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Nick Woolley

CEO & Co-Founder

ev.energy

February 1, 2022
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Ep 59: Nick Woolley - CEO & Co-Founder, ev.energy
00:00 / 01:04

Michael Crabb
Welcome to another episode of the Energy Impact podcast. My guest today is Nick Woolley, CEO and Co-Founder of ev.energy. Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick Woolley
Great to be here, Michael. Thank you very much for having me.

Michael Crabb
From across the pond, always fun to chat internationally. Before we get into the very interesting work you're doing now, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?

Nick Woolley
I'm originally from the UK, as you can probably tell by my accent. I grew up in the north of England in a little place in the in the Peak District, a very idyllic place.

Michael Crabb
What's the Peak, for us Americans?

Nick Woolley
Oh, of course, of course. Apologies. The Peak District is a region of the UK that's kind of in the middle of the UK. It's a beautiful region. It's got rolling hills. It's quintessentially England, I guess. It's a green and pleasant place to live.

Michael Crabb
Okay, so the environment was in your in your blood at an early age?

Nick Woolley
Well, yeah, I think so. I mean, I've always loved the outdoors. I am a very outdoors focused person. I would say that I'm now living in London - I'm actually just south of London - and what's very important for me is the ability to be able to get out on the weekend, get out cycling, and get out in the environment. Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Crabb
Sure. Okay, so you grew up, beautiful countryside. What were your interests? What drove you into energy? Or was it more general focus? What was your path to where you are today?

Nick Woolley
I've had- there are basically two tracks that I've been on in my career. I started my career actually in tech. So right at the start of my career, in the noughties, I helped people build technology to help people to trade online. And then, beyond, but then I really, as an engineer - I originally trained as an engineer - and as an engineer, I was always really, really focused in solving problems. And the biggest problem we face now as humanity is climate change. So I transitioned into the energy sector and I've been working in the energy sector for the last 13 years. I started as an academic, originally building algorithms to help the power grid understand where it was going to be congested, where faults were going to occur. And then more recently, working as a consultant and also for big power companies like National Grid. Now, I'm the CEO and Co-Founder of a company called ev.energy that manages electric vehicle charging.

Michael Crabb
Cool, yeah, we'll definitely get into ev.energy, but there's a lot to unpack, I think, in that pretty diverse background. So you were tech, you were solving problems. At what point did you say energy or the environment or climate change was sort of this big problem? Because it wasn't accepted as this big problem broadly until we could argue how recently, but there was a point where you must have said, Hey, this is where I want to solve one of humanity's biggest problems.

Nick Woolley
I mean, I think right around the time of my PhD was the time when I got motivated to get involved in the energy sector. I think there are two things that are going on in the energy sector. One of them is the massive problem of climate change. We need to just decarbonize absolutely everything. We need to decarbonize the generation system. We need to decarbonize transport. We need to decarbonize. It's a massive problem that we're facing and super exciting from an engineering perspective to solve. The other thing that's super exciting, I think, and what makes this sector so exciting to work in is the fact that there's virtually no technology existing- well, not no technology, but there's limited technology existing within the energy system itself to be able to respond to manage against these problems. What really excited me was around 2010 was this idea that was first coined of "smart grid" as like the thing that would be- you know, the internet happened and it kind of passed the energy sector by. Nothing had really happened to the energy sector. Power goes in one end comes out the other. It's pretty reliable. And now the internet was sort of butting against the power grid. And that created all these exciting and wonderful opportunities around like, Well, how could we integrate more renewables? How can we aggregate and manage distributed energy resources on the grid? How can we get- unlock the power of electric vehicles to help manage the flow of electrons to help us decarbonize faster? And all of these exciting opportunities have suddenly been opened up over the last, I think 10 years or so. And that's what really got me excited and involved in the sector.

