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In interview with…Carola Jonas, Everty

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Carola Jonas | CEO | Everty

The growth of the EV sector is progressing at a rapid rate, and in Australia presents both complex challenges and opportunities for the utility sector. By investing in infrastructure, developing smart grids and working closely with the automotive industry, utilities can help to ensure that the transition to EVs is as smooth and seamless as possible. What does this roadmap to success of EV adoption look like, for industry and consumers alike? 

We sit down with Carola Jonas, CEO and co-founder of Everty, and take a detailed look into what we can expect for Australia’s EV in the near future.

1. What is the most important step that Australia’s network needs to take to be ready for the transition to EV?

Many people talk about EVs being a strain on our electricity network as the number of EVs increases, and they are correct. In certain areas of the low-voltage grid this can already happen in tiny pockets of the grid with a small number of EVs and in the short-term we may have to upgrade and invest into the grid. However, there are also many applications where EVs can actively support the grid, e.g. charging during daytime to flatten the duck curve when we have lots of solar going into the grid.

There will also be some great applications where EVs can feed energy back into the grid and participate in Demand Response (DR) and Virtual Power Plants (VPPs). One really important step is to get the system design right and to allow the market to build out the smart controls to fully integrate technical DR and VPPs with the market architecture, and at the same time create value for consumers.

2. How large of a part will the EV rollout play in Australia’s path to net-zero and decarbonizing our grid? Will this benefit or hinder our energy systems?

To achieve net zero, we need to decarbonise all sectors and energy and transport are the biggest sectors generating half of Australia’s GHG emissions. Therefore, we must urgently transition to EVs and make sure that the electricity that’s delivered to the cars comes from renewable energy. Both go hand in hand and can simultaneously shorten the overall transition time. Our energy systems need to be ready for EVs but as mentioned, EVs can really benefit and support the NEM.

3. Are we paying enough attention to how the EV rollout will occur in regional areas of Australia? An ABC interview in October had Carly-Irving Dolan noting that we may be going to be building [these chargers] where there is actually no power there at all. What impact will this have on electrifying our grid at an efficient pace?

In locations, where there’s no power at all, several options exist.

Firstly, you could be looking to connect these areas to the NEM, but that would be a very costly exercise depending on how remote the connection and how much electricity that location requires.

Secondly, with Australia’s large distances, it was clear that we will not have one single interconnected electricity market, but a need to build out microgrids like they’ve done in Western Australia (WA). WA has proven that microgrids have a big role to play in remote areas. Orchestrating microgrids and making sure that electricity is available where and when it’s needed, EVs can support this through managed smart charging. They can soak up excess energy or through Vehicle to Grid feeding back into microgrids in the future.

Lastly, some EV charging stations can and will even be stand-alone using solar and batteries, not connecting to any form of grid whatsoever, such as in mining or defence sites. Utilities can play an important role here by offering and operating such solutions.

It is important that AEMO and the DNSPs carefully forecast EV uptake and develop plans on how to best integrate with the overarching systems.

4. As an industry, there has been growing discussion on the concept of V2G/V2X/V2L which includes the role of consumers and fostering a bilateral marketplace. What are the implications on the network and operators?

V2X is essentially vehicle to everything and is a very exciting technology. For example, you can charge your EV from solar during the day and then drive to a campground or picnic and have your outdoor setting powered from your car. That’s what people call Vehicle to Load because you are connecting your vehicle to a fridge or loudspeaker, etc. V2L can also power your home or home appliances for a while after a blackout. Again for example, if a storm or a bushfire cuts out a transmission line or tower, the vehicle can become your temporary energy source.

In the future, we’ll also see Vehicle to Building where multiple cars could support and office building or an entertainment venue during its peak. And finally, cars can feed directly back into the grid when there are constraints e.g. a peak demand event or on a more regular basis to smooth out peak periods or to flatten the duck curve.

EVs will become a load that involves consumers and consumer behaviour patterns and utilities can participate and support this through various solutions that help with the orchestration. Our electricity markets are getting more and more decentralized and it is important that we have the right protections and regulations in place but that we also encourage active participation from solar, batteries, EVs, etc.

5. Following on from the previous question, does this create more work for the energy + utilities sectors? Will the grid be able to hold up with demand?

Our energy and utilities sector will undergo a massive transformation as we ‘electrify everything’ e.g. getting gas out of our houses and kitchens, and people consume more and more energy from ever more devices and appliances. At the same time, integrating the solar industry into the old model of energy and utilities has proven that it can be done and hopefully we can take a lot of learnings from the last two decades in solar. There is still a lot of potential to get smarter through digitalisation. This includes making sure that loads on grids and buildings can be orchestrated in a smart and automated way that has positive impacts on the grid, and can potentially benefit the owner of a solar system, EV charger, etc.

6. How important is visibility for stakeholders to further progress mass adoption of EV from both industry and consumers? What does this look like?

With the rise of new technology, consumers are moving from consuming energy to generating and trading energy with various stakeholders either directly or via aggregators. There will always be teething issues with early adoption of different technologies, that’s how innovation works and eventually society will be better off in the long-term. We should embrace technology changes and prepare for them. We’ve done it with photography, streaming on demand, smartphones and so many other things we take for granted and EVs will be fully integrated into our daily lives in the next decade. It’s an exciting period in the energy and transport industry converging them both.

Meet Carola Jonas

Carola is the CEO and co-founder of Everty, an electric vehicle charging network and charging station management software solution. Everty works with EV owners, businesses, utilities and other organisations to increase the uptake of EVs and making EV ownership and use easier.

She is also a member of the Electric Vehicle Council Australia and held a board position on the rotating board and worked with industry partners to increase EV uptake in Australia.

Carola has previously worked as a sustainability and marketing consultant with brands like Enphase Energy to bring storage solutions, micro inverters and smart software to market and assisted EnergyLab, the first clean energy accelerator in Australia, to build and grow a vibrant start-up community of clean-tech companies and female entrepreneurs.

Carola has a background in working for NGOs, multinational corporations and Government. She has worked for household names such as Climate Friendly, NABERS (Office of Environment and Heritage), Transparency International and DB Schenker. Carola has been able to combine her marketing and sustainability skills to positively affect communities and organisations in Australia and overseas.

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