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What will electric vehicle take-off mean for the electricity sector?

EVs 2

At the most simplistic level an answer is “more demand for electricity? Hooray!”

Peel back the layers of the onion (in this case a big juicy onion) a little more, and you might have some more detailed answers.

  • More revenue for electricity retailers - an opportunity to sell more electricity and related services.
  • A fantastic new source of flexibility, as markets open up more and more to demand-side flexibility.
  • A new opportunity for infrastructure players for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and networks.

For sure, lots of opportunities – ones that are clear and obvious, and others that are a little more hidden today. However with one big question mark, one big ‘caution’ mark, and a big flashing warning light.

The question mark – how will people charge their electric vehicle? Answering this question is much harder than it was a year or two ago, with advances in battery technology and the advent of ultra-fast charging meaning petrol-station type charging in forecourts will be a reality. The mix of charging from distributed, slow and controllable through to ultra-fast charging will have big implications for networks and up the electricity value chain.

The ‘caution mark’ – electricity companies that believe they will have these opportunities to themselves better think again. This space is wide open. Many other companies have their eyes on this prize – from automotive companies to new entrants into the energy space. For example, look at BMW’s joint venture with Viessmann, and their Digital Charging Service.

And the big flashing warning light? If companies other than electricity-sector incumbents succeed in grabbing part of this space, why stop at the car? Looking at homes, with V2H (Vehicle to Home) another acronym to add to the many in the electricity sector, it’s only one step to move from optimising a car’s energy to optimising a home’s energy.

So for electricity-sector incumbents it’s both a huge opportunity but a huge potential threat.

Onions can be flavoursome and tasty, or they can make your eyes water and give you indigestion. For electricity-sector incumbents, this particular big, juicy onion could go either way and be a source of pleasure or pain. For others, it’s likely to be flavoursome and tasty – the question for them is how much of the onion they can, or want to sink their teeth into.

At Delta-ee we’re launching new research to help our clients get the most from this particularly exciting part of the energy space. Two multi-client studies will address two of the key questions I’ve outlined above:

  • How will customers charge electric vehicles – exploring the future mix between different speeds and locations of charging, including new primary research with customers?
  • What retail propositions are emerging across Europe and beyond, and what are the different underlying business models behind these?

We’ll be sharing highlights from this research in future blogs, so sign up to our blogs if you’re interested.

More details are available at www.delta-ee.com/EVs, and as in all of our research we’d be delighted to discuss the Electric Vehicle – Electricity interface with you and exchange views and opinions.

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