Michael Crabb
And so your step was sort of, you said, you described it as an academic, but you were really digging into understanding the complexity of this. Maybe give us, if you could, if I could ask you to give our audience a the 60-second primer. I think a lot of people think about it like a water pipeline: energy in and energy pops out. But it's vastly more complex than that. I'd be very curious as someone deep into this world, how do you describe that to a friend at a dinner party? Or do you have-

Nick Woolley
Well, I think- it's interesting you say most people think of it as a pipe where energy goes in and energy goes out one end. Actually, I mean, I suppose maybe on a superficial level lots of people think about that. But then they also think it's electricity networks. It must be connected. We must know what's going on in real time in those networks, right? Surely, we should know all of those things. And what I learned, actually, right back when I was doing my research was actually we don't know a lot of that stuff. We really do rely on the fact that energy goes in one end. On the other end of the pipe, there's some demand that's very predictable and just follows the same pattern day in day out. And that means that it's really, really straightforward for us to just put energy in from a generation perspective and have it flow out linearly through a system and we don't really have to worry about what that system is doing.

Michael Crabb
Is it truly that simple? I mean, I would say like the grid managers would argue with that, right? I mean, there's a lot of weather and demand fluctuation within some band. No?

Nick Woolley
Yeah, for sure. And there are also tools that they've had. But if you look and say, I mean, look at the national grid in the UK. The tools that they had at their disposal in the past were like pumped storage devices that were big assets that you could switch on. And the classic example is always like the football match when England reach- I mean, we reached the final the other- last year, which was pretty awesome.

Michael Crabb
We don't have to talk too much about the results.

Nick Woolley
Yeah, certainly the result was the wrong thing. But that's the classic thing of, well, when everybody puts their kettle on at halftime, we know that that demands coming and then you have to put- you have to inject some power into the system and you can rely on these big assets to support the system. Absolutely, there's- I'm not belittling all of the intelligence and expertise that goes into managing the electricity system. But what's changing is we're moving from the electricity system where there are lots of those big assets that we can control and manage and have at the tip of our fingers on a button into this distributed energy system where on the one hand- on the one side, we've got lots of intermittent renewables that are just generating whenever there's weather available, which we can sort of predict. And then on the other side, we've got demand, like electric vehicles, heat pumps, and all these things that are piling on that are slightly more complex and difficult to predict, which makes this system now, I think, a lot more complex and requires a lot of engineering expertise to help solve some of those really interesting and challenging problems.

Michael Crabb
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And obviously, you're doing a lot to sort of bridge those two worlds. But before we get into those details, talk to us about the evolution of your career as you started to explore these solutions. Because I think, Boston Consulting Group, National Grid, those are- I'm sure you saw a lot and really started to peel back the problem and identify this solution that you're working on now. Tell us a bit about that.

Nick Woolley
Absolutely. So I did a stint in consulting. I then transitioned into a role at National Grid. I was working at National Grid, which is a UK- they operate the system in the UK, the whole of the electricity system in the UK. They also own some assets out in the northeast of the US as well. They operate distribution networks, gas networks there as well. I never did the deep engineering, but I was working in their group strategy team. And one of the things I got exposed to - I had the privilege to get exposed to - was a lot of the thinking around distributed energy resources. I managed to get myself on a project- National Grid had a project that was a strategic partnership between National Grid and Sunrun, the biggest residential solar distributor in the US. What they were trying to do was they were trying to integrate battery storage assets alongside solar assets to provide services back to the energy grid. From a National Grid perspective, I was there talking about the benefits that residential storage could help unlock within the energy system. I was out in California several times, me and the team of Sunrun. It was a really cool experience, never been to California before until that point in my life. And when I was over there five or six years ago, I think what they've done is absolutely amazing. I mean, it's creating a virtual power plant of battery storage assets. But I was over there and I was looking at the road and I was driving up and down California and then you just look at all of these EVs that are everywhere in California. They're just like- and you realize that California is obviously miles ahead of the rest of the world. And Tesla has gone through this near death experience, but it's come out the other side and it's really growing now. Electric vehicles are going to be everywhere, literally everywhere. And with this tech background that I had, I also thought, well hang on, all of these electric vehicles have telematics inside them, don't they? They're all connected to the internet, so they're like little iPhones driving round. From a grid perspective, that's pretty cool, because maybe if I could use those devices, I could tap into those devices and create this virtual power plant. I wouldn't actually have to- the advantage versus say the Sunrun model was you wouldn't actually have to pay to use those assets. You could allow the user to buy an electric vehicle, because they naturally will, because everyone will buy electric vehicle, because it's a better experience than owning an internal combustion engine vehicle. But then you can aggregate these assets together to provide a service for the energy system. That was the kind of lightbulb moment, if you like, for us thinking about distributed energy resources and whether or not electric vehicles could be a real solution to help us manage the electricity grid, the integration of renewables, and deliver a really simple decarbonized transportation experience for people like you and me.

