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Australian Smart Grid demand management project shows EV drivers could halve charging costs

In Australia, as part of the Victorian Government’s Electric Vehicle Trial (earlier post), DiUS Computing delivered a demand management demonstration project using Victoria’s Smart Grid. The project, which ran from June to December 2012, was the first end-to-end use of Victoria’s Smart Meter infrastructure for electricity demand management.

The results of the project, released this week in a project report available via the DiUS website, showed that drivers could save around $250 each year—about 50% of their charging costs—just by using grid-friendly smart charging technology.

ChargeIQ, a DiUS Computing-developed EV charger that allows drivers to lower their charging costs through flexible energy pricing, was the only EV charger used in the trial. Developed over three years, ChargeIQ is the first ZigBee-certified EV charger with the ability to communicate with Smart Meters, DiUS says.

The home charging solution deployed for the project integrated the vehicle, the grid and the driver seamlessly and effectively. Differences were observed in the control strategies for different vehicle types, and grid integration required an approach tailored to the arrangements adopted by the electricity utility. The drivers received and responded to information provided through the web, their smartphone and via email/text message. The project home charging solution was successful in bringing these elements together with little effort from drivers or the electricity utility.

DiUS said that the results of the project also demonstrate how the relationship between utilities and consumers is a key to delivering the best outcomes for all. Consumers have indicated a willingness to defer vehicle charging, including having it managed remotely, if provided with easy, convenient and financially-beneficial options. For a utility to control a potentially significant load on their network, consumer cooperation may be increased through the provision of real-time information via the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Key findings from the demonstration project fell into three main categories: system integration; consumer Home Area Network (HAN) connectivity and reliability; and system response times. Recommendations from the project included:

  1. Victorian Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs) should work together to streamline market access arrangements for Smart device providers, and consideration be given to coordinating these arrangements at a national level.

  2. Clarity is needed around the expected service levels for the Consumer HAN, particularly once the connection has been established; an investigation into the service levels under various scenarios should be considered to inform the standard.

  3. Responsibility for Consumer HAN operation should be formalized.

  4. The roles, responsibilities and cost-ownership/recovery associated with remedy of Consumer HAN connection issues should be clarified, for instance to facilitate installation of a Smart Meter range-extender to enable participation in utility demand management.

  5. Guidelines should be developed for consumer HAN alternatives. In some situations connectivity may not be possible using wireless techniques (for example, apartment buildings with meters located in a basement); third-parties could play a role by providing technical solutions for connectivity, however this may require arrangements whereby access to facilities is granted, both from the premises owner (or body corporate) and the DNSP.

  6. Consumer HAN system response performance levels should be established. The Victorian AMI functional performance specification established performance levels for the AMI system upstream of the Smart Meter; additional performance levels should be considered for the meter to the HAN device.

  7. Demand management device capabilities should be certified.

  8. Consumer-oriented approaches should be taken to communication of demand management events.

  9. Utilities should consider their preferred approach to network-level demand management and define this for the specific demand management application.

  10. The cost versus benefit argument for consumer adoption of demand management technologies should be considered by device suppliers, utilities and policy-makers.

  11. Device providers and utilities should design demand management strategies that reflect demonstrated user behaviors, include the use of default settings to promote preferred behaviors, and take a holistic approach to the demand management strategy design that includes consumer information, feedback and response.

A spokesperson from project partner United Energy, an electricity distributor servicing the core of the Melbourne metropolitan area, said the utility was open to technologies and innovations that could make better use of the electricity network and benefit all Victorians.

The Victorian Government’s $5-million Electric Vehicle Trial will run until mid-2014.

DiUS’ involvement with Victoria’s Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program began in 2006. Since then, DiUS has helped a number of Australian utilities with technology strategy, planning, architecture, design, build, testing and procurement related activities for their AMI solutions.



It is in everybody's interest to do this.
The grid get to sell power when they have a surplus, and avoid people charging when they are busiest, the user gets lowest rates.

Mostly, it just means getting people to charge at night, times of wind availability are too variable.
If it were in Germany, you might want people to charge when there was a surplus of solar power, which is around midday.

But then they would have to be able to charge at work, which is a bit more complex (or it requires 2 chargers per car). (But as long as the chargers are made in Germany, the taxpayer can subsidise them).

Thomas Lankester

@mahonj I don't get your point about just charging at night because 'times of wind availability are too variable'. The whole point of a smart grid is to enable near real time adjustment to changes in the generation / demand balance. So you can plug in at 6pm and unplug at 7am with the grid / car working out the optimum time(s) to charge up.

As to daytime charging at work, car park charge posts normally sit between parking bays with 2 sockets. I.e. you get two cars per charge post.


Dynamic vehicle charging can help, but even half a Chevy Volt per capita is just barely enough to manage Germany's existing RE generation peaks.  This doesn't look like it can scale well enough to handle the issue alone; there's going to have to be a lot more DSM out there than just vehicles, or the RE schemes are just not going to work.

Roger Pham

Good point, E-P.
Electrolyzers for making H2 and FCV using H2 can help PHEV's take up the slack in managing RE generation peaks. FCV with waste heat available for cabin/windshield heating is great for Germany's cold climate, enabling high efficiency of H2 utilization. PHEV's with H2-FC as range extender is even better, since the battery pack is used in warmer weather when waste heat is not needed, while the FC will be used in colder weather to take advantage of waste heat, while capable of 100% zero-emission at the tail pipe (if any).


Improved vehicle cabin insulation and ventilation would require 60+% less heat to keep driver and passengers comfortable. Windows with Gorilla glass (coming out next year) would also help while being much lighter than current automobile glass.

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