Author: milantopalov

UKPN targets UK’s ‘first smart charging market’ for electric vehicles

Distribution network operator UK Power Networks (UKPN) is to launch trials to assess the requirements of a smart charging market for electric vehicles.

The project, called SmartCar, has seen independent research commissioned which intends to inform how network operators can avoid an increase in peak demand through rewarding electric car drivers who charge outside of busy times.

UKPN says this will reduce the demands of charging ‘clusters’ of cars on local electricity infrastructure and keep energy bills lower than if new infrastructure was built unnecessarily.

Smart charging was mandated by law last summer under the Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill, an act which mandates that all electric vehicle charging points installed are ‘smart’, essentially enabling them to receive signals and react to them.

That measure is to be crucial for the country’s EV charging infrastructure moving forward with some concerns remaining over the potential impact EV demand could have on local grids.

The project is also significant from a DNO perspective, as the country’s network operators respond to parliamentary requests to do their part in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. Earlier this month the DNOs committed to cut the red tape surrounding EV charger installations, introducing a new, standardised process for properties to apply for grid connection approval.

Head of innovation at UK Power Networks, Ian Cameron, said smart charging is about promoting choice for consumers and offering incentives to change their charging patterns.

“We believe smart charging will enable us to support the uptake of electric vehicles across our networks at the lowest possible cost to customers.

“However, incentives from networks will not by themselves change people’s charging habits – it will need a mix of lower energy costs from retailers plus the reduced network cost incentives,” he added.

“There are several ways that we as electricity networks could approach the challenge of electric vehicles, one of which could be by installing failsafe technical network protection technology. We listened to what the industry and stakeholders told us and set out on an alternative path. It’s the more challenging approach, but it’s also the right thing to do by our customers.”

Zouk’s ‘fundamental interest’ to remain in EV networks, charging tech investment

Zouk Capital, the government’s preferred bidder to manage the £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, is to prioritise networks over associated technologies, the firm has told Current±.

Last week HM Treasury’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority confirmed that following a seven-month bidding process, Zouk Capital had emerged as its preferred candidate to manage the CIIF.

Initially unveiled in chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2017 Autumn Budget, the CIIF will see £200 million of government funds matched by at least £200 million of private investment to create a pot to be used to stimulate the country’s EV charging infrastructure.

But despite its name, the government’s mandate for the CIIF very much allows for investments to be made into associated technologies such as energy storage.

But while Zouk is refusing to rule out supporting any particular battery storage-related projects or technologies, Colin Campbell, senior partner at the investment firm, told Current± that its priority would remain squarely with supporting the development of the country’s networks themselves.

“Our fundamental interest is in networks and the technologies. Clearly where batteries make sense and there is the ability to do that we’re open to it, but I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute core of where we’re coming from,” he said.

Zouk will also maintain a technology-agnostic approach to investment, seeking to support charging technologies right the way through from domestic charging units to workplace chargers to ultra-rapid, DC charging units, the likes of which are manufactured by existing Zouk-investee Instavolt.

Despite the delay in selecting a preferred bidder, it is both the government’s and Zouk’s intent to have the fund up and running by the Spring, with the coming months set to be taken up by various due diligence processes.

Once complete, Campbell said Zouk would get to work in building out public charging networks.

“We’re keen to look at some of those opportunities and we’re speaking to some of those people at the moment, all the way through from infrastructure assets to the technology,” he said.

Campbell also moved to allay some industry concerns surrounding the fund’s establishment, with some in the industry suggesting that the fund may end up “skewing” the market.

In response, Campbell pointed to the fact that the CIIF will be a commercial fund, and suggested that the government’s decision to select just one manager – HM Treasury reserved the right to select multiple bidders if it decided to do so – would prevent the fund(s) from being too overpowered.

“We’re looking to put the fund to work, and we actually think it’s helpful that it’s just one fund so it shouldn’t be a ridiculous force. We’re out there to help the government achieve its objectives and investors theirs. We’ve proven that you can make that work already,” he added.

Zouk Capital named preferred bidder to run government-backed EV Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund

Infrastructure fund manager Zouk Capital has been named as the preferred bidder for the government’s much-vaunted EV Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF).

The £400 million fund – half of which will be raised from the private sector and matched by the UK government – was announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget amongst a raft of other measures designed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK.

The CIIF was launched in a bid to both enable the more rapid expansion of public EV charging networks and to stimulate further capital investment in the sector, with the government aiming for the fund to act as a catalyst for further investment.

A bidding process was launched by HM Treasury’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority last summer, inviting tenders from investment managers to be tasked with either the entire CIIF or a section of it.

The detailed tender process was initially expected to have concluded before the end of last year, however Current± reported in December that the level of interest in the fund had seen the IPA nudge the awarding of the contract into the New Year.

