October 2021 Smart Energy News

By Pilgrim - October 18, 2021

EV charging

  • This month in the UK, EV drivers have been the only people not suffering from 'range anxiety', thanks to a self-inflicted shortage of fossil fuels at the pumps. Enquiries into EV ownership have doubled.
  • Local UK petrol stations have fallen in number. As a follow-up to last year's Pain Points" research into public EV charging, we're researching the main challenges to growth in EV charging – contact me to contribute and discuss.
  • Once the terminal date for ICE cars looms, seems no-one wants to buy them: EVs will become roughly 100% of cars sold in Norway by Q2 next year a full 3 years ahead of the official 2025 deadline.
  • Zap Map have released a continuously-updating summary of UK CPOs which at time of writing shows around 26k public charging points (of which 5k rapids), with YoY growth of 30%, so industry predictions are still on track despite COVID.
  • Which reminds me of the EV growth predicted by Pod Point founder Erik Fairbairn back in 2018 - we do seem to be right on track. Pod Point's IPO is next month
  • Hot on the heels of their Amazon win, EO will supply rapid chargers to Tesco's van fleet
  • 3 years in the making, Octopus' PowerLoop project now has 130 vehicles enrolled into live V2G grid balancing.
  • "Assure Charge" seeks to improve service quality by identifying and commissioning maintenance proactively, a collaboration between Connected Kerb, DevicePilot and the University of Strathclyde.
  • As in all new markets, common terminology helps clear communication. When speaking with the industry, we are trying to teach ourselves to use the OCPP terminology (see picture on p5 of their spec):
    • Charging station – analogous to a "gas station", it's a site which often hosts multiple EVSEs
    • EVSE – Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, aka the charging point, charger or device
    • Connector – each EVSE can support multiple connectors (different standards), but can supply only one at a time
  • We found Confessions of an EV driver most amusing!

Smart Energy

  • Gas prices: Dustin Benton of the Green Alliance explained UK issues with high gas prices – their causes and (long-term) solutions. The Economist is worried that high energy prices will turn people against green initiatives. And the UK govt's long-delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy looks likely to phase-out gas boilers from 2035 and move green levies from electricity onto gas. Meanwhile Dutch home-owners are focusing on insulation.
  • A potential coup for Warren East, head of Rolls Royce (ex-boss of ARM) - persuading the UK govt to build up to 16 SMRs (an SMR is a 300MW nuclear reactor in a box)
  • Octopus: Hidden in their release about raising £600m was an update on just how far their 'Kraken' ops platform has spread in the industry – it now runs 17m accounts and is licensed to 5 other utilities including big brand names. Gotta love their attitude: Octopus bots can now proactively diagnose issues before the customer even calls - exactly the kind of fantastic service experience we enable at DevicePilot.
  • Flow batteries decouple 'power production' battery components from 'energy storage' battery components, enabling the latter to be big yet cheap, giving them the potential to store enough energy to ride out not just blips in generation, but days-long troughs in wind production. They've been a long time coming, but now the US is placing orders as large as 2GWh – for scale, that's 15x the size of Tesla's famous Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia, which uses much more expensive Li-ion batteries.
  • The world's longest electricity link has gone live (400 miles, 1.2GW) from Norway to UK – just in time, we need it!
  • And coming up, an even more extreme project: build PV where it's sunny, then ship the electricity thousands of miles up North to places where it's not: 10.5GW of solar in Morocco, wired all the way back to the UK. Wow. While some cite "energy security" as a reason not to do this, security seems to me to be an excellent reason to do lots of it.
  • Interesting to see just how close Scotland is to self-sufficient renewable generation (caveats apply).
  • On a personal note, as the 4kW of solar panels on my home pass their 10th anniversary they are now well into the "returns" phase of the investment, in both cash and carbon terms. I've just had a myEnergi Eddi solar immersion diverter installed, using excess generation to heat my hot water rather than spilling it almost free to the grid. I'm impressed – Eddi is well thought-through and well-engineered, within a wider ecosystem which includes intelligent EV charging. For the first time ever, I have an accurate, real-time view of generation vs. import vs. consumption – and watching free stuff happen is always addictive. So far it's managing to give us around 2 free showers-worth of hot water a day, and I estimate payback (including installation cost) will be around 5 years.


  • Despite its dry title, the talk "Integrating IoT Connectivity" was worth a listen as its main topic was how to achieve interoperability at the data layer above the carrier layer, i.e. semantic interoperability at the app level. In my view this is one of the last great challenges in IoT, and a way to unlock a lot more value. DevicePilot has lots of experience of this challenge.
  • Senet's public carrier-grade LoRAWAN network is going to be interoperable with Helium's guerrilla network, presumably delivering even better LoRA coverage across the US. Fascinating to see so much creativity being applied to business models in IoT connectivity.
  • Smartphones have made camera technology incredibly cheap and low-power, and now low-power computer vision at the edge turns cameras into the most amazing sensors.
  • JFrog (Devops tool) acquired Upswift (IoT device management)
  • As e-ink becomes mainstream for IoT displays (like Wundasmart home heating), here's a worked example of battery-free e-ink sensor prototyping. One day, at-a-glance displays will be everywhere.

Until next month,


P.S. this is my 31st monthly update. Receive a copy ahead of everyone else by signing-up for your own copy.


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Erik in a circle-1

Erik Fairbairn, CEO at POD Point:
Achieved 99% uptime across device estate

"We're totally data driven at POD Point, and if we can answer a question using data then we think that’s the best way - there’s no guesswork and you can use the facts.

Our DevicePilot dashboards have really let us get that actionable insight out of our devices."