By Olivier Dubois, Electric Mobility Director for EDF Group

The Business of Mobility is an Urban Mobility Company series highlighting some of the most successful new businesses in the mobility sector. Featuring a closer look at the way in which companies stand out, CEOs, Directors and other c-level executives elaborate on what it takes to turn a great idea into a great company.

Olivier Dubois explains how EDF sees carbon-free electricity as the solution to decarbonise transport. To push electric mobility forward, EDF Group has dedicated offers with low carbon electricity and charging solutions such as smart charging systems.

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A great opportunity

Some years back, I made the individual transition to electric mobility, trading in my combustion vehicle for a Renault Zoe. My personal change to electric coincided with a shift for EDF Group, who, as part of the EV100 program, committed to converting its entire light vehicle fleet to electric by 2030 – which we are well on the way to achieving.

This shift to EVs is part of a world trend. As a recent McKinsey report states: “as many as 130 million EVs could be sharing roads the world over by 2030”. And herein lies a great opportunity for power utilities like EDF to help decarbonise transport.

A commitment to charging infrastructure

In the past, power utilities focused on maximising sales of kilowatt hours, whereas today we want to help customers achieve carbon neutrality. EDF’s raison d’être calls for a “net zero energy future”, and indeed we’re committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of our commitment to carbon neutrality, in 2018 we launched an Electric Mobility Plan, with smart charging as one of the three key pillars.

Decarbonising transport

According to Our World in Data, transport accounts for around one-fifth of global carbon dioxide. Decarbonising transport will involve many factors, but electrifying vehicle fleets is a good start, especially for France, whose electricity (thanks to EDF’s large nuclear capacity) is 96% CO2 free. However, the rise of EVs is going to place extra demand on grids. Smart charging gives us the tools to manage that demand, maximising efficiency and levelling out peaks.

What is smart charging and why does it matter?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has delivered great advances in IoT, ensuring that existing physical assets are optimised for efficiency and utility. With a smart charger (either V1G or V2G) you give the grid access to your car battery, ensuring it is being charged at the optimal time for the grid and for your pocket. A user interface (e.g. mobile app) lets you program your usage needs, and the system does the rest, optimising not only for your needs but also for the grid. For example, I plug my Zoe in at work, content in the knowledge that the charge is optimised so that it adds no extra demand to the national grid, ensuring my commute is carbon neutral.

Smart charging ensures your car is automatically charged when the grid has excess capacity and the price is low, like hot-water geysers programmed to heat at night to benefit from cheaper rates.

From V1G to V2G: How the EV fleet can function as storage for the grid

Consider that electricity grids are built to meet peak demand, usually in the morning or early evening when people are readying for work or arriving home from work. Peak demand can exceed base load (the minimum amount of power that must be supplied to the electric grid at any given time) by as much as 30%. A smart grid, where there are plugged smart charging vehicles, uses the excess capacity during low-demand times to top-up EVs. Given that solar and wind are variable, the addition of renewables complicates matters somewhat. But EVs can complement renewables by acting as a distributed storage system. By way of example of the potential of EV’s to store energy, according to this article, eight million EVs in the United States would constitute 15 – 20% of that country’s electricity capacity. If a country’s transport goes fully electric, the opportunity to store electricity from renewables will be immense.

With V2G smart chargers the electricity flows in both directions, allowing your car battery to store energy for the grid. EDF Group – through subsidiaries like Dreev – is promoting the adoption of V2G by offering cash incentives for fleet owners. You keep your car plugged in when it’s not being used and Dreev fills it up when the wind blows, or the sun shines, and then takes a little bit out of each vehicle should the grid need it. Dreev’s current offer (in partnership with Nissan) covers most people’s monthly EV electricity costs to compensate the electricity given back to the grid.

Partnering for carbon neutrality

Dreev (whose tech was developed by startup Nuvve) is one of a few companies set up by EDF to promote smart charging for cleaner mobility. There is also Pod Point in the UK and Izivia in France. Izivia customers can access more than 100 000 charging points across Europe, with more being added all the time.

EDF is a power utility and a charging operator who believes the future of sustainable mobility is conditioned to a strong ecosystem that includes energy producers, vehicle OEMs, charge point manufacturers, as well as operators and aggregators. In this context, partnership are essentials to go further.

The right charging point for customers’ needs

For its customers, EDF Group offers charging solutions for 4 uses: charging in residential areas, in companies, local charging (for when you are shopping or staying in a hotel) and rapid charging stations. These cases are always committed to the reasonable deployment of charging stations which will be: inclusive, reassuring, viable, and studied. In a word: having the right charging point at the right place. In order to achieve this goal, services are shaped to the specific needs of customers, whether they are individuals with IZI by EDF, companies with EDF & IZIVIA, or local authorities with IZIVIA and Citelum.

EDF Group is resolutely committed, along with its subsidiaries, to contributing to the decarbonisation of transport for all its customers, local authorities and businesses, in order to win the battle against climate change and, in doing so, improve air quality through more sustainable mobility.

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet with EDF’s experts at Autonomy Digital 2.0, where they will be present as a Headline Partner! Register today