Take charge of your energy | Plugged Into Virta Podcast

Smart energy management is one of the hottest topics in the electric vehicle charging industry and its importance will only increase in the coming years. Today we discuss about energy management and take a look at why it is so important. 

Guests: Ville Väre, Sales Director at Virta & Marko Räty, Sales Manager at Eaton Finland.

Host: Jason Millward

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Intro 

Jason M. 

Hello there and welcome. My name is Jason Millward and you are listening to Plugged into Virta - the electric vehicle charging podcast. The future of mobility is electric. In this podcast we will discuss the newest and hottest topics in the world of e-mobility, smart EV charging, energy management and the business around it. We will go under the surface and discuss openly about the challenges, opportunities, solutions and trends. 

We will give you honest, fact-based information and tell you what it means in practise, in plain English. So, if you want to hear insights from top experts, learn more about the world of EV charging and the future outlook, or just want to listen to some inspiring stories from around the world of EV charging, this podcast is for you. 

 

Interview 

Jason M. 

In today's episode we talk about taking charge of your energy. I'm joined today by Ville Väre and Marko Räty. Smart energy management is one of the hottest topics in the electric vehicle charging industry and its importance will only increase in the coming years. 

Today we discuss about energy management and take a look at why it's so important. So, before we dive into today's subject and talk about energy management, maybe you guys can introduce yourselves and just tell us about yourself, what do you do. 

Ville V. 

Yes, thank you, Jason. Thank you for inviting me here. So, my name is Ville Väre. I act as a director of our Energy Solutions and basically with our key customers, I'm working with the energy topics which means exactly the energy management, smart charging, bi-directional charging, everything you can get the extra value for the EV drivers from. So basically converging their EV and transportation sector to the energy world. I've been working for Virta for more than two years now and from my background, I'm from the energy business, so working for the regulator in market development actions, but also for the energy companies in different kind of tasks for developing their grid and production. 

Marko R. 

Okay, thank you Jason and Ville and thanks for inviting me. My name is Marko Räty and I'm coming from Eaton electrical Finland offices, so I'm part of our local Finnish sales organisation. What I'm doing at Eaton, I have been working as a system level sales manager, in total for one year now and my main focus is to grow our new energy storage called X storage business here in Finland. 

Previously I have been working multiple years in the field of electrical engineering, so I also have experience from electrical infrastructure engineering which has helped a lot in this new kind of field of engineering and energy systems and it's also helping to form clearer picture of the full electrical system that is under transition phase at the moment.

Jason M. 

Okay cool, thank you guys for coming. So, what does electric vehicles have to do with renewables and energy management? What is the present and future role of e-mobility in the energy sector? 

Ville V. 

Okay, I can start, and Marko will add everything I miss here. EVs and renewables are of course a perfect match. Basically, the production capacity and the number of renewable power plants is growing heavily. Renewables are basically conquering the energy market and that's coming from the technical development, the technologies are getting cheaper, and we want to get rid of the emissions. So, CO2 emissions need to be decreased and the solution is of course renewable electricity.

On the transport sector side, of course, the emissions are coming from the combustion engines. And those are being replaced with electric vehicles, which are basically zero emissions and can utilise renewables. Why this is the perfect match is that renewables and renewable production is quite often variable, meaning that wind doesn't blow always, the sun doesn't shine always. 

And EVs provide a battery capacity to basically balance this variation in the grid. So, we are getting the zero-emission world and renewables with the help of the EVs, that will basically enable us to make this happen. 

Jason M. 

Marco, anything to add?

Marko R. 

Yeah, I'm pretty much following what Ville said about EVs and renewables, they are just very perfect match. And if we want to talk generally about green transportation, we should focus on what kind of energy sources we are going to use when we want to charge our cars. 

I mean, are the sources run by fossil-based fuels or renewables. Naturally the most CO2 free solution would be arranged charging with renewables such as solar energy and generally best case or way to manage this is to produce solar power locally, for example on the rooftop of the building. 

And like Ville said, there are technologies such as energy storages in the car or stationary energy storages which can be installed inside the building and this sort of storage technology allows us to drive the green energy into the cars when it's needed. 

Jason M. 

Now, there’s much more decentralised system rather than having everything stored in a capacitor or a single power station. 

Marko R. 

Thats true, we can charge them when the cars are available. We don't have to follow the time of the day when the sun is shining the most and most energy is produced. But we can move that produced energy when we want to charge the car with the green energy. 

Ville V. 

