CSIRO solar tech powers electric cars

Friday, 11 October, 2019

CSIRO solar tech powers electric cars

CSIRO has developed solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging technology that connects EV charging stations with energy generated by rooftop solar panels. Developed with the Australian household in mind, the charging stations will overcome challenges associated with EV charging, including managing temperatures on hot days and alleviating stress on the grid during peak periods

CSIRO researchers — in collaboration with Delta Electronics and Nissan Australia — developed and tested the system, incorporating a range of heat management strategies to ensure batteries are charged and discharged efficiently.

The technology supports charging of multiple vehicles in areas with limited access to grid power — such as home garages and public carparks — where the charge rate would otherwise be limited. With more EVs on Australian roads, demand for infrastructure is growing and placing stress on grid-powered charging stations.

Lead researcher Dr Christopher Munnings, from the CSIRO Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems, said up to 90% of EV charging was likely to take place in the home.

“A normal household battery system is typically not powerful enough to charge a car on a hot day as it can overheat and slow down,” Dr Munnings said.

“We’ve devised a way to manage the temperature of the battery, minimising the amount of power required from the grid. In a multi-EV home, this system will automatically monitor each car, spreading the load between the battery, solar PV and the rest of the home.

“This means the cars charge as quickly as possible, using as much sun as possible, without the need to upgrade grid connection. This technology could accelerate the widespread rollout of EVs across the country.”

Three solar charging modules have been installed at Nissan Headquarters in Dandenong, each capable of charging four vehicles. The modules will be tested and evaluated over 200 days, including the peak summer period.

Nissan Australia Managing Director Stephen Lester said, “Nissan is proud to partner with CSIRO and Delta Electronics to deliver this innovative trial and acknowledges the investment of the Victorian Government in supporting this project.

“A study of this nature will enable greater EV adoption both here and around the world reducing impact on the grid,” Lester said.

Following the test period, the project partners will evaluate data collected throughout the trial, with the intention of confirming associated environmental and cost benefits.

Image caption: An EV is charged at the solar charging station. Image ©CSIRO.

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