Building energy flexibility futures

Building energy flexibility futures

Alvin Ernest, Head of Flexibility & Commercial

It is almost one month, since my Electric Miles journey began as Head of Commercial and Energy Flexibility, what an exciting ride I’ve jumped on! There is so much opportunity in the EV market and Electric Miles is posed to make a significant impact. Why, do I think so?  Well, climate change creates global imperatives on decarbonisation and net zero living and transport is currently the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions. If we compound this reality with the rising costs of fossil fuels, we see a growing business imperative to adopt the Electric Vehicle (EV) for transport. At Electric Miles we believe EV charging and decarbonised ways of working must be aligned with the distributed and intermittent generation that renewables offer.  Therefore, our Electric Miles Energy Management platform discovers, profiles and labels, new decarbonised ways of working that emerge by industry verticals. We will then count and aggregate user-profiles to align them with the Distributed Energy Resources that dominate renewables. Our Electric Miles platform will also use ‘time’ and ‘location’ to shift consumption based on the profiles we define for energy flexibility. I am so excited, because with that Electric Miles is leading the energy transformation towards “Digital Energy”. 

These are big, big drivers! We believe the future energy system will require collaboration and cooperation on many fronts from many actors with different system responsibilities, to deliver a stable and secure system. Our EV driver smart charging app provides the fundamental basis for this coordination; for example, it provided a quantifiable measure of accessible demand that allowed Electric Miles to secure a significant 23 MWs of Demand Side Response contracts, under 3 separate Distribution System Operator agreements to deliver energy flexibility, against defined grid constraint across the UK. This also provided a validation of our system readiness towards mass EV adoption. In that light, we decided to write this simple blog to delve into the basic narratives of energy flexibility, to inform those without an “energy” background, and specifically to help those who want to leverage the “EV” ecosystem, to work out how renewable energy can work for them. 

Our take on energy flexibility 

What is energy flexibility?  At its most basic, energy flexibility is a contractual obligation of an energy user to advance or suspend their energy usage by time and/or location to lower or heighten their expected load on the grid.   

Why is energy flexibility needed? As the generation capacity or maximum output of the grid, is not defined by the peak energy requirement, it means that, by design there are peak energy events that must be managed.   

When is energy flexibility needed? Historically, the grid targeted large industrial assets for EF, and for a long time these large assets provided the means to keep supply and demand balanced.  As decarbonisation and net zero imperatives drive more intermittent renewable generation into the grid, there is increasing fluctuations in energy supply and a greater need for energy flexibility to balance supply and demand.   

How will energy flexibility evolve?  Now that large industrial assets are no longer enough to provide the flexibility needed to balance supply and demand, there is now the need to aggregate small to medium size assets so they too can participate in energy flexibility.  Critically, new government legislation sets 2030 as the end of new ICE vehicle sales, EVs are expected to replace them, potentially adding 30% to the peak energy requirements and creating a crisis for generation capacity without fossil fuels. Energy strategists now believe that energy flexibility not only provides the impetus to mitigate the advance in peak energy but to also provide the energy management and cultural evolution we need to for net zero living.  

Creating agile demand bundles 

 At Electric Miles, we see electrification as an opportunity for businesses to not only decarbonise but also to mitigate costs by generating revenue through energy flexibility. Our Flexibility API enables full scale EV aggregation from fleets and private EVs to profile and create agile demand bundles that can participate in the energy flexibility market without restricting business operation and/or lifestyle choices.  To bring this to life, consider the basic example, it begins with drivers setting their charging preference using our Electric Miles app or as an API connected 3rd party app.  Our platform algorithms find and sets the best charging schedule to deliver the lowest charging cost and carbon intensity. Moreover, we are also integrating EV driver information systems, from where the driver will also be able to not only set preferences but will also be able to use the EV dashboards to visualise real-time views of charging parameters. Our platform capabilities will expand to deliver full V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) functionality to enable drivers to use their EVs to not just power the home but to also sell excess solar/wind power generated by the home system back to the grid.  

Electric vehicles are central to energy flexibility 

The EV market collectively has the potential to become the most important hub of energy flexibility but cannot be best achieved by an individual business or EV. It requires new aggregation strategies that preserve and expands energy flexibility choices, both in the business and the home to unlock lower energy bills.  At Electric Miles we see the EV playing a very central role in the future of energy management, because it is both a load and a store. To exploit the EVs unique capabilities for energy flexibility, our Electric Miles platform will use Machine Learning, Data Mining and AI to profile EV consumption in vertical and horizontal markets for business EVs and demographic and other contextual data for private EVs.  By understanding and profiling consumption our aggregation bundles will create highly synergistic opportunities for energy flexibility.  We are keen to work with players in key verticals to understand their scope for operational flexibility, noting that gaining energy flexibility momentum in a vertical presents a source a strong differential advantage. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. 

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