Free EV charging could be possible, research shows

Researchers have shown through a new study that it could be possible to provide electric vehicle (EV) charging free of cost or at least at a very nominal price through optimisation of solar PV system and minimising workplace electricity costs.

Engineering researchers based at the University of South Australia (UniSA) Mawson Lakes campus say that using renewable energy to power EV day charging is the key, lowering electricity grid demand in the evening and helping to support Australia’s net zero emission targets by 2050. At the campus there are solar panels on 18 buildings, supplemented by ground-mounted solar panels. The 2019 installation was based on energy needs at the time, but prior to the rapid uptake of electric vehicles.

A new model proposed by the UniSA research team shows that by nearly doubling the existing PV system on campus, free charging could be available to more than 200 electric vehicles – or 25% of the available parking spots on campus.

By introducing a nominal charging fee, the campus could support 100% EV penetration in the future, saving more than 20% in energy costs.

UniSA Professor Mahfuz Aziz, Dr Mohammed Haque and UniSA PhD researcher Yan Wu have published their findings in the journal Renewable Energy.

“By optimising the PV system, more energy would be exported to the grid, which does not attract any revenue. However, providing EV charging services at a nominal fee using the excess PV generation is a sensible solution.

“By doing so, the campus can potentially support 800 EV cars, the maximum number of parking spaces at Mawson Lakes, while incurring almost the same annual energy costs as that for 25% penetration with free charging.”

The researchers used data from the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (VISTA) to obtain average daily travel distances and campus arrival/departure times. The modelling based on this data was further validated using actual parking data from Monash University’s Clayton campus.

“Workplace charging of EVs helps address this challenge by using excess renewable generation during the day. Prioritising daytime workplace charging reduces pressure on the grid during the evening peak hours by decreasing the demand for home charging of EVs.

Dr Haque says Australia would use solar more efficiently if it established comparable EV charging infrastructure in private and public facilities.

“This initiative not only helps in achieving a more balanced grid demand profile, but also promotes a greener environment,” Dr Haque says.

Ravi Mandalia

Ravi has a masters degree in computer science with specialisation in Network Security and Compliances. He has been at the helm of many news portals and Indian Science is his latest venture.

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