ENERGY WATCH #3 - October 16, 2018
EDF pitches to become leading e-mobility provider in Europe, Renault builds storage plant from EV batteries
by Karel Beckman
In the electricity sector, the energy transition comes in the form of renewable energy. In the transport sector, a similar transition is taking place, in the form of electric cars.
It is still a slow, almost stealthy transition, which has no impact yet on oil demand, but it has all the signs of a gathering storm. We have been following developments in the EV market closely on Energy Post Weekly, and almost every week has brought major news from major companies (such as here, here, and here – and you can go through our archives for more.)
This week is no exception. On 10 October, French state-owned EDF – the largest utility company in Europe – has announced it “intends to become Europe’s leading e-mobility energy company by 2022”.
EDF launched what it calls its Plan Mobilité Electrique (Electric Mobility Plan) in order to become the sector’s leading energy company on its four biggest European markets: France, UK, Italy and Belgium.
This comes after launching the Plan Solaire (Solar Plan) in December 2017 and the Plan Stockage Electrique (Electricity Storage Plan) in March 2018.
In France, “EDF is already a standard-bearer in the electric mobility sector”, notes the company – which has a great advantage in that its own electricity generation is 87% CO2-free thanks to its nuclear power stations. “The Group has put together dedicated offerings that include the supply of low-carbon electricity and charging solutions. It is also one of the biggest charging network operators thanks to its subsidiary Sodetrel, which operates 5 000 charging points in France and provides access to 60 000 charging points in Europe for customers with a Sodetrel Pass.”
With the Electric Mobility Plan, EDF is “stepping up the pace” by setting three concrete targets on its four main European markets:
- Becoming the leading power supplier for electric vehicles by 2022
EDF is aiming to supplying power for 600 000 electric vehicles, equating to 30% of market share in France, the UK, Italy and Belgium. Starting in 2019, the Group will present each of these markets with a fully integrated range of offerings including low carbon electricity, a charging solution for all its customers with access to a parking space, and services geared towards optimised charging and use of the vehicle’s battery.
- Becoming the biggest charging network operator
EDF will become the leading public and private charging network operator in the four core European countries. Through its subsidiary Sodetrel, the Group is aiming to deploy 75,000 charging points and provide its customers in Europe with access to 250,000 interoperable terminals by 2022. EDF will also be developing novel charging solutions for all customers without access to a parking space, in particular through collaborative innovation initiated by EDF New Business and EDF R&D.
- Becoming Europe’s “smart charging” leader
Electric mobility will transform power systems as the electric vehicle is also a battery that can be used for the grids to balance load during periods of high demand. With its Electric Mobility Plan, the Group will become Europe’s smart charging leader, aiming to operate 4 000 smart charging points by 2020.
EDF notes that “the Plan Mobilité Electrique relies on new partnerships with innovative players who are leaders in their respective markets.”
The first series of partnerships has been formed between:
EDF and NUVVE: EDF Renewables North America holds a minority interest in NUVVE, a Californian start-up based in San Diego specialising in the aggregation and harnessing of flexible solutions for energy markets, associated with the charging of electric vehicles. EDF and NUVVE have signed a strategic partnership agreement with a view to forming a joint venture to develop these solutions in Europe.
EDF and Ubitricity: EDF and German-based start-up Ubitricity have been commercial and technological partners since 2014. Ubitricity has developed an innovative solution to convert existing streetlights into charging points and delivered several projects in Europe and across the world. Citelum (100% affiliate of
EDF Group) and Ubitricity are partnering to integrate this innovative solution to Citelum’s “smart city” range of product.
EDF and Renault have formed a partnership to develop shared offerings and to experiment electric mobility solutions in isolated regions and big cities.
EDF and Toyota have been electric mobility partners with a focus on R&D since 2007 and have extended this partnership to low-carbon industrial performance on the Onnaing site in Valenciennes since 2017. The expertise of both EDF and Toyota is now opening the way to new cooperative endeavours in the areas of smart charging and hydrogen charging station specifications.
EDF and Valeo: EDF, the low carbon energies champion and Valeo, the leader in high and medium voltage electrification, have formed a partnership to monitor the development of future battery technologies and charging solutions, as well as the development of mobility services. This partnership will be supported by the installation of shared demonstrators.