However, having now elected Zouk Capital as the preferred bidder, it is still expected that, subject to negotiations, the fund will launch in the spring.

understands that no further details surrounding the bidding process, including the number of participants, are to be disclosed by the IPA due to commercial sensitivity.

The fund is to be invested in by UK companies and platforms that comprise “all elements” of public EV Charging infrastructure with the ultimate aim of delivering attractive returns for both HMG and its private sector investors.

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick described the announcement as a “crucial step” in the government’s environmental plans.

“We want to increase the number of electric cars on our roads, but to achieve this we need to ensure drivers have access to the right infrastructure, including charge points.

“That’s why the Chancellor announced £400 million of investment to make this a reality, revolutionising the way we travel, creating jobs and protecting our natural environment for future generations.”

Samer Salty, managing partner at Zouk Capital, said the CIIF placed the UK government at the international forefront of supporting EV ecosystems.

“This fund will build a lasting public EV charging network that runs on clean energy, is fully open access and highly reliable to meet the needs of EV drivers today and give those yet to join the EV revolution the confidence to do so,” he said.

Recent spate of EV partnerships driving E-mobility sector maturation

Maturation within the UK’s electric vehicle charging and energy sphere is starting to accelerate, driven by new partnerships and increasingly innovative offerings.

Last week E.On announced that it had penned a strategic partnership with vehicle leasing giant ALD Automotive, focusing on the development of e-mobility, financing and energy services offerings for numerous European markets.

It was the third such deal between a major European utility and a vehicle leasing firm, following on from similar deals involving ScottishPower and Total, and Jacob Brigg, analyst at energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, said such partnerships stand to be crucial to energy suppliers in their fight for e-mobility market share.

“These arrangements allow the partners to maximise the customer value captured in bundled propositions that combine strengths in energy supply, charging, vehicles and data management. Realising these benefits requires a compelling customer proposition, underpinned by strong digital capabilities,” he said.

In addition to further partnerships, Brigg also pointed towards the need for more advanced technological capabilities, especially in the provision of load management and easier billing, as “critical to the future success” of EV offerings.

Many companies in the space have either brought forward their own solutions or looked to acquire companies with enhanced capabilities in the field. EO Charging last week toasted the launch of their first “fully open” charging network that allows customers to charge and pay simply through a contactless bank card, while other energy companies have made similar plays.

Centrica, for example, made a multi-million-pound investment in Israeli EV software developer Driivz last August before creating a special purpose e-mobility division last month, while the likes of BP and Shell have been particularly acquisitive in the EV sphere, acquiring stakes, outright ownership or making investments in the likes of Chargemaster, New Motion and Powershare over the course of the past year.

Brigg expects this to be only the tip of the iceberg. “Change will continue. Models may soon extend to developing technology which enables ring-fenced tracking, billing and optimising of EV charging through the domestic meter. We may even see charging at multiple locations managed through a single supply relationship. Regulatory and industry system change to facilitate these developments will, however, be crucial.

“As a result, the EV and energy space is starting to mature, with a wider variety of players developing increasingly innovative offerings but also developing a shared sense of what constitutes the building blocks of a successful business model. The result will be new, cross-vector service offerings that shake up the way we think about the role of electricity, moving from being the provision of power metered at a price, to providing services integrated with a consumer’s broader mobility objectives.”

E.On partners vehicle leasing and fleet giant ALD Automotive for Europe-wide e-mobility strategy

E.On has penned a strategic partnership with vehicle leasing giant ALD Automotive to develop electric mobility, financing and energy services.

Under the agreement, ALD Automotive’s corporate, municipality and private customers throughout Europe will gain access to E.On’s e-mobility and energy solutions, including consultancy, planning, installation, operation and maintenance of charging infrastructure.

E.On said that not only would it allow for more seamless data handling surrounding electric vehicle infrastructure and fleet management solutions, but a more digital, end-to-end service for EV drivers would be bought forward.

An additional cooperation agreement to further develop collaboration between the two companies in international markets including Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway and the UK, representing some of Europe’s most advanced and potentially significant EV markets.

Meanwhile, a unique EV leasing offer for E.On’s customer bases is to be launched in Denmark. E.On customers can lease an EV at discounted rates and gain access to E.On Drive, the energy firm’s network of 1,300 public charging spots.

Andreas Pfeiffer, global head of e-mobility at E.On, said it was the company’s strategy to establish an “ecosystem of partners” in the e-mobility field.

“Bringing together the experience and excellence from different industry sectors helps us to build unique solutions for everyday needs of our customers,” he said. As of September 2018, ALD managed more than 1.6 million vehicles across Europe.

The Climate Group shifts gear with ‘EV revolution’, targets 2 million new EVs by 2030

The Climate Group wants to bring about the introduction of more than 2 million new electric vehicles by 2030, led by major global businesses, in a bid to stimulate the “EV revolution”.

