The key to smart EV charging

Many people may assume that electric vehicles (EV) are just another way of getting from A to B, but they can and will do much more than that. 

With EVs expected to add 22 terawatt-hours of electricity demand to the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2040, EVs will have a huge role to play in the future energy grid.   

To help accelerate the take-up of EVs in Australia, we are running a Smart Charging Trial with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Smart chargers allow customers optimise when their EV is charged, for example when there is more low-cost renewable energy being produced, or to support the grid at times of peak demand.  

Since launching the trial, Origin has installed 108 smart chargers in homes and businesses across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. And in the process, we have learnt a lot about how EV owners are charging their vehicles. 

Who is driving EV uptake in Australia?  

Unsurprisingly, EV owners aren’t the average Aussie household just yet – they are early adopters who are already highly engaged with energy, with 89 per cent of trial participants having solar and 20 per cent owning a battery.  

For the most part, households with EVs already have established energy conscious charging patterns, with most opting to plug in every few days and when their battery is lower than 50 per cent.  

Our smart-charging trial has revealed three types of EV owners, with each to play a different role in helping to drive the next phase of EV uptake in Australia.  

Tinkerers are self-confessed energy geeks who love to optimise their energy consumption and costs and know exactly how to get the most out of their EVs, solar, and batteries.  

With a love of tech, trial participant Scott Dixon says, “I’m constantly monitoring our solar and electricity usage on the Origin app, so when I heard about the Smart Charging trial, I was keen to see how my EV charging behaviours would impact my energy consumption as well as demand on the grid.” 

Evangelists are not as proactive in the way they consume energy but love the idea of driving an EV. This group will be key to unlocking mass market uptake of EVs, influencing others with their passion for EVs. 

The majority of EV owners will eventually fall under the third group, Gets me from A to B. They see EVs as purely a mode of transport and are less concerned about actively managing their charging. Therefore to manage the forecast expected growth in EVs to ensure our system can accommodate the additional demand for electricity, smart charging solutions will need to be easy for this group of customers so they can charge their vehicles at the lowest cost and potentially realise benefits as well, such as connecting their EVs to a virtual power plant and be paid to support the grid at peak times. 

Driving mass adoption of smart chargers  

With commercial vehicles making up more than half of all new vehicle sales, businesses will play a key role in driving mass uptake of EVs and we found in our trial that EVs are one of the ways that businesses are looking to improve their sustainability.   

End-to-end fleet management solutions, such as Origin’s 360 EV Fleet, will help support businesses on this journey by simplifying the process.  

Kingspan, a global leader in insulation for low carbon buildings, has just signed up with Origin 360 EV Fleet as part of their goal to electrify their transport fleet by 2025. It will be adding the Hyundai Kona EV to its Australian fleet and participating in Origin’s smart charging trial. 

“With our global goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all of Kingspan’s global operations by 2030, accelerating the electrification of our transport fleet here in Australia is a priority,” says Sheahan Dhason, Financial Controller, Kingspan (Asia Pacific), “We already have a 750kW solar system with Origin, so this really is an extension of the cleaner and smarter energy solutions they are already helping us with.”  

So, what comes next?  

The first phase of the trial has been to see how our customers are charging their EVs today. The next phase will focus on implementing smart charging with participants, with the complete trial findings to be released at the end of 2022.  

Want to learn more about the interim findings of our smart charging trial?

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