Renewables developer Tetris Energy has made a move into Australia’s burgeoning e-mobility sector, with the announcement of a new partnership with Finnish smart electric vehicle charging heavyweight Virta.
The two companies revealed this week that they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop an initial EV smart charging portfolio valued at $A30 million, with a focus on the installation of a range of technologies across destinations like universities or office buildings.
The MoU is an interesting one for Tetris Energy, which has previously specialised in solar and battery storage projects, and currently has an 80MW solar farm with 20MW battery underway in Yass, in NSW, and some 180MW of wind in the development pipeline in Queensland.
Helsinki-based Virta, which was founded in 2013, describes itself as the fastest-growing electric vehicle charging platform in Europe, operating in over 30 countries, with a focus on developing “future-proof” EV charging businesses.
So far, the company claims to have more than 500,000 active monthly EV drivers and access to more than 250,000 charging points in its platform’s network and through roaming.
“Our digital platform connects all of the key players in the electric vehicle ecosystem and provides services for the entire value chain,” the company’s website says.
Some of the features of the Virta smart charging platform include bi-directional charging capability to allow V2G (Vehicle to Grid) charging, smart charging optimisation and demand management, and automated invoicing and platform management.
Having added its name to the list of Virta’s more than 400 partners around the world, Tetris says its role in the company’s expansion into the Australian market will include site identification, development tasks and funding of EV chargers.
Beyond playing a role in the decarbonisation of Australia’s passenger vehilcle fleet, Tetris sees the partnership as a sort of extension of its battery storage portfolio, in terms of the key role “batteries on wheels” are expected to play in the renewable grid of the future.
“Our attraction to Virta was that it brings the smarts to the regular charging hardware, particularly around V2G and charging optimisation,” said Tetris Energy director Frank Boland.
“Tetris can supply the power, can buy hardware and put it in, but being more involved in the application of [the smart charging platform] is a bit more interesting,” he told RenewEconomy on Wednesday.
And with the backing of parent company Tetris Capital, which has deep experience in developing a wide variety of major infrastructure projects, Boland believes there could also be some initial opportunities setting up charging at some of the assets Tetris has delivered.
These assets include hospitals, university campuses and schools, and range from the Flinders University Health and Medical Research Building that is under construction in Bedford Park, South Australia, to the Karratha Fly-In-Fly-Out Accommodation project in Western Australia.
“It’s a natural fit,” Boland added. “With some of our large infrastructure projects, it makes sense to put charging assets at those facilities that are not just chargers, but offer a range of services.
“We see that from our batteries; the way that [grid connected] batteries operate, they offer so much. And if you can leverage that with EVs, then that’s going to be really valuable.”
For Virta, the company sees Tetris’ experience and assets across renewables and social infrastructure as a valuable base from which to enter the Australian market, which it says poses unique challenges to the rollout of EV charging networks due to its landscape and geographical distances.
“That is why we are extremely excited to enter the markets with Tetris Energy, who have in-depth knowledge and relationships within the Australian infrastructure and energy markets,” said Elias Pöyry, Virta’s chief business development officer in charge of market expansion.