The ambitious targets have been set within its maiden progress report from its EV100 initiative, established last year to drive a more concerted market shift to electrified transport.

The EV100 follows on from similar initiatives launched by The Climate Group like the RE100, which was launched to help stimulate global businesses shifting their energy consumption to renewable resources.

In today’s progress report The Climate Group points towards more than 30 leading companies, with combined revenues of more than US$500 billion (£438 billion), that have signed up to the EV100 initiative, and includes commitments from 23 of those.

Together, they are introducing more than 145,000 electric vehicles to their fleets in 66 individual markets.

French energy major EDF, for instance, is to introduce some 31,000 electric vehicles to its fleet by 2030 – 27,000 of those in France alone – while Ingka Group, formerly IKEA, is to embark upon a mass upgrade of its vehicle fleets to electric alternatives.

Yannick Duport, director of EDF Group’s mobility unit, described the EV100 initiative as an “extraordinary catalyser” for clean transport.

EV market barriers

However the report also looked to explore the barriers to the EV transition, seeking insight from some of its member companies. They concluded that while the most prolific barrier was perceived to be a lack of charging infrastructure, more companies regarded the capital cost of EVs to be a “very significant” barrier than any other, indicating that costs may still have to decline further before more companies make similar commitments.

Nevertheless, Helen Clarkson, chief executive at The Climate Group, said forward-thinking companies were now “getting ahead of the curve” by adopting vehicles long before international phase-outs of conventional vehicles are brought into action.

“The private sector has an instrumental part to play in bringing down emissions and cleaning up our air – and there are big opportunities for companies taking action now,” she said.

Despite strong opposition, the UK government has stood by its 2040 phase-out date for the sale of new conventional vehicles. Last month the BEIS Select Committee once again called out the government for a lack of ambition in the EV sector, pointedly referring to other nations – least of all Scotland – which have established more ambitious targets.

Scotland is to phase out the sale of new conventional vehicles by 2032, while Norway is to prohibit the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025.

Connected Kerb unveils ‘ground-breaking’ kerbside EV charging solution

Connected Kerb has unveiled its maiden install of its kerbside public charging station in what’s been described as a “ground-breaking” development for the electric vehicle sector.

The installation, completed on Borough Road in the London borough of Southwark, was supported by both Virgin Media and National Grid and constitutes the first of its kind in the UK.

The project has utilised Virgin Media’s underground fibre broadband cable areas and the telecoms provider’s broadband and wireless technologies to connect and offer consumers so-called ‘drive-up’ roadside charging and internet connectivity.

Connected Kerb said it was essentially able to turn ‘dumb’ charging point plugs hosted on residential streets into smarter, more versatile points that can be upscaled and upgraded as new technologies and applications emerge.

In addition, the kerbside chargers can also collect and provide environmental, weather and traffic monitoring data to local authorities that adopt them.

Connected Kerb won the Mayor of London’s Award for Urban Innovation last year and has since been working with a number of local authorities throughout the UK to expand its charging point network, building up to its maiden install, which was unveiled today (Tuesday 29 January 2019).

Paul Ayres, COO at Connected Kerb, said the acceleration of EV ownership had meant that the need for a nationwide EV infrastructure was now “critical”.

Connected Kerb’s intention is that today’s install will be just the first in a much wider roll-out of kerbside EV chargers in London and beyond.

Centrica ‘super-charging’ EV ambitions with new e-mobility division

Energy giant Centrica is bidding to super-charge its electric vehicle ambitions with the creation of a new e-mobility team.

Centrica Mobility Ventures has been established to develop and progress new solutions and partnerships in the EV market and will work alongside Centrica’s international consumer and business units to develop consumer-facing offerings.

These are intended to combine energy supply with charging infrastructure services, including other value-add services such as energy optimisation and software applications.

The move comes several months after Centrica’s innovations unit made a multi-million-pound investment in Driivz, an Israeli EV charging software start-up which offers solutions for charging network operators, car manufacturers and utilities.

Centrica pointed to new internal research which concluded that the cost “tipping point” for electric vehicles, whereby they’re cheaper to own than a petrol or diesel car over ten years, will occur by 2025, and expectations that as much as £700 billion of investment will be made in fleets, batteries, charging infrastructure and technology worldwide by 2030.

Charles Cameron, director of technology and engineering at Centrica and chairman at Centrica Innovations, said that while the direction of travel for EVs is clear, many in the industry are “struggling to find their way” through the roll out.

“With a global network of over 15,000 engineers and technicians, and expertise in designing and managing energy solutions offered through Centrica Business Solutions, I believe we are uniquely positioned to develop a simple, holistic solution for customers that will address many of the challenges around EV adoption,” he said.

