The CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship scientist, Dr Phillip Paevere, told iTWire today that running as an all-electric vehicle, the modified Toyota Prius will travel at up to 70 kilometres an hour over a distance of 40 kilometres, which is more than a normal Prius running in all-electric mode.
Dr Paevere said “this car is ideal for running over short distances, taking the kids somewhere or doing the shopping, and as battery technology improves so will vehicle speeds and distances.”
CSIRO engineers have modified the PHEVs to carry a 30Ah NiMH battery which they say is capable of holding a 6kWh charge, and a battery charger, to allow the cars to plug into and charge with electricity from the grid or from on-site renewable energy sources. The conversion of the car took scientists only one week to complete using the kit developed by enthusiasts in the US.
Dr Paevere said the road trial is collecting extensive information on how the existing PHEV technology could be used for a new application, using the car as a large mobile battery which can be integrated and used in the home.
“The PHEVs have been fitted with instruments which will monitor the travel patterns of different users, and the residual battery power left in the car at the end of the day, which could be available for other uses.
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“When not needed, the parked car in the driveway could potentially become a large battery store and energy source for the house, running appliances or storing off-peak or surplus electricity generated from on-site renewable generators, such as solar panels.”
“The introduction of electric vehicles into the mainstream market could have a significant impact on the electricity network. They may also dramatically affect the output at residential and retail outlets and the forecasted growth of peak and base demands.”
According to the CSIRO and SP AusNet, Australia’s transport sector accounts for 14 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and it says the PHEVs have the potential to “reduce our emissions and may also provide a way to manage peak demand on the electricity grid.
They also say that, by controlling when PHEVs are recharging from the electricity network the burden of demand can be shifted, and Dr Paevere says that, furthermore, the car battery can be drawn upon to provide “power during peak periods of demand, prevent blackouts when there is a network supply interruption and assist in maintaining the overall stability of the network.”
Dr Paevere says the road trial is the first phase in understanding the potential for using PHEVs in Australian homes, and for now the PHEV technology will also be used in the home energy system of CSIRO’s Zero Emission House (AusZEH) project, with the demonstration home open to the public in summer this year.