Michael Crabb
Sure, sure. A really cool vision. Help me sort of- how predictable is that? You describe everyone puts their tea kettle on at halftime. You sort of have the overnight charging, right, but how- I guess across a broad population, how predictable is sort of that daily- like if I plugged in my electric vehicle and you said, Okay, we're gonna use that to power your neighbor, but then I said, Well, I gotta run to the store and it's empty, how do you sort of manage that risk?

Nick Woolley
That's a super, super question. The reason- so how predict- let me take how predictable is that. The reason that demand is very predictable is because, as humans, we are very predictable. We like to have our dinner at the same time and therefore we like to have- put the oven on at the same time and therefore there is this spike in demand. And with electric vehicles, what we see on our platform is people are very predictable in terms of they come home and they plug in their electric vehicle. The peak is at 6pm in the evening, as you'd expect, because that's when the majority of people come home and plug in their electric vehicle. They typically plug in their electric vehicle for about 12 to 14 hours. That is the most common length of time that they plug in their vehicles. Overnight, like you say, is a very big opportunity in the home space for electric vehicles. The thing that's also very predictable is the amount of charging that a customer needs. The amount of charging a customer needs is often about one to three hours worth of charging. Typically, it's not really- sometimes it's more than three hours, but the majority of charging is under three hours. So what you have is you have this opportunity to an asset that's plugging in pretty reliably for about 14 hours and you've got three hours worth of charging that you need to fit in at some point in time. With something like vehicle-to-grid, you can discharge the energy back into the energy system and then pull it out, but you need to find those three hours at a certain point in time. And so the predictability you have is, I need to- the question becomes instead of like, I know that those three hours are going to happen at 6pm until 9pm every single evening, it's how can I find three hours between that- over that 14 hour period so that it's the best times for the energy system, the greenest times of the energy system, at the lowest cost times for that driver?

Michael Crabb
Are there opportunities on the business? You sort of talked about the residential. Is their business opportunity? I mean, I guess I don't drive now, but you drive to the office at nine and plug in and leave at five? Or is that maybe iteration two or three?

Nick Woolley
I think there are, yes, absolutely. I think we also- where we have workplace charging available, we will plug in at work and we often do. I mean, we did a report and we analyze some of this data with Bloomberg just recently. We looked at all of our charging - like a million charging sessions across - and what we found was around 80 to 90% of that charging actually happens at home. The reason it happens at home is it's incredibly convenient for the end driver to just come home and plug in every single day. And that even happens where you have Tesla owners who have access to free supercharging. It still exists in some Tesla owners' cases. Maybe they'll do like 70% at home, but the majority is at home, because it is so convenient to charge an electric vehicle. It takes you like 10 seconds to plug in your electric vehicle. That's the real length of time it takes you to recharge your electric vehicle, not the three hours that you have to worry about, because that's taken care of by somebody else.

Michael Crabb
That makes sense. Okay, so sort of identify the structure here. Talk to us about the business model. How do you bring these different parties- you have sort of this distributed- we'll call it a distributed battery network. You have the distribution managers. How do you- what's the business model? Who pays for what and how do you differentiate your product?

Nick Woolley
Our business model is B2B2C. One of the things with our role in the ecosystem, we have to form partnerships with a lot of different players. We are a software only solution. Ev.energy is a software only solution. We work first and foremost alongside the driver to deliver a charging service to the driver. And then we back into the ecosystem of energy utilities, car OEMs, charging manufacturers to deliver our service. So talking about-

Michael Crabb
Doesn't the car manufacturer- I guess those business models are evolving very rapidly. You buy the electric vehicle, I think a lot of times that supplier will provide a battery. But are you sort of- do you replace the default technology there? Or are you sort of pre-pack- are you like Apple link or something? You're pre-packaged with that battery storage through the OEM? Maybe both?

