Having raised US$8.8 million (£6.3 million) in its recent Series A funding round, ev.energy is now looking to scale its reach across energy utility partners, car manufacturers, charger partners and drivers while targeting international expansion.
Prior to this, the company won a tender to provide flexibility services to UK Power Networks (UKPN), with this being the first time domestic EVs had won a commercial tender.
It has also been working with E.ON on the supplier's Next Drive EV tariff, which allows EV drivers to charge their cars at a fixed price of 4p/kWh between midnight and 4am.
Current± caught up with Nick Woolley, CEO and co-founder of ev.energy, to discuss scaling up EV flexibility and delivering a straightforward charging experience.
Having won the UKPN tender last year, what is it like working with distribution network operators to deliver EV flexibility services?
In the UK market now the distribution networks are starting to publish their requirements for where their networks are becoming congested.
We’ve been working closely with UKPN, with WPD and with the other energy networks as well to talk to them about the capabilities of an EV charging load. We were working with UKPN for example, on Project Shift, alongside flex providers as well like Kaluza and Octopus, and we were working with them to explore the capabilities of smart electric vehicle charging and what they can do in terms of demand reduction on their network.
Often, the service that the distribution network operator is the most concerned about is peak loading on the network. We see that the majority of our customers are home charging customers- the vast majority just come home and plug in in the early evening at about 6pm and that means they're immediately coinciding with the peak demand on the electricity system.
We provide a service to reduce that load. It's entirely automated, the customer doesn't have to do anything- they just come home, plug in their car, and we can then reduce peak load by about 80% versus what would have happened had we not been there across a portfolio of assets. We then sell that as a service back to the distribution network, and the distribution network company will pay us in certain areas where they're congested on the network. We then hand that back to our drivers.
I think what the distribution networks are doing is fantastic. I also think the wider participation in the Balancing Mechanism and other system operator activities that are opening up those markets, so that things like EVs can participate, is absolutely fantastic as well.
How useful is it to have EV-specific tariffs to support this, and what is the process like in developing E.ON Next Drive?
The process is great, we're delighted to be working with E.ON and E.ON Next Drive. It's a really innovative tariff- it's only just launched, but we have big plans going forward.
Charging is very stressful for an electric vehicle driver because it's pretty much the most complicated thing about owning an electric vehicle. What we're aiming to do is get all of the electric vehicles integrated into the energy system in a smart way so that we get them charging at the greenest possible times, align the charging with the availability of renewable energy on the grid and in people's homes, and then align it with the cheapest possible energy available on the grid as well so that we get all of those electric vehicles charging in harmony with the energy system and delivering great benefits for the energy system.
What we need to deliver is a simple and straightforward charging experience that gets them ready for the time that they need to drive their car so they can go off and do their thing, whilst in the background, doing all the smart technology and integration with the energy system to make sure that we're integrating electric vehicles to accelerate the path to decarbonisation.
For the energy companies in general, the opportunity for electric vehicles is significant because it's essentially a massive transfer of value from what traditionally flowed from oil and gas companies in the petrol pump into the home and through your conventional energy bill.
What are your ambitions for scaling up following the latest funding round?
First and foremost, one of the things that we want to be able to do using the funds is grow our business in multiple different international markets. Europe's a big opportunity for us, as is the US as well.
Number two is just continuing to invest in our core product and the core service that we're using. We're a tech firm, so we have a lot of developers within the firm. and we will continue to invest in those developers to then build technology that we need. At the moment, it's focused a lot in the home space but we're also looking at stuff outside of the home.
The third thing is, as a business model, we distribute our products direct to the end consumer, working with partners like charging manufacturers to get in front of the end consumer. We believe we offer a compelling service that then works synergistically alongside electric vehicle charging hardware. We need to grow the reach of that and get more users onto the platform, and then we need to do that in with our energy utility clients as well as where we're potentially white labeling our software and working with them to really scale that number of users from where we are today.