22 June 2021

How your EV will stabilise the grid and power your home

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
2021 Nissan Leaf e+

The 2021 Nissan Leaf e+ can feed electricity back into the grid and power homes and businesses, as well as get you from A to B. Photo: Nissan.

It’s so much more than a car. That’s the promise electric vehicles hold for households, businesses and the electricity grid.

That’s because they are essentially batteries on wheels, and those that can discharge power into premises and the grid could play an integral role in an eventual entirely renewable power system.

A pioneering pilot program using the ACT Government car fleet is about to launch in the ACT that will test the ability of bi-directional EVs to help stabilise the grid and their potential to be a power and income source.

A consortium comprising the government, ActewAGL, Evoenergy, SG Fleet, Jet Charge, ANU and Nissan is behind the $6.2 million project, which has attracted $2.4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The federal agency sees the potential of more distributed energy storage connected to the electricity grid but has concerns about the impact on the grid of big power dumps at fast-charging stations.

New generation EVs, with the ability to give and take power, open up new possibilities for the renewables revolution. At present, the only vehicle with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability in Australia is the Nissan Leaf.

Under a just-awarded $1.5 million contract, Jet Charge will provide charging stations, smart meters and monitoring equipment for 50 Nissan Leafs operating normally within the government fleet using 50 bi-directional chargers.

The government says that if a Leaf is plugged in and a signal is received saying the frequency in the grid is beginning to drop, the vehicles can discharge some of the energy stored in their batteries back into the grid, helping to raise the frequency to an acceptable level and stabilise it.

Any electricity discharged will also generate revenue, and the trial will also determine how much could be made from doing this.

Traditionally provided only by coal, gas and hydro-electric power stations and more recently batteries, Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) are used by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to maintain the frequency on the electrical system and provide a fast injection or reduction of energy to maintain grid stability.

The project will be the first time that a fleet of vehicles using bi-directional chargers will supply FCAS to the National Energy Market, helping to improve energy security and avoid blackouts.

It will also be the first time an EV fleet will be paid for providing electricity services, offering a model that could improve the total cost of owning an EV.

ANU renewables researcher Andrew Blakers recently told a Legislative Assembly committee that households would not need a separate battery backup system to support their power needs

This is because their bi-directional EV and smart meter will tell it when to re-charge at the most affordable time, and when the grid could do with an injection.

Seen on a mass scale, it would mean every EV would be part of an interconnected system and contribute to a stable grid.

Fleets make up more than half of all new vehicles sold annually in Australia, and the results of this trial will guide the future procurement choices of private and public sector fleet managers.

ActewAGL will run the trial, and the ANU will collect the data and analyse the results.

The chargers will be installed across 12 ACT Government sites: Philip, Belconnen, Gungahlin, Tuggeranong, and Civic Health Centres; Nature Conservation House, Belconnen; Cosmopolitan Building, Woden; 2-6 Bowes Street, Woden; Health Protection Services, Holder; and Winyu House, Gungahlin.

In a separate initiative, the ACT Government will also install 50 public rapid chargers across Canberra, and these are expected to be available by June 2022.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Dear Ian,

I’ve asked you for an articulate and intelligent response to one post. I’ve recently added another post.

One that engages with ROI for potential investors in energy efficiency would be welcome.

Mind that you don’t have to sell us two on that for housing, which for retired folks is a far bigger issue than their transport choices.

There’s certainly a nuclear reaction from the usual suspects here any time renewables are mentioned.

Nuclear – the Greens say no
New hydro dams – the Greens say no
Windfarms in remote areas – Bob Brown says no

This is a joke, right?
Renewables are problematic as they do a very good job at destablizing the grid, so now they plug in EVs to stablize what the same greenist nonsense has previously destablized.
The greenist movement has zero understanding of actual engineering.

Maate, it’s called Return on Investment aka ROI.

IF a couple / family already own a < 10 yr old low to medium-mileage petrol car, there is NO financial case for them to buy an EV.

Constant articles about EVs here, simply serves to irritate folks with their $ heads screwed on.

Since 1980 how much have you done to reduce your energy consumption? Esp. via your residence, which is chewing energy, if you have A/C, even in Summer.

The house we bought in 1981 runs almost exactly due East-West,

That was its main attraction. The second was that it was not particularly clean inside, and the gardens were mostly weeds, it had not sold for a good while.

It now has the north side 80% covered by a 90% width and deep shaded deck.

The roof space has R6.0, the walls R3.0, and the floors have a layer of foam between the original tongue & groove timbers and the laminated flooring. LDRoom has wool-carpet over thick foam rubber.

IF you vote 'green' why haven't we all been demanding that all new houses have energy-efficient alignment for warmth in winter?!

This coalition (with Greens) government, is heavily reliant on revenue from land sales.