Nick Woolley
Maybe both. We work alongside OEMs, so for example we're working with Volkswagen in Germany. We've been working with them in partnership and we've just launched a proposition that goes out to all of the Volkswagen drivers in Germany that enables them to do smart charging, connect on a regular basis, and shift their electric vehicle charging pattern to align with the availability of renewable energy on the German energy grid. This is super cool and super exciting, because what we're doing is we're helping a big automotive manufacturer to optimize the charging experience and then reduce carbon emissions for their end customers on a regular basis. And our software sits between there and the vehicles and integrates with the vehicles. On the other side, it integrates with their energy company that they're building to deliver an integrated service to customers like you or I that enable us to get money back on our energy bill, just by optimizing our charging to align with the availability of renewables in the German energy grid.

Michael Crabb
Really interesting. Talk about the energy company response. My history is a little bit colored. Here in the US, we had this whole feed-in tariff and each state is a little bit unique and then each utility a little bit unique. But that's purely solar. How do you give a discount for the variable component, but continue to charge for the fixed component of the bill? Talk to us about how that- I suspect that's changed a little bit as energy vehicles have become more prominent and climate change has become more prominent. But is there pushback on- you're sort of making the demand less reliable or less consistent and maybe moving value from the energy company to the consumer. How's that response been- maybe I'm misinterpreting. How's that response been from the energy company?

Nick Woolley
From an energy company perspective, what we're trying to do is we're trying to provide them with a service that allows them to control and manage electric vehicle charging as a fleet of vehicles that are connecting through their energy supplies. For example, in Texas- so Texas is a competitive retail market. From a retailer's perspective, what you want to be able to deliver is when you get an electric vehicle customer- you know a few things about our electric vehicle customer. As we've talked about, they're actually quite predictable in terms of how they'll charge. So if you don't offer them any incentive to charge at different points in time, they will predictably charge at about 6pm in the evening and that will be coincident with when power prices spike to $9,000 per megawatt-hour if you don't do anything about it. Now, of course, the traditional way that a retailer would manage that is they would hedge against it and they would just buy a hedging project that enabled them to manage against that. The alternative is that you unleash flexibility. And you say, Well, how about this electric vehicle customer that can shift their load dynamic. And it's important that it's dynamic, because it can respond to different things. Using the Texas example again, in the Texas freeze, you can do a number of things. We saw the energy prices rise as a result of the Texas freeze and that caused a lot of problems. You can do a number of things around electric vehicle charging. You can, number one, know that your fleet of electric vehicles need to be pre-warned about the Texas freeze, because you can see the weather forecast that's happening and you can then get them charged and push them to charge and nudge them behaviorally to charge on different days. Then the second thing you can do is you can dynamically charge them at the times when the grid is less stressed, even on the days when the power prices are really high. And you can also come out of the system and provide services back into the system to support the system and make money as a retailer. All of those things can then be wrapped back up and provided back to consumers.

Michael Crabb
So there's the distinction and the right question for me to have asked is- the retailer, ultimately, can push the button or they ultimately have the control to shift this distributed fleet around.


Yes. And I think within- this is a really important point. What we believe is, for the driver- we're really, really focused on the end driver and making the experience for the driver as simple as possible. Because we believe if you don't make it simple for drivers, especially as we move to the mass market, then people won't do these things. It's lovely that I want to do flexibility and integrate renewables and all these things. But drivers are very time poor and they want a service that's simple, straightforward, and they just plug in. That's all they want to do. But then from the energy utilities perspective, they want all the smart tools to be able to control and manage load and flex against their requirements. They want to be able to manage a virtual power plant of electric vehicles and then dispatch those when they want and change the signals in real time to be able to flex demand according to their requirements. But the proposition that they deliver back to the driver, in our opinion, there's a lot of advantage in making that as simple as possible, because that will increase adoption on the driver side and actually grow the volume of people. There are people doing real time, time of use rates and things like that. They are quite complex and they push a lot of time pressure onto end users to understand what's going on in the energy market. There is an interesting - and they have their role and they have their place - but there is an interesting other place where a lot of that is managed by the energy utility. And they simply give their customers back rebates and rewards for doing the right thing day in day out, which is probably just plugging in their electric vehicle. And the solution is very, very simple and straightforward. And as a result, lots of people hopefully buy into it and adopt it.

