Assessing the current state of e-mobility at The Energyst’s Electric Vehicle event

The Energyst hosted their first event dedicated to Electric Vehicles at One Moorgate Place last week and EDF Energy were among the sponsors, where they launched their EV report with insights from their business survey.

The speaker line up, which included our EV Lead, Niall Riddell, focused on the key areas for debate around EV: fleets, infrastructure & charging, V2G and the future. Here’s the main take outs from the event, which demonstrated that whilst there are many complex challenges ahead, there’s a wide range of innovation, reinforced with bold ambition- all focused on creating a cleaner, better world for businesses and people alike.

Adoption vs Infrastructure, which comes first?
The UK is one of the biggest markets for EV. But, as The Energyst remind us in their intro to the report, ‘The interest in electric vehicles dwarfs the actual number on the road.’ - a reality check that whilst there is lots of interest, we are still in the early stages of the adoption curve. They also refer to the EV uptake vs infrastructure as the ‘chicken and egg’ of our times. There is huge interest (2/3’s of organisations surveyed said they are considering installation of EV’s in the next 12 months, and only 1/10 said they definitely won’t) but there is a challenge in knowing when to invest- many want the infrastructure in place first. However this in itself presents unique opportunities and there is clear commitment to EV’s in the long term as demonstrated by the OEM’s, businesses, policy makers and utilities present at the event.

Complex challenges, bold ambition
There was big commitment in the room from several companies. UPS, who deliver 20 million parcels a day, have a target of ¼ of their fleets being alternative tech by 2020 as part of their circular economy strategy. Mitie (one of the largest facilities management companies in the UK) has the target of switching 20% of their fleet to EV by 2020 (which will reduce 4000 tonnes of CO2 - twice Sherwood Forest). EDF Energy intends to become Europe's leading e-mobility energy company in its four biggest European markets: France, UK, Italy and Belgium by 2022. So, whilst the picture may not yet be perfect for EV, the potential to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions and improve air quality is huge.

The panels were unanimous that EV’s play a central role in energy strategy and for meeting our Paris targets.  So where to start if you’re considering electric fleets or cars for your organisation?

If you’re considering the switch to EV or EV fleets, you may wish to consider these insights from the panels.

- Pin down your business needs, long term
- bring your stakeholders together to understand your business needs. If you have a fleet that charges at depot, at home and on the go it’s worth working with your supplier and DNO on which charging solution will best fit (you may not need the fastest on the market for your entire fleet). One word of caution around scaleability offered by Michael Trevaskis, Director of Ecodrive was, don’t skimp early on- many companies underestimate their EV needs only to dig up the pavement six months later.

- Consider fleets as part of a wider community network - Simon King, Fleet and Procurement Director from Mitie, shared the stat that fleets represent 90% of the company’s carbon footprint, so it’s clear that they are fundamental in our EV transition. Fleets are charged at depot, at home and on the go which presents the challenges of infrastructure, tracking and billing for them. Claire Thompson-Sage from UPS described the start of their EV journey in 2008 as ‘expensive, painful and bureaucratic’, but things are changing. Simon King also shared that it’s now possible to invest in electric fleets and break even. Adriana Laguna, Senior Innovation Strategy Manager for UK Power Networks advised companies not to look at fleets as an individual entity but as part of your wider community network. She used the example of, Transport for London are committing to bus electrification by 2030, which will impacts the wider network capacity. She advised to bring in your supplier and DNO early on to discuss how your ambitions align with the wider community network.

- Balancing out capacity and upgrade costs - Charging solutions will be bespoke to your organisation and will need to match your capacity -  (can you charge staff and fleet cars through your on-site chargers for example?). You may need to think about capacity upgrade costs, but there are many ways to negate upfront costs through grants and subsidies available.

- Vehicle to Grid- EDF Energy’s Niall Riddell shared our ambitions and projects for V2G (the 2 way bi-directional flow between the vehicle and Grid through a bi-directional charger). Whilst a challenging business case, whilst we wait for more V2G enabled vehicles and bi-directional chargers, through our partnership with smart charging specialist, Nuvve and our expertise as an energy supplier we want to help make the road to V2G services as simple as possible for our customers. Nottingham City Council is one of the lead cities in an EU funded V2G trial, an example that it is here to make a real contribution to our future grid.

- People & behaviour- Electric vehicles for business aren’t just about fleets but about your people, their lifestyle and wellbeing. There is just as much consumer interest in EV as business, with similar anxieties (range, charging infrastructure,cost). When considering EV for staff, it’s worth understanding your people’s charging behaviour. Toddington Harper from Gridserve shared his EV forecourts of the future plan (though they exist in the here and now in the UK) which move away from traditional petrol pump forecourts to include greenery and waiting areas so people can relax as they recharge, whilst creating a nature sanctuary. There’s also the question of upskilling your staff in EV knowledge through IMI-run engineering courses, which includes maintenance skills in-house.

Looking ahead

As IoT systems and V2G technology help transform the vehicle not just as a mode of transport but as an entertainment and software environment, the potential for EV’s is exciting.  In summary, the advice from the panel was to:
 

  • Understand your capacity
  • Look at where you want to be in the future
  • Understand your staff/ fleet behaviour
  • Test and learn before rollout
  • Communicate with your DNO’s and utilities.
     

To find out how EDF Energy can help you make the switch to electric vehicles visit edfenergy.com/large-business/energy-solutions/electric-vehicles

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Posted by Talk Power Team

The Talk Power Team is here to keep our business community up to date on industry news, our Talk Power live events and to bring you useful information to help you manage your energy. 

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