This week Nuvve Holdings and Swell Energy say they are combining to allow electric vehicles to work alongside Virtual Power Plants, with a go to market strategy resting on existing power relationships with utilities.
There is an enormous opportunity in both Europe and the US, for utilities to offer up their customers to distributed energy resources, and if small, but smart companies offer the right toolsets for this, they could leverage utility firepower to considerable accelerate their growth curve.
Already Swell Energy, simply on the back of well written VPP software, has managed to amass 6,000 homes in Hawaii and 8,000 homes in California, based entirely on a relationship with two utilities. There is a huge benefit to distributed energy in regions of high irradiance, such as California and Hawaii.
Here’s the equation as we see it – the utility does not want to lose ownership of the electricity grid customer, so it financially backs initially a few thousand, and then a few million homes, with a proposition which says – either we or a partner can pay the cash for your solar plus storage installation, which will protect you when the grid is down, or switched off to avoid wild fires – but also we can guarantee you cheaper electricity if you let us install distributed energy on your property. Of course you want an electric car as well, so it make sense if someone who understands vehicle to grid, can bid your energy into the wholesale market, collectively, both home battery and car EV battery energy, and make more profit for you, to cut the cost of all of the installation.
This is established as an idea in parts of Europe (where solar is not so beneficial) but has really yet to take off except among the more enlightened US utilities.
Also this week, General Motors has come at this another way, partnering with Pacific Gas and Electric on the West Coast to collaborate on a similar pilot using GM electric vehicles as on-demand power sources for homes in PG&E’s service area.
PG&E and GM do not make clear who’s bidirectional charging technology the trial will use, or if the homes should have solar or home batteries, but the logic is basically the same. The idea is that the EV serves as a backup power option at home and more broadly as a resource for the grid. But major corporations like GM and PG&E are not best known for writing software themselves, so are likely to turn to someone like Nuvve and Swell anyway.
GM reckons that by end of 2025, it will have more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America, our personal view …….