Michael Crabb
That's interesting. Do you prescribe or work with the energy companies to craft that value prop? Or do you say, Here are some recommendations, go for it.? Because you're in- it strikes me that the person paying you - this might be incorrect - that the energy company really would subscribe to your service, then they would manage that reward program. But you're really incentivized, I think, to make sure that they are aligned with your message of simplicity. How prescriptive are you for them when they're sort of making that pitch to their customer?

Nick Woolley
We're in this very privileged position where, because we're working in the UK, because we're working in Texas, California, Germany, Australia, Japan, working in a lot of areas where there's non-overlapping, non-competitive propositions and we're talking to energy companies that, by the way, face exactly the same problem. There's always a problem for the retailers, a problem for the network. There's a problem for the system operator. There's a problem in the home around how you manage against home generated renewables. All of those problems are common across all of those different types of utilities in different jurisdictions. But what we can do is we can use some of that experience to suggest ideas. Obviously, the retailer or the energy utility is the person that is delivering that service to their customers and we're working in partnership with them to deliver that service. Ultimately, it's their customers, so we need to work with them and customize our proposition in a way that works. But absolutely, we can advise them about what's resonating in the UK market if we're talking to a Texas retailer. And there are no competitive issues there whatsoever with doing that. It's very much a partnership. We're very much working in partnership with the energy utilities to help craft these propositions. But ultimately, it's their- they're accountable for delivering those products and services into the market.

Michael Crabb
And really comes full circle to what you said at the outset which is, they're going to have to deal with this complexity one way or another and they're probably relatively ill-prepared on a technology perspective to do that. You're solving a problem and adding additional business lines, right?

Nick Woolley
Yes. So I think the utilities, there is an acute problem. Yeah, it's going to happen. We are getting clusters of EV load that are congregating on networks that are overloading networks. In the UK, we provide services to UK Power Networks, so one of the distribution networks. I was talking with our Head of Grid Services today and he's just dispatched some electric vehicles. We've just entered the first day of the process and immediately they're calling on our services. These things are happening. They're painful. They're real and they have to deal with them. But hopefully, we can work with them to be part of the solution. The other thing is, you have to also think about the customers that- the customers are changing. The customers are no longer just buying commodity electricity. Customers are buying commodity electricity plus electric vehicle load. And those customers are quite interesting customers, because they have twice the consumption of a typical domestic customer. They also might do charging outside the home, too, and that's quite interesting as well, because maybe you can grab revenues there. These are new customers that actually energy utilities would love to serve and I'd love to get their hands around really.

Michael Crabb
Yeah, it's less commoditized. Still a commodity, but maybe slightly less so and that opens up sort of a whole universe of options that the traditional business models just never contemplated. Really interesting. Okay, well, we could get really nerdy into this, because I love talking about it. But I do want to spend a little bit of time- what can you share about the experience of building a company in this space? I think I saw you're a certified B Corp now. Talk to us a little bit about that, about the fundraising process, the scaling process, I mean, the international process. There's just so much to kind of dig into. I'm not even really sure where to begin, which is a bad way to ask it. But it was new for you, right? I mean, maybe start from the beginning.

