Statkraft has for many years been an active owner of the Norwegian charging station company Grønn Kontakt (Green Contact).
Electrification: Statkraft expands its focus on electric car charging
Statkraft has been in the electric car charging market since 2012 as owner in the charging station company Grønn Kontakt. Statkraft now wants to expand its investment significantly in Northern Europe. Why would a company that historically only produced hydropower, build and operate electric car charging stations?
Vidar Eide is CCO in Mer, the eMobility company owned by Statkraft.
Electrification of the transport sector will fundamentally change the electricity market, maintains Vidar Eide, head of the eMobility unit in Statkraft's Wind and Solar Europe business area.
"The need for electricity will increase, and that power should come from renewable sources if the growth is to be sustainable. Statkraft is Europe's largest supplier of renewable electricity, and we aim to increase production and be an active contributor to the electrification of society."
"With our starting point as an active owner in Grønn Kontakt for many years, electric car charging is an interesting business area for international growth, where we can leverage expertise and learning from Norway, the most mature electric car market in Europe," says Eide.
Flexibility an advantage
Electrification of the car fleet – and other sectors – will require more predictability in the production of renewable energy and smart solutions for managing consumption, not least electric car charging. Eide believes Statkraft has several advantages in this market.
"First, we are a credible supplier of green power. All the electricity we supply to the market comes from renewable sources such as hydropower, solar or wind power," he says.
"In addition, we have considerable experience in managing and controlling renewable energy production, both from hydropower production in Norway and from virtual power plants. The one we have in Germany manages thousands of wind turbines on behalf of their owners. At the same time, Statkraft is one of Europe's largest power traders. This provides the know-how and systems for managing electric car charging and other types of power consumption."
Smart charging needed
"Overall, this provides us with a very good basis for optimising electric car charging with regard to power prices and grid capacity, which is a prerequisite for electrification of the car fleet," says Eide.
"Today, peaks in electricity consumption occur in the morning before people go to work and school and in the afternoon when they come home. We have enough power, but the power grid does not have sufficient capacity if everyone charges their electric cars while running the washing machine and making dinner. In today's market, where electric cars make up a small proportion, this is normally not a big problem, but if the transport sector is to become 100 per cent electrified, we need better solutions."
Today, charging stations draw electricity directly from the grid when in use, but in the future more sophisticated solutions are needed. "Smart" charging means that computers steer the charging to the most favourable times of the day. This avoids consumption peaks and network overload.
Initially, Statkraft will continue to build charging stations where people travel, often in connection with grocery stores or shopping malls, but also at workplaces and in larger housing cooperatives and condominium developments. Eventually the company will probably also offer chargers to homeowners.
"Today there are too many people charging directly from the outlet at home. This is neither safe nor particularly smart," says Eide.
"If the car fleet is to be electrified, we must make it attractive for people to have access to sound and smart chargers at home, at work, maybe at the cabin, alongside roads and at shops."