery system opt for an EV with V2G/V2H capabilities instead. Kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour capacity, it could work out cheaper than some home batteries; including Tesla Powerwall.
And a Powerwall won’t take you to the shop.
Related: Learn everything you need to know about EV chargers, and check out Finn’s guide to solar power and electric cars.