Nick Woolley
I think maybe linking a few of those things and then going back, starting from the beginning of like, what are we actually trying to achieve with ev.energy? The mission behind ev.energy, we want to get all of these electric vehicles integrated into the energy grid, because we want to get- what gets me up in the morning is we want to get as many green electrons into those electric vehicles as possible. That links to our B Corp status as well, because we put a big emphasis on balancing profits against the societal rewards that we can deliver through executing our mission. And we think we know already that we save between 10 and 30% on carbon emissions just by smart charging using an ev.energy platform. So in California today, you can save 30% on your carbon emissions by avoiding the peak times on the infamous duck curve and charging using solar-generated energy. This is a good story and we can actually create- we can create a company that's adding and helping to decarbonize faster. We've remained really, really rooted in that mission all the way from the start. And I think everybody that works for ev.energy subscribes to that purpose and that really, really motivates us towards the goal. Your other question was like, What's it like to grow a business in this space and internationalizing it? I think- I mean, if I'm being very honest with you, Michael, when we started the business, we were based in the UK. I'd obviously done a bit of international work. We saw other stuff happening elsewhere and we were like, Yeah, we'll start in the UK and we'll iterate on it a bit in the UK. We'll crack the UK and then we'll move in a very, very conservative way. What we realized very quickly was with software and with the solution that we were delivering, it was resonating so well and it can be just deployed internationally very, very easily. So we suddenly had interest from American Electric Power in the Midwest. We're like, how can we do something over there? Well, of course, we can just deploy our software over there. We'll integrate some charge point chargers, great. We'll just- we'll get going over there. We'll do some stuff with Volkswagen in Germany. We'll do some stuff in Australia. We'll also start expanding across the whole of the US. Because we're a software only company, we actually have a lot of flexibility to expand internationally that I think, if I'm honest, I didn't appreciate from the very start that we would have.

Michael Crabb
Just on that note, that's very true if you're like a traditional SAS, like a Microsoft computer or an Apple laptop is similar everywhere in the world. Were there some incremental barriers around the different networks, different voltages, different- I mean, all of these electric grids evolved somewhat differently with different regulatory constructs. But are you able to sort of float behind that and let the energy company deal with it?

Nick Woolley
Yeah, so you can. I mean, they are all different and you have to- I mean, I'm not saying it's easy. You have to figure out how-

Michael Crabb
I thought it was easy.

Nick Woolley
I think if you go right to the top of the what the problems are that each of these energy grids are facing, it's like, how do I decarbonize the grid? How do I integrate more renewables into the grid? And electric vehicles are a solution potentially, to that, because they can help balance against the intermittent nature of renewables on the grid. You can then help serve your customers. That's number one. Number two is how do I maintain- how do I ensure that if I'm going to serve something like electric vehicle load, I'm doing it in a cost efficient way. We can help reduce the cost to consumers. That's, again, a universal problem. The other universal problem is from the network perspective: how do I manage congestion hotspots that occur across the grid as they occur, whether that be at the local distribution level or at the transmission and system operation level? And we can help with that, too. And so I think all of those fundamental problems exist across energy networks and utilities broadly, all the way vertically integrated from the network through to the retail space anywhere in the world. The bit that's different - and it's complex - is how do I sell into that, because- how do I sell into say, a vertically integrated utility that owns a network and then owns a retail and has a captive customer base versus a CCA versus a competitive retailer? And that's the bit that's quite challenging. But fundamentally, the block of problems that we're trying to address are common and that every utility is facing.

Michael Crabb
That's really interesting. I presume cyber security has to be a hot button issue for all of your customers as well. Maybe talk to us a little bit about that.

Nick Woolley
Yeah, it absolutely is. And I think, increasingly- I mean, we work in partnership with a lot of the charger manufacturers to deliver a smart and connected service. And electric vehicles, up until now, there are not that many electric vehicles on the grid. And so it doesn't- there's not a cybersecurity risk associated with what happens if all of those electric vehicles were controlled in a malicious way. But as the number- we can just, the demand is just growing. We're just going to have lots of these electric vehicles on the grid. And so what's happening is, I think the companies are getting smarter. We're starting- we think about cybersecurity day in and day out. And there's also a regulatory push. For example, in the UK market, for next year all of the charges that go in have to be smart, but they have to meet some levels of cybersecurity standards. The similar regulation is going in in Norway, in California, the stuff that's being discussed. This will become the ratchet- there will be a ratchet of regulations that get applied to these assets, because as an asset class they could be- they are very significant in terms of the loads that you are able to control. And so, working with the utilities, we obviously need to make sure that we hit all of the highest cybersecurity standards and enable our service in a secure way so that consumers get the benefits of the service, getting cheaper charging, green charging, but they also have a secure and reliable charging experience, too.

Michael Crabb
I guess that really brings some of your experience full circle, as well. We'll quickly- I recognize it as a risk, but we're quickly getting out of my area of expertise. Cool, so talk to us a little bit about where the company is. What you can share about where the company is now, sort of number of vehicles or number of electrons. What are those metrics that you're measuring for future growth? And what's the path to get there?

