Post Interview Crowd balancing November 30, 2021

Mathieu Bonnet – CEO of Allego

Charge Point Operator (CPO) Allego offers smart charging solutions for electric cars, motors and trucks, for consumers, businesses and cities. Founded in 2013, it is now one of the leading EV network and EV charging solutions providers across Europe.

What is the ambition for Allego, and your industry, in relation to energy transition?

E-mobility is of course a very important component in the energy transition. Decarbonised transport and travel would greatly increase the air quality of our cities and reduce noise pollution in addition to its zero CO2 emission. To accelerate the transition towards sustainable mobility, we believe anyone with an EV should be able to charge it, whenever and wherever they need. That’s why we, our partners and our industry are working towards providing simple, reliable and affordable charging solutions. We deliver “the new fuel” / power to cars and this is one of the ways to make the energy transition happen – both by helping our customers avoid or limit CO2 emissions and by supplying the power they need where and when they need it.

What role do consumer-owned devices play in the future electricity landscape?

We never had EVs in the old power landscape and now we do, so EV drivers can play a significant role in the new power world. That’s because an EV can store energy, in the form of electricity in the car’s battery. And electricity storage will become very important in an energy system without fossil fuels, as it can be used to balance the grid against unpredictable sources of renewables. But storage will only work if we do it intelligently. We need proper communication between all the different components. We need to have a grid that can withstand this communication, and we need to have a platform that can facilitate the exchange of this communication and information – which is where Equigy comes in.

How do you prepare your organisation for the required change?

We deliver the capability for the drivers to charge, so we’re in the middle of this power exchange. Our role is to ensure we provide just the right amount of energy at the right price with the right conditions, taking into account all the constraints that exist.
To this end, it’s important to get the right information from the different stakeholders in the power system – grid operators, powers suppliers, and so on – to make sure we can deliver energy in the most efficient and smartest way. By doing this, we can help to lower global costs for all stakeholders, and especially EV drivers. If we want e-mobility to play its part effectively, we need to have an efficient and economically viable solution.
That’s one of the reasons why we have developed our own balancing perimeter to ensure we can receive and deliver renewably-sourced supply to our chargers.
One efficient approach is to connect charging stations to local green energy sources. Allego’s aim is to ensure that every kWh supplied by the charging stations is renewable. On public charging stations located in the streets of municipalities, Allego makes sure that at least 20% of the energy supplied to the charging stations is generated by local green energy sources. This happens through a collaboration with green energy companies and the municipalities themselves.

How do you engage consumers in this change?

It’s about gaining EV drivers’ trust and to make their driving experience easier or better.
If you need to be an electrician to run your car, then forget it. Our goal is to make life as simple and convenient as possible for EV owners. The EV market is in its early stages in this regard, and participants in the market must design it properly from the outset to ensure its future success.
If we start by explaining to our customers that EVs are convenient, but there are many constraints, they will focus on the constraints. If consumers see it as too challenging to move from petrol or diesel to EV cars, it’s up to us to manage and remove constraints and make the process of owning and charging an EV simple. EV cars and its charging must be a superior package than the fuel cars and not an inferior offer.

What are the biggest challenges in relation to sector coupling?

Sector coupling is like a value chain. It needs all the different parts to work well together.
In this context, I see two main challenges: technology and business.
In terms of technology, the ability of all EV drivers to access, charge and pay at any public charge point is dependent upon smooth communication between the distribution grid, charging hardware and vehicles. During the charging process, EVs and chargers communicate by means of standard protocols, which ensure both sides speak the same language. On paper, every EV can ‘talk’ to every charger. But this isn’t always the case in the real world.
For example, there are often differences in interpretation. A charger will consider the protocol non-standard in such situations, and that almost always leads to a malfunction. Often the problem can be solved remotely, but sometimes it can’t. And that’s very annoying for someone who arrives at a charging point with an empty battery.
This is why Allego always promotes open protocols, which means our network is open and compatible with all EVs, and supports different makes and models, each with its own hardware and software. Standardisation like this really is the key, which is why we are actively advocating for interoperability via government and influencing bodies as ChargeUp Europe our industry association.
Then there’s the business component. Because we are many different stakeholders working together, we must be sure that each stakeholder can create a viable business from what they’re doing. So, we must be in continuous discussions to this effect. This is important as we each have a role to play in this chain. As the market grows and evolves, I’m pretty sure that we’ll succeeded in getting this right. We need everyone to succeed to make the energy transition happen.

What is the biggest change we will have accomplished by 2035?

By then, many components of the grid, consumers, suppliers, will be connected in some way or other. There’ll be more data and information being exchanged. Given the numbers of EVs expected on Europe’s roads by then – by 2025 it is expected that 10% of global passenger vehicle sales will be EVs, growing to 28% in 2030 and 58% in 2040 – we’ll need to be ready to cope with the demand. We’ll need communication and organisation to make it happen. And if we play it smartly, we can have the best interconnected grid in the world and reinforce our leadership in EV business. Europe understands that interconnection is key, not only with the energy supply but also with consumers.

What does the energy transition mean to you?

We’re at a great time in history, and at an exciting time in this sector. The growing numbers of transactions in our sector will not only deliver more energy, but new innovations, projects, concepts of business, ways to share and grow. So, it’s not just about energy, it’s more profound than that. For this reason, we are in a very dramatic and fascinating period. We can make things happen so let’s just do it.

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