New research explores electric vehicle solar charging

CSIRO Nissan EV solar trial

A new Australian research partnership will trial solar smart technology to support electric vehicle (EV) charging, even in the height of summer.

The new partnership between Delta Electronics, Nissan and CSIRO is trialling technology that links rooftop solar and batteries to EV charging.

With more EVs on Australian roads, demand for infrastructure is growing and placing stress on grid-powered charging stations.

New solar-powered EV charging stations will maximise use of renewable energy, with the potential to alleviate stress on the grid during peak periods.

The charging stations were developed with the Australian household in mind, overcoming challenges associated with EV charging, including managing temperatures on even the hottest days.

The technology also supports charging of multiple vehicles in areas with limited access to grid power – such as home garages and public carparks – where the charge rate would otherwise be limited.

The EV chargers in the trial are also compatible with all EVs currently on the market.

The trials will test both fast and slow charging scenarios relevant to a range of Australian electricity grid and environmental conditions, particularly in regional and rural areas.

CSIRO Delta Electronics Nissan EV solar trial

CSIRO researchers developed and tested the system, incorporating a range of heat management strategies to ensure batteries are charged and discharged efficiently.

Lead researcher from CSIRO’s Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems, Dr Christopher Munnings, said up to 90 per cent of EV charging was likely to take place in the home.

“A normal household battery system is typically not powerful enough to charge a car on a hot day as it can overheat and slow down,” Dr Munnings said.

“We’ve devised a way to manage the temperature of the battery, minimising the amount of power required from the grid.”

In a multi-EV home, the system will automatically monitor each car, spreading the load between the battery, solar PV and the rest of the home.

“This means the cars charge as quickly as possible, using as much sun as possible, without the need to upgrade grid connection. This technology could accelerate the widespread rollout of EVs across the country,” Dr Munnings said.

Three solar charging modules have been installed at Nissan Headquarters in Dandenong, each capable of charging four vehicles.

They will be tested and evaluated over 200 days, including the peak summer period.

Nissan Australia Managing Director, Stephen Lester, said, Nissan was proud to partner with CSIRO and Delta Electronics to deliver the trial.

“A study of this nature will enable greater EV adoption both here and around the world reducing impact on the grid,” Mr Lester said.

Following the test period, project partners will evaluate data collected throughout the trial, with the intention of confirming associated environmental and cost benefits.

The commercial field trials are the final stage of this new technology’s development. Once commercially ready, the new technology will bring two charging platforms to the market.

Victorian Government backs the project

The EV solar charging trial received funding through the Victorian Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund.

Delta Electronics received $210,000 from the third round of the Fund to help further test and fine tune these next generation EV charging systems, which also include battery storage, in real-world applications.

The New Energy Jobs Fund supports growth in the uptake of renewable energy generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, driving innovation in new energy technologies, and assists community groups to develop renewable energy projects.

The Victorian Government is putting more clean energy into the grid, increasing investment and driving down energy prices as part of its commitment to increase Victoria’s Renewable Energy Target (VRET) to 50 per cent by 2030.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “We know we need to reduce emissions in the transport sector and one of the best ways we can do that is to support partnerships like this one.”

“By encouraging electric vehicle take up, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and increase job opportunities in Victoria.

“This battery smart storage platform means electric vehicle drivers can travel more confidently.”

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