Nick Woolley
Some of the key stuff that we think about, we're obviously setting ourselves up to build a virtual power plant of electric vehicles. Numbers of electric vehicles on the platform is a key thing for us. We're heading towards 50,000 drivers that are connected in on the platform. The other- drivers is one thing. We obviously need to deliver an engaging proposition to those drivers, but then we're also very keen to obviously work and engage and partner with energy utilities. We have around 20 different energy utilities that are working with us globally, so adding over 20 energy utilities now that work with us globally. And they work on a variety of different topics, whether it be working with system balancing, local distribution, network optimization, generations, renewable alignment, and then retail propositions, too. And then we're also partnering with other ecosystem players, too, like the car OEMs, like I mentioned, Volkswagen, also charging manufacturers, who, as we talked about with the regulations that are coming in, are increasingly looking to our services as the thing to help them to connect into this smart and connected energy system. And as a company, we've got 40 people. We're mainly engineers. We are a tech firm. It's growing really fast. It's been quite a journey over the last three years. I think our timing is pretty good. I don't know what you think about that.

Michael Crabb
Well, yeah, in the energy industry, I think your timing couldn't be better. But hiring a team and growing internationally at the pace you are in the middle of a global pandemic has to- and sort of this labor- I won't call it a labor crisis, but right, there's a lot of labor movement and that has to be really challenging.

Nick Woolley
Yeah, it absolutely is. I mean, finding engineers right now is really challenging. We want to add a lot of engineers to our team, like literally now. And just finding enough of the right talent is really difficult. Yeah, I mean, growing in a pandemic, we are- it's really tricky. My co-founder and I, we were in London. We had just literally finished putting the last work surface in our office in London just before the pandemic hit and then we've never been back. It is quite different. I don't think it's how we anticipated it to go. But, I mean, we are very thankful that the electric vehicle industry has just continued to grow through this period and the demand really isn't letting up. Actually, it's great. I was at COP a few weeks ago and we were talking about smart, flexible energy systems. We were talking about integrating electric vehicles into the energy system. I don't think anybody really thinks that we're not going to move towards a decarbonized transportation system, which is pretty awesome. And we've got a lot of other problems, but that's pretty awesome on that on that front. There's a bit of optimistic- there's good timing, from our perspective, from our business perspective.

Michael Crabb
Well, it is a unique problem. I mean, like the electrical grid, there's so much disruption on the generation and supply side. There's so much disruption on the control side and moving from a centralized to decentralize grid. There's so much disruption on the demand side, which you're obviously intimately familiar with, and around digitization. So I think that's what sort of- we have so many smart people like yourselves attacking these different aspects. And when you think about it that way and I hear some of the folks that we have come on the show, it just reminds you how massive- we made so much progress and yes, we all think we're gonna get there, but it's just massive. I mean, you'll be scaling for 15 years. Right?

Nick Woolley
It is. Yeah. And we probably need to go faster as well and that's the reality. But we will be- I mean, even at the turnover of cars, cars tend to last 10 years. And so even at the turnover of cars, if everybody bought an electric vehicle tomorrow, it would still take 10 years before we actually turn through the entirety of the vehicle stock. So there's a long journey ahead of us. And of course, it doesn't just end electrification of transport. We need to electrify heat. We need to still decarbonize the energy grid in certain areas of the world, a lot more than others. There's a lot of work to do on this journey together.

Michael Crabb
Absolutely. Well, anything else that I should have asked or that you wanted to talk about?

Nick Woolley
We could talk about where we think the market is heading, I suppose, in terms of drivers and utilities and car manufacturers over the next 10 years. That might be interesting.

Michael Crabb
Please.

Nick Woolley
I think what's interesting, if I look towards 2030, like we've said there are not actually that many electric vehicle drivers on the road right now. And we are going to move towards a position where everybody is adopting an electric vehicle. That's super interesting from- we've got this massive transition going on from early adopters who are really, really interested in the tech - they're really excited about the technology and all that good stuff - into the mass market, who are probably just going to be interested in simple charging services. I think that's going to be super exciting, a super exciting space to be building a business. And that's why we're really focused on simplifying and making that driver experience as straightforward as possible.