And of course, Marko is representing Eaton. And basically what Eaton is providing - the stationary batteries and solutions for that, those are also a great fit together with EVs and renewables. Maybe Marko, you can comment a bit on this. 

Marko R. 

Yeah, I can think that these two energy storage systems ca be seen as a total system where we could optimise the dimensioning of these two and we are having this baseload coming from this stationary system and it also brings us other values for the buildings such as always available backup power without diesel power, or like that. There are multiple ways to manage these things. 

Jason M. 

As mentioned, Smart Energy Management is one of the hottest topics in electric vehicle charging and its importance is obviously only going to increase in the coming years. So why is this? 

Ville V. 

Marko, do you want to start? 

Marko R. 

Yeah, I can start. This is basically the problem that our infrastructure is facing when the EVs are arising. And large amount of EVs or smaller amount but quick charging time or combination of these two scenarios will increase the big style consumption and stress against the buildings’ electrical systems. So these electric vehicles are the real game changer of the dimensioning these existing or new buildings’ electrical systems. 

When existing ratio power in the buildings is exceeded, situation after that should be considered carefully how to manage the things. Normally, if we are looking at what is happening at the moment, companies and people are investing very large investments and long execution times for reconstruction of the building electrical systems. They are adding new transformers, switch, electrical room enlargements, cabling, and so on. 

Jason M. 

This really sounds like a major revolution of the energy industry. Since the first power stations were ever brought online, this is going to be such a game changer for the world, don't you think? 

Marko R. 

Yeah, yeah, I think so. And this is going more like this unpredictable peak demand. And if we are watching new technology like energy storage, there is no need for this kind of peak demand-based dimension of the electrical systems. We can do it more flexible with energy storage and make much more savings with electrical bills and distribution bills alongside. 

Ville V. 

Yes, I totally agree with you, Marko, on this and basically there are like two ways how you can enable for example big number of EV chargers in one location without heavy investment to your electrical equipment you have. 

But maybe to point out also why it's the hottest topic. So, if you think that energy production as an example, last year, actually in the first half of 2020, it was for the first time in Europe that electricity was produced more from the renewables than from the fossil fuels. Mainly, well, there are many sources for renewables, but if we take a look at where is this new capacity coming from, it's basically wind. More than half of the new production capacity is coming from the wind, and as we all know that there might be days that it's not windy at all, and next day it's like the new records. 

Jason M. 

Yeah, I've seen articles in BBC News for example where the UK has been going, you know, much more renewable energy than coal or other sort of fossil fuels for the longest period that they've ever done now. So, it's clear that the switch is clearly happening now. 

Ville V. 

Yes, yes exactly. I remember for example in the UK, some time ago, they had like the first day or for the first time they had a day that no coal power was needed at all. So that's quite significant. Then it means that the next day, it's probably not blowing as much. How do you manage it? Of course, we have still some fossil fuel power plants which take care of this, but if you look, for example, at the economics on this, it's not so profitable anymore and the older power plants are being closed. 

Actually, I was doing my thesis around 10 years ago. And we were doing it for the energy company, we were doing the analyses on investment and the price of the CO2 emissions was 3.5 EUR, today it is 35 EUR per tonne of carbon dioxide.  

Jason M. 

The shift is happening basically. 

Ville V. 

Yes, yes, so it's much more expensive to pollute nowadays. 

Jason M. 

Alright, so there are multitude of fancy sounding terminology involved in all this stuff, so we got things like V2G, DLM, distributed energy storages, congestion management, and so on. So could you explain a little bit more what these key technologies mean in practise? 

Ville V. 

Well, I could comment and answer shortly, for example, about the V2G and this dynamic load management. 

So, vehicle-to-grid basically means bi-directional charging solutions. It means that the EV and EV battery has been turned to act as a battery and it multiplies of course the capacity compared to uni-directional charging, which is basically demand response when you do the controlling of the charging system. So, this is like the next major step, next major revolution in EV charging business. Basically, dynamic load management. It is smart charging, meaning that you adjust the charging power. I think that Marko is good to comments on the storage side as he is an expert on that. 

Marko R. 

Yeah, I was listening to your story about DLM and I agree that when we are having free capacity in the building, we should definitely use this DLM, but whenever we are exceeding that power. So basically, when we are having more cars or we want to charge it faster, we should consider the energy storage system which is distributed in a stationary way and why this is distributed, it means that it can be placed in many locations in the same building or same building owner can have this energy storage in different buildings and still manage all this as a sum. And what this distributed system means actually and how it's constructed; it is modular and easily and fast deployable energy storage unit and these units are built basically from lithium-ion batteries, bi-directional converters and smart internally build energy management controller. Generally, you can manage and replace your electrical infrastructure changes with this and give added value to other functionalities, such as building back up power for critical systems, you can maximise the self-consumption of the solar production. 

