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Electric vehicles: Supporting uptake, investigating smart charging

smart charging

This PhD thesis focuses on understanding how EV owners currently use and charge their vehicles through the analysis of local and overseas usage data. More broadly, Australian consumers’ willingness to purchase an EV, and participate in smart charging programs will be explored.

Both light and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to act as energy storage devices using smart charging infrastructure to improve electricity grid stability, increase the utilisation of renewable energy, and reduce both transport and energy costs.

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’.

This thesis aims to help inform how EV uptake can be accelerated in Australia, while supporting the efficient integration of EVs into the electricity grid, including the increased use of renewable energy.


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Project background

Transportation accounts for about 24% of direct carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion globally. Demand for transport is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades. Without major initiatives to decarbonise the sector, carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector could increase by about 75 percent by 2050, as estimated by the International Council of Clean Transportation (ICCT) in 2020.

It is imperative that the transport sector adopt sustainable, net carbon zero options to support global efforts to restrict global warming to 1.5° Celsius. Electrification of transport has been identified as one of the major pathways for reducing emissions.

However, EVs are relatively new compared to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), and like many other new products, could take many years to achieve mass adoption through normal product adoption pathways. The urgent need for rapid reductions in emissions necessitates the acceleration of the adoption of this technology.

This thesis aims to understand how EV adoption could be accelerated, specifically through leveraging the broader associated energy benefits, while supporting grid stability and increased uptake of renewable energy. By leveraging EVs as batteries-on-wheels and deploying 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.

Key to enabling these energy benefits will be the support of consumers. Consumer preferences towards using EVs for these purposes is unknown, and as such, a major gap in the current literature.

As such, this PhD is aimed at studying consumers preferences towards EVs, current and emerging charging behaviours of EV owners, and the average consumer’s willingness to use their EVs to provide energy services through smart charging program, including V2G. The outcomes expected from this PhD are:

  • Identifying consumer preferences towards EVs in laggard markets and variations in preferences over multiple years
  • Investigate the role of smart charging technology, include to V2G, in terms of consumers’ willingness to adopt EVs
  • Understand driving and charging behaviour of current EV owners in Australia and overseas
  • Assess the feasibility of using a fleet of EVs to provide energy services in Australia, based on consumer preferences, and charging/driving behaviour

Project objectives

The primary project objectives are to:

  1. Inform policy for increasing the uptake of EVs in laggard markets such as Australia
  2. Predict the number of EVs on Australian roads in the coming years
  3. Investigate scope of smart charging techniques such as V2G in promoting EV adoption
  4. Predict the number of EVs/ EV owners who would be willing to participate in V2G in the coming years
  5. Outline the scope and potential of EVs as batteries-on-wheels

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