Michael Crabb
Anticipating, basically, a customer evolution. Your buyer personas today are different than your buyer personas tomorrow. Notably so.

Nick Woolley
Yeah, I think so. I think so. I mean, if you own an electric vehicle today and you don't own, for example, a Tesla vehicle, and you try to recharge that electric vehicle on the go today, it can be a harrowing experience. We've had stories of people with cables getting trapped in chargers and companies not releasing those cables. People just failing to charge or charging at very slow rates on superchargers. It is very much like the wild west right now in terms of the EV space. As an industry, we need to mature a lot. We need to make those services simpler. We need to make them more reliable and we need to scale them to enable us to be able to hit that mass market, who won't be as forgiving on a lot of these things as the early adopters are.

Michael Crabb
That's really interesting. There's something else, so I'll tie this back to what you said around timing. Yeah, I think you're hitting it at the absolute right moment. One of the themes that have come out from our conversation is sort of a lot of activity on the software side. But a lot of the problems you just described were really around hardware, certainly on the generation, but also on the distributed networks and charging. It's great to talk about virtual power plants, but there still is a physical- like there is a physical component to all of this that to me feels like ultimately- I don't think it's the limiting factor today, because of the sort of dated-ness of the of the current system, just from a technology perspective. But it feels to me like that is the limiting factor that there isn't as much capital. There isn't as much talent. There isn't enough agreement on the solutions broadly. I feel like at some point that becomes the limiting factor. That's sort of just a personal bias.

Nick Woolley
The infrastructure, you mean, becomes the limiting factor.

Michael Crabb
Yes.. Both distributed EV charging, grid generation, certainly the industrial and heating demand that you described, obviously whether it's central or distributed transmission. I mean, it just- there's so much work to do there that-

Nick Woolley
There is. There's an awful lot. I think what gives me hope is that there's a lot of- actually, some of the politicians really recognize this. We have the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in the US that is putting 73 billion into infrastructure that's going to be focused around enabling that transition. And I think that's a recognition that that's happening. Similarly, in the UK for example, rapid charging networks, which historically had to pay for the connection cost associated with deploying each of those rapid charges at a location now don't have to pay for it. It's just like, well, we'll just socialize those costs, because we believe that electric vehicles are going to come and we can connect- and that will unblock the connection blockage of people not deploying charges on a motorway service station, for example. I think there is a- there's definitely a role for policy to play to help unblock some of these things and really push forward the infrastructure. But you're right, we need to build the infrastructure ahead of me, because if we don't have enough infrastructure, then I can tell you about owning an electric vehicle and how it's awesome and it's amazing, but you just won't do it because you'll be like, Well, how am I gonna do this trip across- where's the infrastructure?

Michael Crabb
The interface can look great and simple, but there's nothing to plug in, right?

Nick Woolley
Right. Yeah, so you need to do that. But it's a different world. I am- home charging does give me hope, because actually I do think if you do 80 to 90% of your charging at home then and you have the privilege of having access to off street parking - which is a big "if" and in some areas we need to still address that - then there is a way that you can do a lot of your traveling and recharging in a very simple and predictable and smart connected way. But outside the home, yeah, we absolutely need a lot more investment to make sure that it's ready for the mass market and widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Michael Crabb
Yeah. You've got your work cut out for you.

Nick Woolley
It should be fun. I mean, I truly believe this is like- it is one of the most exciting places to work at the moment in terms of electric vehicles, the energy industry as a whole. It's going through, as you described, Michael, this massive transformation. And that just means that there's a lot of innovation going on. It's a very exciting place to work.

Michael Crabb
Well, we need more people. If you're an engineer out there, Nick's looking for-

Nick Woolley
Indeed, we are.

Michael Crabb
And I'm sure given the size of the market that you'll continually have jobs on the page. Super exciting.

Nick Woolley
Thank you very much.

Michael Crabb
Yeah. Thanks for coming on. Looking forward to following your continued success.

Nick Woolley
Thank you very much, Michael. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for the stimulating conversation.

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