The role of utilities in electric mobility

Valentina Neri Serneri Nov 9, 2020 · 3 min read

The growth of renewable and decentralized energy sources is disrupting the business model of electric utility companies. At the same time, progressive utilities are adjusting to changes in the energy market by entering new ones, like electric mobility.

BloombergNEF estimates there will be about 500 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2040. The growth of this market will have a massive impact on global energy consumption, creating new opportunities for electric utility providers who will need to innovate to remain competitive

What are the opportunities for utilities in electric mobility?

Electric mobility opens up limitless opportunities for electric utilities. The green revolution has just begun; here we break down the booming business models.

Electric utilities as Charge Point Operators (CPOs)

Utilities across the globe are investing heavily in the expansion of public charging infrastructure, to favor the adoption of electric mobility. This increased electricity demand will, in turn, lead to increased revenue. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the energy consumption of the transportation sector (private and freight) is expected to grow by 40% on average over the next three decades. And according to Open International, 52% of the electric utilities in the U.S.A. are pursuing EV charging as a revenue stream.

Modernize the grid infrastructure

In many markets, electric utilities also manage the grid infrastructure. Their knowledge in this space enables them to improve the grid, while the world’s electrification keeps moving forward. Electric mobility poses many challenges that can be swiveled into opportunities. For example, in areas where the number of EVs is growing, utilities must find smart solutions to avoid peak loads. Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technologies are part of a broader palette of solutions.

Utilities are moving away from being electricity generators, distributors, and anonymous retailers; towards becoming service providers. From smart homes to building solutions, utilities are working on diversifying their offering and extending their value beyond electricity contracts. This change involves electric mobility as well, both in business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B).

EV Routing for utilities

The electric mobility sector is extremely fragmented and utilities play a vital role in ensuring that EV driver experience continues to get better. One solution is to offer EV drivers a smart tool that helps them overcome their existing concerns. As most CPOs already have their own charge map, the next step is to integrate routing.

EV routing offers multiple benefits to utilities. As CPOs, electric utilities can leverage the use of their network by redirecting drivers to charging stations that are available. This solves the problem of charge anxiety, that is, the uncertainty of being able to charge due to waiting lines and unreliable hardware.

Furthermore, EV routing tools improve EV drivers’ overall user experience. Utilities can use this to strengthen their position as service providers, both among private and business clients.

Selling residential charge stations

The Global EV Outlook 2020 shows that most people charge their cars at home — regardless of the market. In order to seize this revenue opportunity, utilities have started to sell residential charge stations. Some players are already offering bundles that include electricity contracts, home-charging stations, and other appliances, for an energy-efficient house.

Forward-thinking utilities will embrace electric mobility as a part of their business operations and invest in the EV transition of their clients. Th, ultimately, will provide them a competitive advantage.