National Grid ESO, which manages Britain’s electricity, was facing a problem last October.
With an energy crisis gaining momentum, Britain’s power grid was under the highest pressure to meet demand while our energy supply has never been stretched so thin.
That’s why National Grid ESO made the Demand Flexibility Service - an initiative aimed to encourage all companies that manage electricity to help flex when they draw power from the grid - in a rallying cry to help limit peak energy demand as much as possible.
Five of our women at ev.energy jumped on the case to help and, in honour of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on the remarkable work they did to make this programme a reality.
As fuel supplies fell short last year, countries rushed to secure reserves ahead of the winter months.
This was felt personally - both in alarming news alerts about planned power outages and directly in the pockets of people and businesses as energy prices soared.
The Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) was developed to give the grid operator more flexibility on how energy is delivered, shifting it to periods of lower demand.
For people across the country, this meant turning off electrical appliances during a series of “Flex Events”, 1-2 hour time slots within any given day where energy demand was too high.
By avoiding those hours, pressure on the grid was eased.
This was especially true on cold, dark and still days where there was the unfortunate combination of high energy demand and low renewable energy generation.
In these situations, the system would kick into action to prevent burning through fuel supplies to produce electricity.
ev.energy joined the programme from its launch in November, enabling electric vehicle drivers with the ev.energy app to play their part through our Take Charge programme.
In return for taking part, we rewarded drivers with a £5 reward for every 15 eligible charges, plus entry into our £1,000 monthly prize draw.
Best of all, our app automated the entire process - enabling drivers to support the grid without any changes to their habits or inconvenience to their driving.
Launching the scheme required a herculean effort from the team at ev.energy - including these four women who took on a leading role to bring the programme to life.
Meet the team behind the Demand Flexibility Service project at ev.energy.
Working as a Tech Lead across both the Business Product and Grid & Data Services teams, my work focuses on creating solutions that automatically and reliably charge EVs at the best possible time for the customer, but also for the grid and the planet.
Working on the National Grid Demand Flexibility Service has been perfectly aligned with this mission. I’ve been the Lead Engineer on the project and worked to ensure we could collect data from our customer's smart meters in a way that is secure and transparent for them.
This involved creating a system which allowed customers to connect their smart meter to the ev.energy with ease through a simple form on our website. A lot of complex processes took place in the background, but we worked hard to ensure technical hurdles were removed, allowing even more drivers to take part.
As Product Marketing Manager, my passion and day-to-day role mostly focuses on delivering communication campaigns and initiatives that improve the core user experience for our drivers within the ev.energy app.
In this project, I was responsible for driving sign-ups to the programme and sending all project updates to drivers, including the Flex Event notifications. We asked drivers to turn down any non-essential appliances and automatically paused their EV charging to support the grid in a number of different ways.
Launching the Demand Flexibility Service was a humongous cross-team effort, but making sure our customer experience aligned with the ‘cheaper, greener, simpler’ philosophy of our app was always front of mind. We worked hard to coordinate team members across different disciplines at ev.energy, including Engineering, Grid & Data Services, Customer Success and Marketing to deliver the most engaging service.
As a Project Manager on our Grid & Data Services team, I manage innovation projects at ev.energy.
One recent example is our research into bi-directional EV charging, which could mean that EVs provide more power to the grid at peak times than they take out by 2040, under the right circumstances.
Participation in the Demand Flexibility Service required ev.energy to have a rigorous reporting process in place so that National Grid ESO can see the flexibility that we’re providing.
Setting this up was one of my key responsibilities which ensured the programme could go ahead. I was also involved in picking up the alerts from National Grid ESO and getting the team ready to launch a Flex Event.
After graduating with a degree in engineering last summer, I joined our Grid & Data Services team as a Software Engineer. My role involves helping deliver grid service programs and working on innovation projects.
The DFS program started shortly after I joined the company. My role has been to make sure that the correct signals are sent to the vehicles involved. The signals would shift their charging away from periods of high grid demand, and turn it back on afterwards to ensure they had a complete charge.
I have a background in social and political sciences and earlier in my career I worked on the third sector, helping vulnerable women and children. This was an experience that cemented my passion for helping people and driving positive change.
I joined the Customer Success team at ev.energy in November 2020 and currently oversee our partnerships with EV charger manufactuers. I love getting involved in various exciting projects across the organization which is why I took the lead on the customer success operations for the DFS programme.
My main focus was to ensure that our customer operations ran smoothly and efficiently and that our Customer Success team received the training and had the resources necessary to provide the best possible service to our drivers for the duration of the DFS programme.
As our relationship with energy continues to change, the learnings from this programme can be applied to our work around the world - supporting energy grids through cold winters and hot summers, when demand peaks.
At ev.energy, we are committed to building a clean energy future, and we believe that fairness and equity should be right at the heart of that.