NSW network operator Ausgrid is hosting an “open discussion” on electric vehicles on Wednesday night in an effort to explore how the network can best support EV users, and how EV users – as owners of mobile distributed energy resources – can best support the grid.
The forum, to be held at Ausgrid’s Sydney offices, hopes to get feedback from customers and industry stakeholders on the challenges faced by current and potential future EV users, as well as about their charging habits.
“We know there is strong interest in electrical vehicles throughout parts of our network area and we want to be able to support them as best we can,” an Ausgrid spokesperson told One Step Off The Grid on Tuesday.
“The aim of this discovery session is to get information that may help shape potential investigations into how the network could best support EV users.”
Of key importance to Ausgrid, of course, will be gauging the potential impacts – positive and negative – on the electricity network of a greater uptake of EVs.
As a Rocky Mountain Institute report in February noted, the role of electric vehicles as a grid asset will be an area of great interest in 2017, as more and more car makers start targeting the EV mass market.
“2017 is going to be the year we see automakers, charging network operators, and others get serious about expanding DC fast charging and charging networks more broadly,” the report said.
“Research has shown that it takes relatively few EVs on one distribution feeder to have a significant effect on the overall performance of the grid. As a result, stakeholders are looking for tools and programs to leverage EVs as a grid asset rather than a liability.”
For networks like Ausgrid, getting to know customer car charging patterns – and using incentives to ensure they are predictable – will be key to finding this balance.
Ausgrid also told One Step it hoped to get a better understanding of the challenges – potential and current – faced by EV users, including those without off-street parking, who may not have the ability to install a home charging point.
“The discussion is the start of an information gathering process to help us better meet the needs of our customers with an interest in EVs,” the spokesperson said.