Offering e-mobility solutions and services is quickly becoming vital for utilities.
This can range from smart charging solutions, crafting vehicle-to-grid (V2G) projects, or energy storage solution. British energy supplier OVO Energy, for example, has recently announced a portfolio of four new, innovative products integrating electric vehicle (EV) technology, offering solutions in all the aforementioned areas.
American utilities are also advancing fast on the e-mobility integration area. For example, Austin Energy, the publicly-owned energy provider for the area of Austin, Texas, has launched several EV-driven projects as part of their service portfolio, including Electric Drive, which is an electric transportation hub in Austin powered entirely by renewable energy. It features dedicated parking for two EV charging stations, as well as a solar-powered kiosk that can recharge other electrical devices, such as electric bikes and even mobile phones. Another of Austin Energy’s programmes is EV360, which is a time-of-use rate pilot programme for EV residential charging.
In addition, the New York Power Authority, the utility for the state of New York, is keen on accelerating and enabling e-mobility by installing thousands of charging stations across the state. Its current goal is to install 10,000 charging stations by 2021.
Industry partners to enable e-mobility
Following the trend of e-mobility innovation, energy supplier E.ON, one of the United Kingdom’s largest utilities, is also actively devising a roadmap to integrate it into its business model.
At Engerati Meets this June, we sought to unpack the business case of integrating e-mobility solutions into the utility business models and the opportunities that can be found in the field. We asked Nico Friedmann, Senior Manager Business Development E-mobility at E.ON, about the utility’s strategy in developing e-mobility solutions.
"Our approach to e-mobility is that we are looking for partnerships,” says Friedmann. “We would like to be the partner of choice not only for mobility but also for energy solutions"
“We are scanning the market constantly for new interesting things that are coming up. We are also developing ideas by ourselves and discussing with existing partners to see how we could make a business model out of it."
To Friedmann, it is also important to keep in mind how a utility can generate valuable revenue from EV integration. "I think you have to cover the whole value chain, so from our point of view it's very important to see e-mobility not only as selling hardware or providing services, but also as a mobility solution, and this starts with the grid connection, the hardware, the installation and all the businesses around it."
The secret is customer engagement
Friedmann tells us that, in addition to having the right industry partners, another essential aspect of successfully integrating EVs into the utility business model is engaging with customers, both individuals and businesses.
In fact, engaging with the B2B customer and finding out what their specific needs play a significant role in a successful integration programme. "We are talking to the customers and doing workshops with them. Customers are also actively approaching us and asking E.ON what we can do for them to electrify their fleets. Then, together with the customer, we look for the best solution," says Friedmann.
"We can offer solutions where we help the customer install the charging points, and we can also help them make a decision on what EVs to employ. There are also other solutions that we need to develop alongside customers."
To E.ON, listening to customer demands and needs is one of the most important pieces in the puzzle of not only integrating EVs, but bringing the utility business model into the 21st century. “You would have to step up and stay on top of the market and listen to the customer. I think we are quite good at that, although it can get better."