And of course, there is the possibility to join the ancillary demand respond markets such as reserve power markets. 

Jason M. 

Okay, so how can the EV driver benefit from smart energy management? How about supermarkets and property owners and energy companies? How can we unlock the full value of energy storages and EVs as flexible assets? 

Ville V. 

That's a really good question, and I think that's the main point of the topic here. So how to unlock the value. Of course, you need to have solutions that enable customers to benefit from this. It means that you need to have an easy to understand, easy to use solutions for the customer. How they can benefit? The customers are not interested in what is the hourly price on the energy market and you need to productise it and that's what we are focusing at Virta. Basically, managing, taking into account different pricing, different market situations, the customer setup, so basically checking the different components, how the customer price for example is forming. 

And this is basically where the price comes from. For customer it should be just that: You join, you will get the discount, or you will get even revenues when you join this, and we basically optimise the charging based on the system needs and take care of everything on behalf of you. And basically, you, the society, the electricity system, everyone benefits on this. 

Jason M. 

Marko, anything to add on that? 

Marko R. 

I think Ville had a good touch to this, how the EV drivers can benefit. I was thinking about supermarkets or buildings generally. For example, if we are using energy storage in supermarkets, it can provide fast charging capabilities in the way that the supermarket owner doesn't have to invest these heavy investments in infrastructure that he already has there. And if you can provide fast charging, I think you can naturally lead more customers to your business who will come to your shop and fast charge their vehicles and make good shopping there. 

And when we're talking about building supermarkets, it is also that the solar production can be increased, aligning the right time when the highest peak demand occurs. So, these solutions can be shown in the electrical bill. 

Of course, we are having this emission free power backup or the building, for example the supermarket. And then if we are not having any other activities for the energy storage, we could join this nationally held reserve power balancing markets to create whole new revenues for the building owner and it will remarkably affect the return on investment for this kind of systems also. 

Ville V. 

And for the energy companies. This all sounds how the end user will benefit, but the whole energy system is changing and the revenues and business models for the energy companies are changing as well. Basically, with these solutions they will find, and they will have new business opportunities, new incomes from balancing markets as an example. So basically, how to manage that variable production, so the pricing will be even more volatile and the ones who have capacity to control their consumptions and their production, they are the kings. 

Jason M. 

Okay, So, what's the situation in the market at the moment? Is there a boom around the corner or is it still a bit more like science fiction? Where we're going to be in the next few years? 

Ville V. 

The market is developing really fast. Every year we see the new records. So, I think the boom is already here today. If we look, for example at the energy system, the change has already happened with EVs, the capcity is growing really rapidly. For example, in many countries the EV sales are doubling and it's getting to people's everyday life. So, the boom is already here and year after year the prices are getting lower. The manufacturers are providing new models so it's already here and it's even accelerating. 

Jason M. 

Marko, anything to add? 

Marko R. 

Yeah, that's pretty much it. If you're talking about the energy storages related to EV charging, it naturally follows the EV car market, how many we are going to have EVs in a couple of years. Of course, the problems in the connection to this in the building’s grid will arise and then we are going to think about this sort of energy storage solution. Today we're having multiple cases around Europe where our energy storage system is installed and in Finland, we're having our first project which started at the end of last year. This is very rapidly growing business and of course this booming way of renewables that need to be connected to the network, that will cause the balancing problem. So, we need to balance this unpredictable power that is coming from wind and solar, so tht our whole energy infrastructure will work as it should be. 

Jason M. 

Okay, great guys. Thank you very much for joining us. It's been a pleasure. I hope to see you in the future. 

Ville V. 

Thank you very much. It was a pleasure. 

Marko R. 

Yes, thank you. 

 

Outro 

Jason M. 

And that’s it for this episode of Plugged into Virta: The electric vehicle charging podcast. Thank you for listening! 

If you liked this podcast, don’t forget to follow and subscribe. And please share it to your colleagues and friends. We appreciate all your feedback, reviews and ratings, too. 

You can connect with us on LinkedIn @virtaltd. 

And if you are looking for more information about EV charging, e-mobility and energy management, visit us at www.virta.global. 

Until next time, thank you for joining us. Let’s take charge of the future – together.  

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