EDF Energy (100% subsidiary of the EDF Group) and Nissan International have formed a UK-based partnership for the development of shared offerings in the areas of electric mobility, smart charging, second-life battery use, energy storage and renewable energy sources. The two partners will be pooling their international experience and know-how in these areas, thereby helping to develop low-carbon, innovative and responsible transportation systems.
What is particularly noteworthy about EDF’s announcement is that it comes from a major incumbent company. In this respect there is an important difference between the EV revolution and the renewables revolution. In the latter case, incumbent utility companies initially resisted the transition. In the case of EVs, they have an interest in advancing it.
For incumbent European car companies the story is different of course. They have needed competition from Tesla to be shaken out of their lethargy.
Arguably with one exception: French-Japanese car maker Renault-Nissan has long been in the forefront of the EV revolution. As far back as 2008, Renault and Nissan formed a joint venture with Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, based on an inventive battery swap scheme. The company, Better Place, went bankrupt in 2013.
But Renault-Nissan-Mitsbushi, as the company is now called (it is said to be the biggest car manufacturer in the world) has not given up on its EV ambitions. The Nissan Leaf, for example, has been Europe’s bestselling car in the lower price segment.
Recently, at the end of September, the Renault Group launched Advanced Battery Storage, “a stationary storage system for energy developed exclusively from EV batteries.”
The new battery system, with a storage capacity of at least 60 MWh, making it the biggest system of its kind ever built in Europe, will solve two problems at one stroke: it will help integrate intermittent power generation from renewables – and it will be built with used EV batteries.
The first facilities will be developed in early 2019 on three sites in France and Germany: at the Renault plants in Douai and Cléon and at a former coal-fired plant in North Rhine-Westphalia. The storage capacity will then be gradually expanded over time to contain the energy of 2,000 EV batteries. At this phase, the system will have reached – or more likely, exceed – the 60 MWh, equivalent to the daily consumption of a city of 5,000 households, notes Renault.
The system will use both second-life batteries, as well as new batteries stored for future use in standard replacement during after-sales operations.
What is important about this move is that it will extend Renault’s role as a vehicle manufacturer “to become a player in the smart electric and energy ecosystems”, as the company notes, “with the help of its partners. As part of the “Advanced Battery Storage” program, Groupe Renault has joined up with several players including La Banque des Territoires, the Mitsui Group, Demeter (via le Fonds de Modernisation Ecologique des Transports), andThe Mobility House.”
How fast the EV revolution could happen, if the right incentives are put in place, is demonstrated by Norway, global leader in EV sales.
The latest data show that this oil and gas exporter achieved record EV sales in September. As the website The Driven reports, “Of 10,620 new passenger vehicles registered in Norway, nearly half were electric, according to the Norwegian Road Traffic Advisory Council (OFV).”
“The car market in September was particularly special, new Norway records and a new world record were introduced for the sale of electric cars,” said Øyvind Solberg Thorsen, director of the OFV.
For the first time in modern history, electric cars stood for almost half of passenger car sales for a month, notes The Driven. “New electric cars had a market share of 45.3 per cent, and including imports of almost new electric cars, the proportion was 47.7 per cent.”
“Such an increase in electric car sales caused a record low CO2 emissions of 55 g/km. Although we in Norway are accustomed to average CO2 emissions falling from month to month, this is the lowest level we have ever measured,” said Solberg Thorsen.
One of the reasons behind the record-breaking month is the introduction of stricter methods of measuring fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, notes The Driven. “The new measurement method means higher consumption and CO2 emissions and therefore entails that taxes increase on most passenger cars with internal combustion engines, including rechargeable hybrids.”
Comparing CO2 emissions levels from the previous year, average emissions for all first-time registered new passenger cars in September 2018 came in at 55g/km, a full 16g/km lower than September 2017.
Of the 10,620 passenger cars sold, 4810 new passenger cars were registered with zero emissions, 954 more than 12 months previous when the market share was 28.6 per cent. Only eight of the new registered passenger cars in September were hydrogen cars, the rest were battery electric cars.
While all-electric and hydrogen vehicles registrations increased, hybrids dropped, notes The Driven.