Amber partners with Australian Renewable Energy Agency for EV and Vehicle-to-Grid optimisation

Amber and ARENA partner to pass more savings back to EV owners and accelerate the transition to net zero

In a nutshell:

  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) puts $3.2 million behind Amber’s vision of unlocking the next stage of the renewable energy revolution while putting cash into the pockets of everyday Aussies, helping everyday Aussies realise greater savings.
  • Over the three-year course of this Australian-first project, at least 1,000 customers will participate in Amber’s EV smart charging and V2G trial, with 150 customers set to receive subsidised charger installations in addition to the financial benefits gained from EV and V2G optimisation.
  • This trial aims to demonstrate that pairing EVs with Amber’s wholesale electricity model creates the necessary incentives for people to use and sell energy at times that are beneficial for the grid and the climate.
  • Learnings gained through the project and its participants will inform policy across Australia and encourage other industry participants to follow in Amber’s efforts.

In full

We’re thrilled to share that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is backing Amber’s vision for unlocking the next stage of the renewable energy revolution - pouring $3.2 million into funding our EV smart charging and V2G optimisation project.

Over the course of the three year project, now underway, at least 1,000 customers will participate in this EV smart charging and V2G trial across the ACT, NSW, QLD, SA and VIC.

The funding from ARENA will play a critical role in the development of EV charging optimisation technology, which is expected to keep cash in the pockets of everyday Aussies, while also offsetting the purchase and installation costs of chargers for 150 participating customers.

What makes this an Australian-first?

Through this ARENA-supported project, into which Amber will put an additional $4.5 million in funding, we intend to show at scale that:

  • Pairing EVs directly with the wholesale electricity market creates the incentives needed for people to use their cars to buy and sell energy at times that are beneficial for the grid and the climate - supporting grid stability and the renewable transition.
  • This increases savings for EV owners, giving them a faster payback on their energy investments and more self-sufficiency.

This is an Australian first due to:

  • The number of EVs set to be optimised like this
  • The inclusion of V2G optimisation
  • The fact that this optimisation will take place in line with wholesale energy pricing.

Why EVs and V2G play a fundamental role in the energy transition

Reducing carbon from our transportation is fundamental to Australia meeting its net zero goals for a couple of reasons. Carbon emissions from transport contribute 21 per cent of Australia’s overall Co2 output, making it the third largest source. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) also predicts we will need 18 GW of battery capacity by 2030 to close the gap between when renewable energy is being generated, and when it is most needed. This residential trial aims to demonstrate that these giant batteries on wheels can provide the energy storage capacity needed.  

A typical car battery can store enough energy to power an average home for up to five days and with the advent of bi-directional/V2G capabilities, also has the potential to send this energy back to the grid. The great news is that there is forecast to be five million residential batteries and electric vehicles in the homes and driveways across Australia between now and 2030 - equal to about 30 gigawatts (GW) of battery capacity.

As part of the project, enX consulting enX will provide independent verification of the extent to which this optimisation approach can support grid stability and the renewable transition, and they will also lead an independent verification of Amber's modelling to confirm potential customer savings.

Where we are today: smart charging pilot

Smart charging of EVs based on real-time wholesale prices has already kicked off at Amber. Today we’re grateful to have over dozens of customers who have volunteered to have their EVs optimised via the early version Amber for EVs. These drivers are being enabled to make the most of their excess solar energy (if they have it) and top up their car to their desired state of charge when the grid is flush with cheaper, greener energy. There’s still a way to go before we’re ready to launch - as we tweak the product based on customer feedback to make it as simple and in line with customer’s preferences as it can be. You can follow along with our progress.

While these customers test out the latest developments in Amber’s smart charging solution, others who join Amber for EVs with compatible cars/chargers today can start benefiting from EV charging in line with wholesale prices today, by using apps like ChargeHQ. Head here to sign up.

Up next: vehicle-to-grid (V2G) optimisation

In 2025, the second phase of the Amber/ARENA EV project will kick off: optimisation of vehicle-to-grid-capable EVs. This will see electric cars optimised to not only charge at optimal times, but also power their owners’ homes and sell power into the energy grid when it’s needed most - sometimes referred to as “bi-directional charging”. (Note, this phase of the project will progress pending necessary policy updates, plus availability of V2G-capable car and charging hardware).

We’re already getting a sneak peek today into what it will look like when we reach this frontier of the energy transition, thanks to pioneering Amber customers like Jai Nankivell in South Australia and Francis Clarke in New South Wales. They are among the first in their states to get access to V2G capable cars and bi-directional chargers, along with permission from their networks to take advantage of this next-gen tech.

With the direct access to the wholesale market that they receive as Amber customers, both have used their small but mighty Nissan Leafs to sell energy back to the grid at peak wholesale energy prices, earning hundreds in a night when prices have spiked. In each case, this outcome was achieved without the automated optimisation of their V2G set ups that this project is designed to enable - pointing to just how much value there is to be gained through the coming V2G optimisation.

As we look ahead, we’re excited to see how learnings gained through this project will not only benefit customers but how it will impact policy across Australia and encourage yet more innovation in this space.

The bi-directional revolution is coming and Amber and our customers are revving up to kick off what will be an absolute game-changer for Aussie households and for the energy transition.

Get involved!

Sign up to Amber today to take advantage of optimised EV charging, get a quote to see what you could save, or fill out your details here to learn more about V2G and get in line to be part of this Australia-first trial.

Read ARENA's press release here.