Evergreen Smart Power: Trialling electric vehicle flexibility in 250 homes

Evergreen Smart Power has developed a virtual power plant technology to help consumers benefit from their electric vehicles providing the flexibility to balance a decarbonised grid.

Energy Systems Catapult initially supported Evergreen with through our Energy Launchpad. Focusing on Consumer Insight around domestic energy services, scoping the competitor landscape and assessing partnering opportunities.

We then partnered with Evergreen, myenergi, and Swansea University in applying to the UK Government Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery (FRED) programme, where £9.78 million of funding was committed to supporting a range of  innovative domestic Demand Side Response (DSR) demonstration projects.

The Challenge

A more flexible energy system will help the UK to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 at a lower cost.

Traditionally, electricity system flexibility was delivered on the ‘supply-side’ of the energy meter, by power stations changing how much energy they generated to ensure supply always matched demand.

But with the increasing demand for clean but intermittent renewable energy from the wind and sun, continuing to rely on supply-side solutions alone would require massive amounts of new generation, grid-scale energy storage and increasing the capacity of the grid to distribute more electricity at times of peak demand – which would be prohibitively expensive.

New ways of delivering flexibility are emerging. Demand-side response (DSR) uses digital platforms and smart controls to shift consumer demand away from times of peak energy consumption or to take advantage of times of excess renewable generation by working with smart technologies such energy storage, heat pumps and electric vehicles.

This flexibility allows energy to be used or stored when clean electricity supply is high and used later when supply is low – improving grid resilience and avoiding the cost increasing capacity, maximising the use of renewable energy and reducing consumers cost and carbon emissions.

The Innovation

Manchester-based Evergreen Smart Power are an innovative Virtual Power Plant (VPP) business, aggregating and controlling domestic energy loads resulting from the decarbonisation of transport and heating to suit specific customer, market, generation and grid conditions.

Evergreen’s solution for electric vehicles (EVs) can respond to grid conditions, to spread charging over off-peak hours, reducing the 7kW load of chargers that would otherwise put strain on the network at peak times, while ensuring that EVs are sufficiently charged when needed. The VPP integrates with smart technologies, such as electric vehicle charging, heat pumps, batteries or smart hot water tanks to optimises and manage electricity demand in real time based on price signals from the electricity grid.

Evergreen’s Smart Power solution enables:

  1. Consumers to gain maximum benefit from energy generation, storage and consumption;
  2. Access the flexibility around domestic loads to address the challenges faced by the industry for the mutual benefit of energy stakeholders, domestic users and society.

However, VPPs are complex, cutting across systems integration, energy trading and consumer engagement models, as well as the need to work with District Network Operators and EV manufacturers. So to overcome resource limitations and explore wider opportunities in the market, Evergreen needed additional expertise.

Our Solution

Energy Systems Catapult initially supported Evergreen with tailored incubation and acceleration support to help address barriers to growth, de-risk innovation, scale-up the business and secure investment.

Energy Launchpad supported Evergreen with:

  • Competitor Landscaping to identify their key strengths and potential blind spots. HElping Evergreen refine their target market and strategy (which informed their next work package: Business Modelling).
  • Business Model Innovation we then explored Evergreen’s Value Proposition to help develop a business model, alternative target markets and revenue streams. Outputs were developed to be used for future investment pitches and funding applications.


The FRED Trial

Energy Systems Catapult next partnered with Evergreen, myenergi, and Swansea University on the Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery (FRED) programme to test innovative domestic Demand Side Response (DSR).

The FRED trial tested Evergreen’s digital platform with 250 households to validate the value of demand-side response by controlling when electric vehicles are charged or water is heated. Aggregating many households together could create a “virtual power plant” that provides a flexibility service to the electricity network company, potentially rewarding consumers with reduced energy costs.

Energy Systems Catapult gathered insights about consumers’ expectations, understanding and experiences of this flexible approach to energy consumption.

The Evergreen platform works with myenergi’s zappi, a smart EV charger that can also use power from the electricity grid or from household solar panels (if consumers have them) to charge their electric vehicle.

zappi allows consumers to control how their car is charged. For example, by scheduling the vehicle to begin charging at a certain time of day or night, by specifying the number of kWh they want delivered to the car or the level of charge they want in the battery.

Energy Systems Catapult supported the FRED project with:

  • Consumer Insight – simplifying the proposition to ensure consumers can understand DSR during focus groups
  • Home Truths consumer panel – testing the appeal of various propositions with households
  • Improving the design – using blogs, calls and surveys to monitor the experience of trialists
  • Estimating market size – using a national survey to estimate mass market appeal.
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Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Trial in 250 homes with Evergreen and Energy Systems Catapult

The Fred Trial Outputs


Living with managed charging for a year

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Smart talking: Overcoming barriers to Demand Side Response

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Demand Side Response: Putting consumers in the driving seat

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Demand Side Response: What goes on behind the wheel?

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The Impact

Evergreen Smart Power Co-Founder Andy McKay said: “This has been a high level exercise that’s allowed us to: break down the key areas of focus, identify new product and revenue streams. In the short term this means that we now know the three minimum viable products and services that we want to offer.

“Prior to this piece of work we had one main product. In effect this has identified two new product variants that address innovative opportunities and other areas that will move quicker than our long term market. This will translate into 3 separate platforms requiring separate teams (one or more that could be outsourced).”

As a result of their work with the Energy Launchpad, Evergreen has said they are more likely to spend more money on R&D in the future.

McKay said: “The Energy Launchpad activity has been used to provide rigour and external review for the short, medium and long term focus. It’s allowed us to ensure that other industry experts have validated our focus and helped crystallised the market opportunities that we’re seeking external funding for. It’s been a very useful exercise that’s clarified what we want to do and when. It’s also produced material that we’ll use to support (efforts to) raise funding.

“Energy Launchpad has allowed us to tap into a wide range of energy sector industry expertise with a support package tailored to our specific needs. It’s an opportunity every energy start-up would benefit from.”

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