Centrica Mobility Ventures is to firstly work alongside car manufacturers to boost EV readiness within their dealership networks by providing a “one stop shop for end-to-end charging delivery”, comprising charging infrastructure, energy management, financing and optimisation.

EV ROUND-UP: Lack of EV tariff transparency confusing consumers; Rapid chargers on the rise

In this round-up of news stories from the electric vehicle ecosystem, new research from Citizens Advice finds that a lack of transparency regarding EV tariffs is confusing consumers, and rapid chargers are on the rise.

Lack of EV tariff transparency is confusing EV owners, Citizens Advice says

A lack of transparency surrounding EV electricity tariffs is making it difficult for consumers to pick the best way to charge electric vehicles, new research from Citizens Advice has claimed.

The charity published research within a new report, dubbed Take Charge, that concludes that discounts on home chargers, free installation offers and discounts for public chargers make it hard for consumers to determine the actual cost of particular tariffs.

This, coupled with the lack of comparison tools tailored for EV drivers on existing price comparison sites, has led to confusion in the marketplace.

The research also found that tariffs varied widely owing to suppliers and the type of meter consumers had installed at their home, with annual costs varying from £811 to £1,442.

This level of variability hinged on the ability of a consumer to charge during Economy 7 tariff times at night, with those able to estimated to pay somewhere between £811 and £938, instead of the £1,298 – £1,442 range found on single rate tariffs.

Gillian Guy, chief executive at Citizens Advice, said that it was crucial that consumers are able to make informed choices as the EV tariff market expands.

“It’s important to have genuine choice between competing tariffs. That means there needs to be transparency of costs and that suppliers properly support this growing group of consumers.”

Phoenix Works to install rapid charger clusters throughout North East

Renewables installer The Phoenix Works is to install six rapid EV charging clusters throughout the North East after winning a local tender.

The North East Combined Authority tendered for the installs at Cramlington, Gateshead (two sites), Gosforth, Hexham and Tynemouth, and each of the locations is to receive two 50kW chargers.

The installations are to be funded by NECA in collaboration with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the European Regional Development Fund, while the charging infrastructure is to be managed and serviced by Electric Blue.

Alfa Power charges up two rapid chargers

EV charge point operator Alfa Power has installed two new rapid chargers in Rutland and Lincolnshire.

One 40kW charger has been installed at Ponton Main Service Station in Lincolnshire, however the company said it was “working around the clock” to find a solution to increase its capacity to 60kW, and could even look to increase the power further through subsequent grid reinforcements.

Meanwhile, a 22kW charger has been installed at The Noel at Whitwell, a country pub and B&B in Oakham, Rutland more than trebling the speed of the quickest nearby publicly-accessible charger (7kW).

Pan-European EV car sharing scheme launches in Solihull

A multi-million-euro, pan-European EV sharing scheme has launched its first demonstration site in Solihull, aiming to bring the benefits of electric vehicles to wider communities.

The InclusivEV Demonstrator, led by Cenex, has introduced a fleet of 18 Renault ZOEs, operated by char sharing scheme E-Car Club in conjunction with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Solihull Community Housing.

These electric vehicles can be hired from as little as £3.50 per hour and the project is intended to test business cases ahead of future adoption of EV car sharing schemes.

Solihull is to be followed by Modena, Italy, and Valencia, Spain.

BP expands EV networks play into China with PowerShare investment

BP has invested in PowerShare, one of China’s largest electric vehicle charging solutions providers, further bolstering its EV play.

The investment in PowerShare has come from BP Ventures and forms part of the EV firm’s Series A round funding. BP has led the round with support from Chinese private equity firm Detong Capital Partners.

PowerShare provides an online platform that connects EV drivers, charge point operators and power suppliers, professing to streamline and simplify the consumer experience. Meanwhile, the cloud-based system also enables power suppliers to optimise operations by monitoring and balancing power demand from vehicles with a particular grid’s supply capacity.

The investment comes less than a year after BP acquired UK EV charging network firm Chargemaster in what constituted a significant, cross-vertical play for the UK’s growing EV market.

BP said at the time that the acquisition formed part of a wider energy transition strategy to develop new offers to meet consumer demand, and today’s PowerShare investment would cement the energy giant’s first foray into one of the world’s most significant electric vehicle markets.

Lamar McKay, deputy chief executive at BP, said China was a key market for BP as it seeks to extend its e-mobility offering.

“Our investment into PowerShare, BP Ventures’ first direct investment in China, demonstrates our continued intent to provide charging solutions and advanced mobility offers to Chinese consumers both on and off our forecourts,” he said.

Ethan Zhu, founder and chief exec at PowerShare, said the firm had accumulated “rich experiences” in charging solutions and, with BP’s backing, would now be looking to expand both its technology range and market reach.

“We are much honoured to partner with world leading companies like BP to jointly expand markets, develop core technologies, and explore new business models in the global eMobility business,” he said.

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