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The challenge

Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles

Currently, the transport sector is Australia's third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, behind burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and stationary energy (manufacturing, mining, residential and commercial fuel use), and ahead of agriculture. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) can have a huge impact in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector — they're a cleaner option, even if their charge comes from grid power only.

But electric vehicles need widespread charging infrastructure, which may place strain on the electricity grid.

Our response

Plugging into solar

To address this challenge, the Victorian Government provided funding to CSIRO, Nissan Australia and Delta Electronics to create a system linking solar photovoltaics, a battery and smart charging technology.

Combined, this makes a solar-powered electric vehicle charging system, which draws upon renewable energy to charge a vehicle at any time of day, and in any weather, with little impact to the electricity grid.

CSIRO electric vehicle is charged using solar energy.

CSIRO researchers at the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems developed and tested the system, and implemented thermal management controls, in a demonstration system that enables four cars to connect to a single inverter and battery.

The results

Hybrid system overcomes energy management challenges

The demonstration EV charging system was successful in linking solar photovoltaics, a battery and smart charging technology, and overcoming the complex energy management challenges of differing availability and supply characteristics of grid, battery and PV-derived electrical power.

Three solar charging modules have been installed at Nissan Headquarters in Dandenong, each capable of charging four vehicles at a time.

Field trials of the system are continuing — watch this space for the next steps for this exciting technology.

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