Could EVs help power homes? Tesla owners invited to join global research

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Tesla owners around the world are being invited to take part in research looking into whether their cars’ spare battery capacity could be used to support the electricity grid and even potentially help power homes. 

More and more EVs are going onto the roads of developed nations with a driving range of 400km between charges, yet most of these cars are being driven less than 50km a day.  

Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) have launched what will be a world-first research project which is to be co-funded by IMove Australia Cooperative Research and an Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship. UQ is partnering with Tesla’s analytics platform Teslascope to recruit owners to take part in the study which will look closely at driving and charging behaviour.

Project leader Dr Jake Whitehead, an e-mobility research fellow at UQ, says the study is all about finding a way to use the spare energy capacity to absorb renewable energy generated during the middle of the day and overnight – traditionally times of low demand on electricity grids – and potentially even export energy to power homes and support the grid in the future using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers. 

“We have a unique opportunity through this project to better understand EV driving and charging behaviour in different markets, and what are the opportunities to use EVs to provide energy services and generate extra income for owners in the future,” he said.

IMove MD Ian Christensen said transport accounts for about 24 per cent of direct carbon-dioxide emissions from fuel combustion globally, with demand for transport expected to grow significantly in the coming decades.

“Electrification of transport has been identified as one of the major pathways for reducing emissions – and by leveraging EV battery spare capacity and using smart charging technology, excess solar could be absorbed by vehicles parked during the day, and potentially discharged to support the grid during the evening using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) infrastructure,” Christensen said.

“For smart charging infrastructure to deliver these benefits, EV uptake must be significantly increased, and importantly, EV owners must be willing to use their vehicles as ‘batteries on wheels’.” 

Initially, the university aims to recruit 500 Tesla owners in Australia, the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the UK, who can express an interest in joining the trial here

Using Teslascope’s platform to collect vehicle usage data without any hardware, but by directly pulling data – with the owner’s permission – through the vehicle’s API. In exchange for agreeing to participate in the study, users will be provided with a free 12-month premium subscription to Teslascope.

As more EV manufacturers integrate API access to their vehicles, UQ plans to expand the research to include other vehicle brands and their drivers. 

“With the support and trust of users, we will be able to use these learnings to influence government policy – including the rollout of public charging infrastructure,” said Dr Whitehead. 

“We also aim to use the findings of this research to address some of the common misconceptions about how EV owners use their vehicles, and highlight how this technology provides far greater benefits, than risks, to the energy sector.”

Related news: ABB’s new fast EV charger can power up any vehicle in less than 15 minutes

  • Main image: @permagrinfilms via Twenty20.
Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.
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