LBNLeast – The problems with the national electricity grid are not due to the rise in alternative energy sources, but mostly to over-investment in poles and wires, by the grid operators over the last decade.

Best direct the grievances at those trendsetting Liberals in NSW.

Yay, more subsidies for the rich at the expense of the poor.

HiddenDragon5:34 pm 21 Jun 21

Some interesting perspectives here, particularly about batteries past their used by date for vehicles –


Capital Retro11:09 am 22 Jun 21

All that link gives me is a link to an invitation to by a subscription to a paper in New York.

Great, I’ll spend $70k so I can save on my electricity bill

We’ll buy an EV when hell freezes over.
i) they are expensive cf. the vehiclewe already have, MYr 2015, we are retired > 70 and the vehicle has only 78K kms on it.
iii) The issue here is called ROInvestment and your desire to promote EVs will NOT affect people who can do an ROI
iv) an articulate and intelligent response, please, that is, IF you can come up with one.

;- )

The day EVs stabilise the grid, will be the day pigs fly. In recent proclamations, this regime has told us that gas will be phased out in the ACT, that all vehicles in the ACT will transition to battery power, and that the ACT will not accept any electricity from coal or gas generation. The only way we will have enough stable power to supply all of this is from nuclear power, so stop faffing around with scraps of power from here and there, and dust off the 1960s plan to build a nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay.

Except the clear evidence is that the transition away from fossil fuels is well underway with renewable energy sources likely to exceed fossil fuel usage within the next decade.

Anyone that thinks this isn’t the case, clearly isn’t looking at the trends.

I agree the trend is away from fossil fuels, so that all our coal derived electricity, gas derived heating, and and oil derived transport will be from non-fossil fuel electricity. But, wind and solar will not be able to supply all of this 24/7/365, so we need nuclear.

Capital Retro1:49 pm 21 Jun 21

In the meantime I will be storing petrol for the cost of it and the container only so when the lights go out I won’t have an EV with a flat battery stranded on my driveway so I can be mobile.

Yeah I know, you renewable/EV enthusiasts will say “we have storage batteries” and yes, they are obtainable but at great cost and they need to be recharged (from where?)

And I say the “trends” about transition are a crock. It won’t happen.

Except no one is saying that wind and solar are the only renewable technologies available.

AEMO shows over the past 12 months 23% of electricity came from renewables (solar 4%, wind 11%, hydro 8%), and 77% came from fossil fuels (black coal 52%, brown coal 18%, gas 7%). These figures are for the National Energy Market (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA). So, if we add all the electricity still generated from fossil fuels, add all the heating garnered from our gas supply, and all the energy from oil used for transport, then that is too much to be sourced just from renewables. We need nuclear to cover all the energy currently derived from coal, gas and oil, and governments need to pull their finger out.

‘We want this’, so we can feel good, from people who can’t understand that lots of consumers instinctively understand their particular ROI, on their current vehicle.

In 2020, 27.7% of electricity generation came from renewable sources.

5 years ago, that figure was 14.6%.

Almost all new generation projects are for renewables. Large parts of our coal generation assets are reaching end of life in the next 10-20 years and will be replaced by renewables.

The change that people like Capital Retro say wont/can’t happen just ignores the fact that it already is happening.

As I’ve always said, this is not an overnight thing but the transition is already well underway even with a Federal government who has at best been ambivalent and at worst actively hostile.

So Tim, where is anyone telling you you have to buy an EV now? Noone is, and most will purchase an EV when it stacks up for them, which for many is indeed not now.

OpenYourMind3:12 pm 22 Jun 21

Nuclear is deader than dead. Nobody will build a nuclear plant in Australia. Nuclear is gob-smackingly expensive compared to renewables and nuclear keeps getting more expensive, while renewables get cheaper. Two major nuclear constructions companies have gone belly up. Nuclear is just not going to happen.

According to the World Nuclear Association, in April 2020 there were 440 operating nuclear power reactors around the world, 55 under construction, 109 planned, and 329 under proposal. Doesn’t sound dead to me.

Interestingly, one year later, that number is down to 100 under construction or “planned”, with another 300 “proposed”.

And this is coming from an association designed to promote the nuclear industry, the chances of most of the “proposed” facilities ever going ahead is very, very low.

You’ll also find that almost all of those are in China, India or Asia where they either lack space or have massive growing (mostly industrial) electricity demand.

And even if you took their predictions as gospel, you would see that under their figures, the total proportion of power generated from nuclear drops in the next 20 years.


There is a 1600MW under construction in Finland to be opened next year, a 1600MW in France to be opened in 2023, 3 x 1200MW under construction in Turkey to be opened in 2023/24/25, 2 x 1600MW under construction in the UK to be opened soon, 2 x 1250MW under construction in the US to be opened in 2021/22, to name a few not in Asia. Many say we want to get away from fossil fuels ASAP, and so we should, and then we shun the obvious option of nuclear.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.