Smart charging firm wins UKPN flex contracts, eyes BM next


Smart charging platform had 14 bids accepted by UK Power Networks in its latest flexibility procurement round.

The firm’s technology optimises EV charging times and loads to save drivers money, reduce congestion on grids and make best use of low carbon generation.

The company thinks it is the first time flexibility from domestic electric vehicles has won a commercial tender.

William Goldsmith: EVs will provide significant source of flex

Head of grid services, William Goldsmith, said now has some 25MW of EV load on its platform.

He could not disclose how much of that would be used to provide flex for UKPN, as the commercial process is ongoing. But it seems likely that the 14 accepted bids, for multiple years, are each at the lower end of UKPN’s 50kW minimum threshold.

Quick growth

Founded two years ago by Nick Woolley and Chris Darby, has made rapid progress, with almost 10,000 EV drivers now on its platform.

“So while we’re not quite mass market yet, we are certainly getting a diverse range of customer sets,” says Goldsmith. “It is not just the early adopter energy geeks any more.” spent year one proving its technology, integrating with an initial 10 Tesla drivers as beta users, before signing its first utility partnership with Igloo Energy to conduct a smart charging trial.

In July 2019 it struck a deal with chargepoint manufacturer Rolec to integrate with its chargers and in September was named the ‘world’s best energy start up’ and awarded $200,000 by Free Electrons, the global accelerator programme.

Two months later it won EDF’s Pulse Innovation challenge and has since struck agreements with other utilities – including ESB and Eon as well as firms in continental Europe, the US and Australia – winning a £250k grant from InnovateUK along the way. Earlier this month Volkswagen Group chose as one of five start-ups it will work with to explore smart charging. was also a strategic partner with UK Power Networks on its smart charging innovation project, Shift, enabling it to show the DNO that its technology and portfolio management is sufficiently robust to deliver when required.

DNO flex and BM next?

Goldsmith says the company hopes to win further flexibility contracts with DNOs including Western Power Distribution, with whom it is working on the Intraflex project.

While UKPN is offering flex providers long-term contracts, the Intraflex project, which involves spot market operator Nord Pool’s Nodes platform, should afford valuable experience of bidding for services closer to real time.

That should help enable another ambition: it hopes to bid flexibility from EVs into the Balancing Mechanism (BM), National Grid ESO’s main tool for balancing the power system close to real time.

While there are challenges around suppliers ramping up half hourly settlement, Goldsmith is confident that there are ways it could participate in the BM on a trial or test basis sooner rather than later.

Despite the Balancing Mechanism requiring a minimum threshold, Golding says the firm “could get to a 1MW aggregated clip size in the near future”.

For the meantime, it will continue to focus on the primary objective.

“The biggest thing for us is to get people smart charging in the first place,” says Golding. “To go mainstream, that requires incentivisation and education. So we’re focusing on making it simpler – and smarter.”

Related stories:

UK Power Networks accepts 123MW of flex bids, EVs included

Tesla gets UK supply licence ahead of virtual power plant push


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