Australian researchers to study how Tesla car batteries can power grid

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song//File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) on Wednesday said it would recruit Tesla Inc car owners around the world to analyse if the vehicle's spare battery capacity could support the energy grid and even power homes in the future.

The university has partnered with analytics platform Teslascope for the research project, which it said would be a world-first trial that would check how owners of electric vehicles (EV) currently drive and charge their vehicles.

For the first phase of the study, Tesla owners in Australia, the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Britain can apply. The programme could be expanded later to include other electric vehicle companies.

With increasing numbers of electric vehicles globally, scientists are looking to find how the batteries can provide other cleaner energy services besides helping lower emissions in the transport industry.

Researchers at UQ said most EVs are driven only one-eighth of its daily driving range of 400 km (249 miles), providing opportunities to store energy and export power to the grid using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers.

"(The study) will not only help to inform EV policy internationally, but importantly assess the feasibility of using EVs as batteries-on-wheels," Jake Whitehead, Research Fellow at UQ, told Reuters.

V2G technology is a connection between the EV and the grid through which power can flow from the grid to the vehicle and vice-versa. That potentially enables car owners to sell energy to the network, while utilities could use electric cars as a backstop during peak demand periods.

The study, which aims to initially recruit 500 Tesla owners, will collect usage data through the vehicle's software interface and in return users will be offered a free premium subscription to Teslascope for a year.

Australia last week pledged A$178 million ($132 million) to ramp up the rollout of charging stations for electric vehicles, but did not set targets to phase out petrol cars.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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