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Image: Doron Frenkel.
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Current± Disruptors: Driivz's Doron Frenkel on V2G and smart charging

Image: Doron Frenkel.

Israeli charging software company Driivz offers a smart cloud-based platform, providing an end-to-end solution spanning charging operations, energy management, bespoke billing and home, public and workplace charging.

It is active in a number of international markets, including the UK, and saw an investment from Centrica in 2018, with Driivz’s app and utilisation software integrated into Centrica’s commercial EV offering.

It also recently unveiled plans to expand into Japan in a deal with utility Ennet Corporation.

Driivz founder and CEO Doron Frenkel spoke to Current± about enabling smart charging and where the EV market is heading next.


How did the investment from Centrica come about?

When Centrica Business began the process of electrifying its fleet of 14,000 vehicles, it faced a number of challenges. At the same time, the company also planned to launch Centrica Electric Vehicle Services to help other businesses tackle the challenges of transitioning to the EV future. Centrica Business was looking for scalable, intelligent and easy-to-use EV charging software to manage both of these tasks, which is why it chose to work with Driivz.

Centrica Innovations is integrating our platform into Centrica Electric Vehicle Services, its new EV charging service offer for businesses.

The investment provides an opportunity for Centrica to support growing customer demand while working with us to explore new offers for customers that connect home, work and on-the-road car charging. Our partnership will also evaluate the role of EVs and potential vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications as part of the future energy landscape.

Talking of V2G, how commercially viable do you think the technology is?

Whether an EV or ICE, the average car is parked for approximately 95% of the day. V2G connectivity offers the potential to manage and optimise grids by leveraging millions of EVs for energy storage, with zero capital and operating costs. Smart charging could serve as a focal point for using EVs as decentralised storage resources that can benefit power systems as a whole and minimise – and eventually avoid – grid reinforcements. In terms of commercial viability, future use could involve offering a discount on electricity consumption to EV drivers who will be willing to offer their EV for energy storage.

We started to work on V2G technology three years ago and pilot studies have shown a substantial willingness of EV owners to participate in coordinated smart charging.

What are some of the challenges you’re seeing in electrification, particularly with commercial fleets?

If you take depots as an example, the concentration of charging there is always going to be a challenge. The fleets need to know how to manage their charging and to have the sufficient tools in place to do so.

For this, you need to make sure that the car itself knows where it should charge, that the parking spot is there and that the charger isn't already being used. Once the driver is in the right location, you then need to ensure there is enough power there, as well as planning for the next time the vehicle needs to go out and how to balance that with the constraints that you have.

The challenge, therefore, is the power you have on the network, the different behaviors of the chargers, the different behaviors of the car, and the different behaviours of the user. When you combine all of that, you need sophisticated tools to manage it all and make it happen. It’s not enough to just let the people go to the charger and charge.

What sets Driivz apart from other companies with similar offerings?

Operationally, our self-healing algorithms ensure charger stability and availability and fix up to 80% of issues remotely. We also help reduce total cost of ownership thanks to our smart charging management tools.

We support complex business models and enable our customers to monetise their networks, while our advanced self-service tools increase end-customer satisfaction.

Our platform is also fully-scalable, compatible with over 120 charger types, was the first to support OCPP 2.0 and complies with ISO 15118.

Where do you see the EV market heading in the next year or so?

I believe that the adoption of EVs will continue to increase rapidly over the next year. New models of EVs continue to be announced and released by the major car manufacturers, while more and more fleets are converting to electric.

However, e-mobility as a whole will also become more prevalent. Traditional utilities and big oil and gas companies will move into the EV charging domain, while charging infrastructure will become standardised via interoperability.

Plus, there will be a move towards smart charging. This will be in order for energy grids to support the increased number of EVs looking to charge, as well as using EVs as a means of energy aggregation and balancing.

Editorial

Alice Grundy Junior reporter, Current±

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