The Virtual Powerplant: Q&A With Equiwatt’s Geoff Phillips

Apps tied to electric vehicles fall into similar, if not identical archetypes eventually. You’ll know this first hand if you’ve spent enough time on the app store as an EV owner.

However, one app, currently in development, is looking to make some significant changes in terms of how you charge your EV at home — or power any other smart appliance for that matter.

The purpose?

To create an experience that rewards householders for reducing carbon emissions, saving peak time energy, and establishing what they call “the world’s largest virtual power plant.”

Meet Equiwatt, the people’s smart charging app.

We recently spoke with Equiwatt CMO Geoff Phillips to learn more.

Could you explain how the app works for those not in the know?

The Equiwatt app was launched a couple of years ago to help household consumers save peak time energy by automatically turning off high energy-consuming appliances and devices within the household.

This includes white goods like fridges and freezers, as well as heating/cooling appliances like water pumps.

But the thing that consumes one of the largest amounts of energy and is growing rapidly in adoption, is the EV.

Equiwatt are now developing a service that will include EVs so that consumers can benefit from both automated smart charging as well as the rewards we offer for saving peak time energy.

How important is an app like this as more EVs hit UK roads?

It is hugely important. As we build towards EV’s being mass market, people are going to increasingly turn to technology to make sure that they are efficiently charging their vehicles. That they’re charging them on an environmentally friendly basis, and that they’ve got a really personalised way of managing their needs to fit with their driving patterns.

Smart technology can help hugely with meeting the needs of our incredibly cost and environmentally conscious lifestyles.

From an Equiwatt point of view, if you can combine your EV charging with your efforts to decrease your carbon footprint across the rest of your household and manage that better with low-cost smart tech, then that’s a win for everyone.

Have you received support from energy providers or any other interested parties?

We have been actively supported by a number of initiatives including accelerators that support both climate and energy systems transformation. In particular, the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator based in Edinburgh supported Equiwatt with research and insight into the potential beneficial impact of technology on the environment.

And in the last year, we have been fortunate to be part of the Energy Systems Catapult ‘Energy Launchpad’ programme, which only welcomed six UK technology companies in the energy space onto its platform.

That provided valuable access to energy sector experts who helped with evaluation of our technology, consumer insights, research, and proposition development.

Having received growth investment in July 2021, we are actively developing opportunities with energy suppliers and aggregators as well as public sector partners. 

How does Equiwatt differ from other EV apps out right now?

The app will do most of the things you would expect from any of the good smart charging apps, giving you personalised management of when, where, and how your EV is charged. So that you can make sure that you’ve got a full charge whenever you need it for work, or trips out.

As mentioned earlier, our ambition is to build the world’s largest consumer virtual power plant. This is achieved by delivering the benefits of demand side response to residential households.

By combining EV charging with your efforts to save energy across your household, the impact consumers have collectively is huge without having to jump between different apps.

Could the app launch in other countries if proven successful in the UK?

Yes, absolutely. The UK is one of the more mature markets, but there’s no reason why the app couldn’t be used in other markets, particularly around Europe.

It will go into other markets over time. We have chosen the UK market just because of its maturity and because of the support and ambition that the UK has to reach net zero via the digitisation of our energy systems.

The overall mission of Equiwatt is to make energy affordable and accessible to as many people around the world as possible, and one of the most impactful ways to do that is by better balancing and digitising the energy systems that provide electricity.

When do you hope to have the new EV app ready and out of trial?

We will be trialling it over the next two to three months, and are aiming for mass market availability within the next six months.

For now, we’re looking for at least twenty-five to thirty people to take part in the initial trials. However, we are currently welcoming registration details from as many people as are interested as we will gradually roll out the app to more users during the later stages of the trial.

We are developing an experience that suits what consumers actually need, hence getting direct input from EV drivers now. This is a great chance for your readers to contribute to the development of something that works with their lifestyles to make a difference to both the environment and their pocket.

You can take part in Equiwatt’s current trial by registering over at this page. It goes without saying, but you will need an EV to participate and be a resident of the UK.

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