Interview with Nick Woolley, co-founder an CEO at ev.energy, a leading smart charging platform
In this week’s edition, we are pleased to feature an exclusive interview with Nick Woolley, co-founder and CEO at ev.energy.
ev.energy is a unique smart charging platform with strong focus on optimal user experience for EV drivers, while connecting and optimising value for all parties in the EV charging ecosystem.
Nick and his co-founder Chris Darby, started ev.energy in 2018 with the ambition to decarbonise transport and energy, through simple, green and low-cost charging.
Nick, what triggered you and your co-founder, Chris Darby, to found ev.energy in 2018?
Both Chris and I have run various businesses since our school days. The opportunity to found a business doing a combination of both energy and technology – which we both love – was too great.
As a grid engineer, I loved the idea that electric vehicles could help balance the grid. Chris thought that charging was really painful, and there would be lots of value solving technological challenges for customers.
The trigger point for us to found ev.energy came 7 years ago. I was working for National Grid in California, and I was exposed to the full might of Tesla, on a scale that I’d only read about in the international energy press. It was clear that Tesla had made it, and that electric vehicles would be the future of decarbonised transport. I thought electric vehicles would be an exciting business opportunity, where you could have a positive impact on the world.
Following the purchase of my first electric vehicle, ev.energy was born. We set off on our mission to decarbonise transport and energy, through simple, green and low-cost charging!
When looking at current (smart) EV charging software solutions, there are very few providers that truly connect all parties in the ecosystem. Why does ev.energy decide to do that? What is unique in your solution that connects these parties?
There are many software companies entering the charging space right now. Charging is the number one challenge to solve – electric vehicle owners need to find somewhere to recharge, and the grid needs to be able to cope with the additional electricity demand from millions of electric vehicles.
At ev.energy, we focus on putting the driver at the heart of product and service, whilst simultaneously working with partners like energy networks and utilities. We don’t just deliver a charging service, or provide an interface to EVs for utilities – we do both.
We are obsessed about making our product simple to use – and we believe this is critical to the success of our service. But we are also equally aware that, if we manage electric vehicle charging smartly (as a virtual power plant), we can create value for our energy company partners. This is useful, as the additional value created flows straight back to our users, helping to make our service more attractive – for example, by unlocking charging discounts, rewards, or just through delivering a better and more integrated charging experience.
Today we have almost 60,000 drivers who love our service, with 25+ energy company partners across the USA, Australia, UK, Germany, Austria – with many more markets in the pipeline.
We believe the positive feedback loop we are establishing where the value created for the grid is fed back to customers, is unique. No one else is focused on delivering an awesome charging service for drivers that simultaneously generates value for the grid. It’s hard to pull off, because you need to understand both energy and driver. But we think we if you get it right, you can play a big role supporting the decarbonisation of both transport and energy.
What benefits do you offer your customers – be it consumers, grid operators, utilities, and CPOs – and how does ev.energy incentivise them to switch from traditional methods to more sustainable solutions?
First and foremost, our platform has to work for electric vehicle drivers.
We believe that ev.energy should be a no-brainer for our drivers: it should save you money and automatically make your charging greener. ev.energy is super simple to use – all a user has to do is plug in. We take into account your energy tariff, local grid constraints, and even your weather forecast (if you have solar panels, for example), and work out the optimum time to charge your vehicle. This typically slashes an energy bill in half, and can make charging zero carbon if you have solar. Every charge earns rewards, which can be cashed in for discounts on your energy bill, rapid charging credits, or carbon credits. You can now even transact with ev.energy outside the home – using our recently launched roaming service. Our desire is to deliver this premium charging experience to every ev.energy user.
Alongside benefits for drivers, we also provide a raft of tools for grid operators, utilities, and CPOs to understand and manage electric vehicle charging.
One of the truly valuable assets we have at ev.energy is data. We have a unique dataset of vehicle charging load that shows customer behaviour as our users transact, both inside and outside the home, across multiple charging networks. No vertically integrated player has this perspective. This data is really valuable to CPOs, and also to energy networks who are worried about the uptake of electric vehicles.
Once you understand EV charging, you then need to manage it. The big thing our grid operators love is we can turn individual electric vehicles into a powerful and valuable virtual power plant (VPP). Through our VPP a utility can flex electric vehicle load according to their requirements – for example, to reduce energy trading costs. We provide fine-grained control, so you can flex and manage each vehicle independently. There are some very compelling use cases here – for example to help a utility put excess solar or wind energy into an electric vehicle.
What are the next steps in your growth strategy?
We’re continuing to grow rapidly in Europe, USA, and also in Australia. The EV market is growing quickly, everywhere, and we are partnering with new utilities and charger partners on an almost daily basis. Our user base is also growing quickly, and we expect this to continue.
It’s an incredible privilege working in the electric vehicle space right now. There are many problems for engineers to solve – it’s an amazing time to be working as an engineer at the forefront of clean technology.
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