Daniel Hilson, our founder, talks about his vision for the UK's largest "virtual sustainable power plant"
If all the batteries in existing EV’s were put together they would represent the largest power station on the national grid, and that’s with less than 0.5% of cars being EVs today. Our goal is humble in comparison - to aggregate 5,000 EV drivers in the coming months - representing 35 MW - which would be the largest domestic virtual power plant in the UK!
What if the entire EV community could charge together, coordinating how all their power interacted with the grid? It’s not impossible to imagine a future where this community could become the largest most powerful energy producer and consumer (a “prosumer”) in the country, even the world.
That is our ultimate goal - we are investing in research and development that will help us to not only help you optimise how you use power, but also help the EV community as a whole to maximise the benefits of “charging together”.
Even before we realise this vision, there are a lot of smarts we can apply to ensure the entire EV community gets outstanding energy prices and environmental outcomes.
What’s so special about EVs?
Electric vehicles are very special, uniquely so. Certain properties make EVs a disruptive new player in the energy market and to energy companies. They:
Use a lot of electricity
Have large batteries
Are smart, connected devices
Are owned by people like you
High electricity use
There is no other piece of consumer equipment that uses as much power. Typically power consumption may increase 50% for a new EV owner, and that’s just with one new EV in the home. Customers who use more energy are much more profitable so obviously they’re highly desirable to energy companies.
We commissioned some research (which will be released in a future article) that sought to identify the potential load attributable to large numbers of electric vehicles in a particular region, and at different times of day. This data is outlined below and represents 3000 homes in a concentrated community area with a 20% penetration of electric vehicles.
EVs store large amounts of energy, meaning that energy-wise they operate more like a smartphone than any other large appliance in the home. That is, they don’t need to be “plugged-in” and drawing power to be used, and they can be charged at any time. To understand the value of this, observe that every 30 minutes in the UK energy market the wholesale energy price is reset. From an average of about 4.5p/kWh, prices can range from zero pence per kWh (or even gently negative) through to a dizzying 600p/kWh. When an energy supplier must buy this energy to then sell to you at a fixed or even semi-fixed rate, this creates risk for them - lots of it. Naturally your retailer will want to avoid buying too much energy for those high price periods. I’ll address this more in a future blog as it’s more complex and justifies more detail, but essentially once you have a smart meter retailers will strongly encourage you to charge at times of low wholesale energy prices. Naturally we think any value created by this activity should flow to you.
A computer on wheels
Next, and the smartphone analogy can be extended, EVs are really just large fast moving computers filled with sophisticated control technology and connected to the internet. Combining connectivity and control with a large battery is an energy nerd's dream. Expect in the future new businesses to pop up wanting to control how and when your car charges remotely to unlock the value discussed above. Again, we see it as our role to help you navigate this.
EV owners are also special - you represent a very attractive type of customer to energy companies. EV drivers are on the whole driven by purpose and are early adopters of new technology meaning a chance to innovate together. Furthermore, you are generally more affluent than the average population meaning much lower “bad debt” risk.
So, EVs and EV owners are likely to play a critical role in our energy market, helping to shape how it will operate. Every energy supplier will want a piece of the action. That said, it is the first and last items above that are creating the most value for energy suppliers today. We think it’s strongly in EV owner interests to band together to take this value back.
By Charging Together, EV owners can save significantly on their power bills. Immediate value will be created by:
Unlocking some of the money energy suppliers pay to acquire customers. If we go as a group that is an instant saving of between £50-100 per customer.
Unlocking some of the additional profit that a supplier will earn from an EV owning customer by negotiating cheaper rates.
Enabling suppliers to manage their risk with our unique detailed understanding of the EV market and charging behaviour based on real (but fully anonymised) data
Providing suppliers with ability to manage demand of our customers over time using our smart home Energy Hub (clearly only with customer buy-in)
Because you’re lower risk customers and more tech savvy (i.e. as a group you generally prefer online account management rather than calling), you’ll have a lower cost to service. This might be reflected in lower rates too.
To unlock this value, Evenergi has obtained the first ever electricity licence called “license lite” that allows us to negotiate directly with suppliers on a wholesale basis on behalf of a community of customers.
In the next 5 years or so we will help you to unlock further value by assisting the community to manage your charging, thereby:
Avoiding peak energy price times and earning real time energy savings
Tapping revenue created by providing services back to the grid
And all this is just for buying electricity! We plan to provide support for other products and services as well, including town gas, public charging, insurance, home chargers, solar, batteries and efficient appliances.
EVs and EV owners are special, and there are many new and exciting ways that EVs can create new value for their owners. The key to unlocking that value is Charging Together!