Over the last year, the UK has faced an energy crisis. The crisis, not helped by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent squeeze on gas supplies into Europe, has been a key factor in the cost of living crisis.

As wholesale prices of gas increase, the amount energy providers pay for their gas rises and consequently, that cost is passed onto the consumer. This short supply of gas combined with cold winter temperatures led to Britain’s power grid being under significant pressure with fears of power outages documented in the media.

In order to alleviate the real possiblity of power outages , the National Grid ESO created the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) – an initiative aimed to encourage all companies that manage electricity to help flex when they draw power from the grid – with the intention to limit peak energy demand as much as possible.

Five women at leading electric vehicle smart charging software specialist ev.energy were key in the implementation of the DFS scheme. ev.energy joined the programme from its launch in November, enabling electric vehicle drivers with the ev.energy app to play their part through their Take Charge programme.

We recently interviewed them to discuss their roles in the scheme and why they chose to get involved.

Zara Harper – Product Marketing Manager in the Growth Team at ev.energy

What is your role at ev.energy?

As Product Marketing Manager, my passion and day-to-day role focuses on delivering communication campaigns and initiatives that improve the core user experience for our drivers within the ev.energy app.

Why did you get involved in the DFS Scheme?

I am particularly passionate about the clean tech space and working for companies working towards a greener future. When I saw the pressure on the grid, I jumped at the opportunity to ensure that clean, green technology was available to our drivers and to make sure it could be used to make the grid more flexible.

What was your role in the DFS scheme?

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. It was important to bring drivers along on the journey with us and build a programme and offer that they can get excited about.

As part of the scheme, 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 the ev.energy app was a priority.

Rachel Jessup Project Manager for the Grid and Data Services Team at ev.energy

What is your role at ev.energy?

As project manager for the Grid & Data Services Team, I manage the Innovation Projects we receive funding for, helping to push the industry forward and develop cool new technology around EV charging. These projects look at everything from bi-directional charging, to how we can work with networks to notify EV drivers of power cuts in their area. I also support my team with data analysis, delivering on commercial data contracts and providing visibility on the Grid Services we participate in (i.e. by measuring the positive impact we are having on shifting load away from peak times).

Why did you get involved in the DFS Scheme?

I am always interested in innovative projects and therefore the DFS scheme was of clear interest to me.  It is great to work for an employer who is proud to collaborate and champion schemes such as DFS and the upcoming Earth Hour.

What was your role in the DFS scheme?

For DFS, the National Grid ESO had strict safety and energy accuracy requirements for partners. I used my organisational and data analysis skills to quickly set up end-to-end processes that met the rigorous reporting requirements of the programme. I have also supported our Growth team in providing summary figures about how we are helping National Grid reduce strain on the grid.

Giulia Escher Technology Lead at ev.energy

What is your role at ev.energy?

At ev.energy, I am the Tech Lead for the B2B and Grid & Data Services teams. As part of the Grid Services team, I’ve been working on creating solutions that automatically and reliably charge our EVs at the best possible time for the customer, but also for the grid and the planet.

Why did you get involved in the DFS Scheme?

Before joining ev.energy, I was Software Lead at Powervault, a tech start-up manufacturing and distributing home batteries in the UK. There, I led the development of battery smart charging, Firm Frequency Response and Demand Side Response into the batteries’ firmware and system backend, to provide distributed grid services at national and local scale. My experiences with grid services meant the DFS scheme was right up my street and I was eager to help out.

What was your role in the DFS scheme?

Working on the National Grid Demand Flexibility Service has been perfectly aligned with my mission to create solutions to help the grid and the planet. I have 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 our customers.

Alice Kish Software Engineer at ev.energy

What is your role at ev.energy?

I work as a software Engineer in the Grid & Data Services team at ev.energy. My work involves helping deliver our grid services programmes and working on our grant projects which allow us to explore new technology opportunities with electric vehicle charging and flexibility.

Why did you get involved in the DFS Scheme?

The DFS programme started shortly after I joined the company, so it was a great learning experience for me. I helped implement the programme, and assisted in the development required to ingest and process smart meter data from our participating users.

What was your role in the DFS scheme?

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 also worked alongside our Customer Success team to help troubleshoot any problems.

Jess Santos Customer success team at ev.energy

What is your role at ev.energy?

I joined the Customer Success team at ev.energy in November 2020 and support our key charger partners and their customers.

Why did you get involved in the DFS Scheme?

I have a passion for helping people and driving positive change. I love getting involved in various exciting projects across the organisation which is why I took the lead on the CS operations for the DFS programme.

What was your role in the DFS scheme?

My main focus was to ensure that our customer operations run 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.

Without the innovative DFS scheme and those behind the scenes making sure it was a success, the UK would have likely faced the first planned power cuts in decades. It is essential going forward that we have a smarter, more flexible grid. An idea reiterated by OFGEM, who in recent weeks have set out proposals to establish a greener, more dynamic energy system. Through collaborative schemes such as DFS the UK can build a clean energy future.

 

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