5 Things energy suppliers could do to help EV owners
Jun 28, 2019
Transport is now the sector that contributes most to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The Committee on Climate Change has urged the government to improve their current plan, to ensure all new diesel and petrol vehicles are banned from 2040. Electric Vehicles (EVs) are no longer the future; they are the present.
They are recognised as a huge benefit to the energy evolution, future sustainability and the fight against climate change. There isn’t a day that goes by when you are not told about the latest initiative from the likes of Elon Musk.
That said, is enough being done to help EV owners when it comes to their energy supply? In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller and they have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models*.
Could suppliers do more to help EV owners and create more of them?
1 - Move to 100% renewable electricity
The UK has just gone 18 days and 6 hours coal free, meaning there was no electricity generated for the UK grid using coal**. Only 1.06% of the grid was powered by coal and it quickly dropped back down to zero, meaning that coal-free runs could become the norm soon.
Currently the manufacturing of electric vehicles and the energy used to power them, are the major contributing factors to emissions. If, like many are currently, all energy suppliers switch to 100% renewable energy supply the carbon emission associated with EVs will drop dramatically.
The major factor here would be ensuring that energy suppliers creating 100% renewable electricity tariffs, are truly renewable and not offset, or paying into the Renewables Obligation (ROCs) buy-out fund. ***
2 – Providing EV tariffs so consumers, the grid and energy suppliers can benefit
With a transition to a smarter energy network, thanks to the roll-out of SMETS2 meters, data is the new currency for energy suppliers. Being able to take the data from smart meters to create customer profiles is an exciting time. These profiles could (and should) be used to create new propositions.
A simple proposition that is easily applied to electric vehicle owners would be specific tariffs designed to help with ownership. Time of use (ToU) tariffs could be a quick win when coupled with SMETS2 meters.
Creating a ToU tariff coupled with smart charging capabilities would allow suppliers and consumers to benefit from better pricing, hedging and consumption of energy. Rather than charging your car at peak grid times of 5-7pm, the supplier could pass the benefits of better pricing to the consumer. For example, automatically starting at 2am through the smart charger, therefore charging their EV at a lower rate.
Other ToU examples could see suppliers working with consumers to negate their impact on carbon emissions by helping to see how much carbon they are using at a certain time. Consumers could move the charging of their EV to a lower carbon impact time.
3 – Providing End2End customer management
It isn’t just suppliers who can do more for electric vehicle owners, but also the vehicle manufacturers themselves.
Energy suppliers could tie-in partnerships with EV manufacturers and offer specifically designed tariffs and customer management for the lifecycle of ownership. This could be done through the inclusion of discounted charging, innovative upgrades and being able to use multiple charging companies all in one partnership.
To take this further we could also see vehicle manufacturers themselves becoming energy suppliers, much like what Volkswagen have done in Germany with Elli (Electric Life). **** If done correctly this model could benefit greatly from the data provided by the customer lifecycle ownership of an EV. The data created from the customer lifecycle could provide better grid services, better tariffs, better propositions and ultimately have a greater impact on carbon emissions and sustainability.
4 – Making the most from the data provided to improve the adoption of EV’s
Despite being a data rich industry, big data is relatively untapped in the energy industry. However, with the influx of electric vehicles we could see both take off dramatically over the next few years. Taking data from the EV, charging units and suppliers themselves could lead to further adoption of EVs and better aligned propositions.
Once the vast amount of data is analysed by a proper analytics platform, it could be used to:
- Develop policies for siting charging stations
- Developing smart charging algorithms
- Solving energy efficiency issues
- Evaluating the capacity of power distribution systems to handle extra charging loads
- Determining the market value for the services provided by electric vehicles (i.e., vehicle-to-grid opportunities).
This would have a positive impact not just on suppliers and users, but also on the infrastructure of cities and roads, ultimately contributing to any net zero carbon targets.
5 – Maximising the locations for charging
There are currently many constraints to charging EVs. Infrastructure being one of the main issues with consumers. For example, a lack of on street charging, or too many charging suppliers that require multiple subscription-based memberships.
Energy suppliers have the ability to plug these gaps. Ubitricity have a fantastic model for on-street parking via lampposts that has many great implications for EV drivers. Being able to carry a charging cable means you could, theoretically, charge your car against any lamppost on any street.***** This could allow energy suppliers to aggregate consumption to be passed through to consumers on one simple bill, relieving the need for multiple subscriptions and thus streamlining payments and simplifying ownership.
Additionally, suppliers would be able to partner with existing charging infrastructure suppliers and be the central repository for invoices and charges.
Making the jump to an electric vehicle is no mean feat for a consumer.
Whilst the practicalities of owning an EV are becoming easier, there is a great deal more the energy industry can do in order to increase EV adoption and reduce climate change.
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