Hundreds of electric car owners are being sought for a study looking into whether Australia’s electricity grid will be able to charge millions of the next-generation vehicles by 2030.
The research, by the University of Queensland, will also test whether new electric vehicle owners can be tempted to change their charging behaviour to use solar power and what incentives would encourage them to do so.
The findings will added to data collected in a 2021 study that found three in four electric vehicle drivers were already charging their cars outside peak demand times.
Chief investigator Andrea La Nauze said the research team hoped to survey 400 Australian Tesla owners for the latest stage of the study.
Even though tens of thousands of electric vehicles were already being used in Australia, Dr La Nauze said little was known about when and where owners were powering their cars.
“We’re interested in charging behaviour, what determines charging behaviour and what consumers really want to shift their charging behaviour,” she said.
“We want to know how responsive they are to incentives and do they like pricing programs that encourage them to charge at different times of the day.”
The latest study, funded by Energy Consumers Australia, will give participants access to Teslascope software that will analyse their car’s driving and charging statistics and share them with owners and researchers.
An earlier study at the University of Queensland involving 230 electric car owners found 25 per cent charged their vehicle during peak electricity demand, 31 per cent recharged overnight and 44 per cent plugged the car in during off-peak daytime hours.
But Dr La Nauze said charging behaviour could change as more Australians adopted electric cars and added solar panels to their homes.
“Most charging is occurring outside that peak time but as we start to get a lot more solar on the grid we’re probably going to want to shift that charging towards midday,” she said.
More than 3.8 million electric cars are expected to be on Australian roads by 2030, according to federal government estimates, up from 83,000 electric vehicles earlier this year.
Brian Innes, from consulting firm Partners in Performance, said encouraging electric vehicle drivers to plug them in during off-peak hours would become more important as their numbers grew.
He said Australia was particularly well placed to accommodate electric vehicles due to its high solar energy generation.
“We need to make sure we look at EVs in a different way to the rest of the world, as if they are a solar sponge,” he said.
“The worst case would be we have a solar problem in the middle of the day and we stop a free resource coming into the system and we have all these EVs that plug in when people come home at night and add to a super peak.”
Interested Tesla owners can sign up to the University of Queensland research program at teslascope.com/research.
(Australian Associated Press)