How using an electric car battery as a power source may have made a difference when James fought a bushfire

Electric vehicles (EV) are not suitable for firefighting.

But winemaker James Tilbrook says if he had had access to one of today’s state-of-the-art electric vehicles in December 2019, it might have helped when the Cudlee Creek bushfire tore through the hills of ‘Adelaide.

As he fought to protect his property, Mr Tilbrook attempted to pump water from his dam to his reservoir, in an urgent attempt to supply his irrigation system.

“Because the electricity was cut off, we had no more electricity for the dam pump,” he said.

“By not being able to get water into this tank, I was unable to get it into the two valves closest to the fire front.”

Mr Tilbrook said an electric vehicle (EV) with power-sharing capability would have given him the option of simply driving to his pump and plugging it into the car battery.

The Tilbrook Estate vineyard was blackened when the Cudlee Creek fire broke out.(Supplied: Tilbrook Estate)

“We could have distributed 35,000 liters of water per hour around the vineyard,” he said.

Using an electric vehicle in this way – as a mini mobile power source – relies on a feature known as vehicle charging (V2L), which is built into many of the current generations of electric vehicles.

But proponents have bigger goals in mind, including using car batteries to power homes.

What is the cost and what is the gain?

In the two-and-a-half years since fire destroyed Mr Tilbrook’s vineyard, his Tilbrook Estate winery has rebuilt and rebounded, and relies heavily on solar panels to power his facility cellar door.

“Right now we’re figuring out if we’re getting a battery,” Mr. Tilbrook said.

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