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European Utility Week confirms Electric Vehicles and Demand Side Response as important parts of the energy mix

Given that European Utility Week has been held yearly for the last 20 years, it’s a testament to the innovation and ideas coming out of the energy industry, showcasing new technologies and sharing ideas and insights.

On the Delta-ee team visit to EUW in Vienna, the key themes coming out of the event were clear: Electric Vehicles – especially their interaction with the electricity system – and Demand Side Response.

Smart charging and grid integration are essential to the future of electric vehicles

Alex Lewis-Jones, manager of Delta-ee’s Electric Vehicles and Electricity research, presented to visitors on smart charging and engaging EV customers with renewables. There was a considerable EV charging presence and interest at the event – from software providers to hardware manufacturers. EV charging appeared to be a huge part of the utility discussion, engaging everyone from electric vehicle novices to e-mobility specialists.

It also seems as though vehicle grid integration is shifting towards becoming the form, with a consensus from all parties that EV uptake will require smart charging. The solutions are already there, the business cases are becoming realised: they just need to be scaled across the market.

EV value chains are vast and there was some recognition that utilities cannot and are not best placed to do everything. But, the partnership is critical for enabling the greatest access and robust value chains. Perhaps we’ll see new partnerships coming out of EUW…

Demand Side Response awareness is increasing but still lacks a customer focus

Philippa Hardy, manager of Delta-ee’s Flexibility Research Service, joined REstore for a diverse panel discussion on How to manage a Virtual Power Plant in a global, new energy world? Discussing the different perspectives from Europe and beyond, including market progress, customers, business models, barriers, and our outlook on the future direction for flexible energy, it became clear the potential for Demand Side Response is big and will continue to grow.

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While there are many barriers in the way, including regulations playing catch up, uncertainty, lack of integration on many levels, lack of connectivity and depressed value pools, there is still a confidence that this will be an important part of the energy mix and a valuable option for businesses. We saw several players at the event, expanding on the number of aggregators attending in previous years, including:

  • Nodes: a collaboration/trial project initially between German Aggregator Entelios, the marketplace Nord Pool and a DNO, has now spun out into its own company. It indicates what we think is the next big change for demand response – a more localised approach to flexibility, in the short term supporting constraint management.
  • Tiko, REstore, Energy Pool and Enbala: a mix of EU aggregators looking to expand their business to utilities (Software-as-a-Service models as well as partnerships) and non-EU aggregators, likely at the event to explore the EU space and gain a footprint on this side of the pond. Representatives from Open Energi and Upside Energy were also at the exhibit.
  • Honeywell finding their place in the crowd, rolling part of their Demand Side Response solution into their metering business. With a companywide ambitious move to software only, the meter is simply an enabler to an end goal, i.e. getting the data, that they can plug into their powerful data analytic tools. Honeywell is one of the established players with a strong core business in this space, and therefore in a good position to challenge the newcomers.

There does, however, seem to be an area that’s not being focused on enough: the customer. When it comes to Demand Side Response, they are certainly not meter points anymore. While we’re seeing an increasing number of players in the market, the industry really needs to start working on the customer propositions.

Looking forward

It’s an exciting time for utilities as they delve into previously unexplored territories and figure out the best ways to engage with and innovate in increasingly important areas. We’ll be discussing the interaction between Electric Vehicles and the electricity system, Demand Side Response and more at The Delta-ee New Energy Summit in Amsterdam next year.

Join us on 29-30 May 2019. Registration will open soon but, in the meantime, get in touch at info@delta-ee.com if you’re interested in attending.

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