Participation and sensemaking in electric vehicle field trials: A study of fleet vehicle-to-grid in Australia

We have just published a new article from the REVS V2G trial about how participants in a field trial – in this case, the fleet, sustainability and asset managers – make sense of and influence technologies when a group comes along wanting to deploy and test them.

We found unexpected effects which revealed insights about what configuration of V2G might be acceptable to fleet end users. If energy market participants want V2G to solve their problems (and make them profit), they need to do the flexibility work.


Vehicle-to-grid is a niche technology that has the potential to benefit electricity markets and support more renewable energy in the grid. However, interest from prospective users in adopting V2G is not well understood, particularly in the context of fleet vehicles. Technology-oriented field trials can contribute to the development of niche technologies. Trials usually focus on making engineered systems work, institutional embedding and testing business models. However, through the participation of users they also provide the opportunity to explore processes of problem definition and the formation of social, ethical and cultural meanings. This article presents findings from the Realising Electric Vehicle-to-grid Services project, an Australian trial of vehicle-to-grid in a government-owned light passenger car fleet, aiming to explore co-productive processes as essential aspects of participatory technology development. Our data comprises interviews with organisational actors responsible for facilitating and mediating the trial, as well as others in similar organisational roles. Adopting ecologies of participation as a framework, it reveals the productive effects of these actors in mediating the local embedding of vehicle-to-grid. These findings challenge the framing of vehicle-to-grid as being a question of consumer acceptance and suggest that, for this promising technology to contribute to a more sustainable future, the electricity sector must accept more risk.

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