Interview with the Product Manager for Storage Solutions at Stadtwerke München (SWM), Daniela Beck, on the opportunities and benefits of combining PV, storage and e-mobility for utility companies.
Combined, solar power, storage technologies and e-mobility are key cornerstones of the transition to clean energy and transport. Your utility company has been providing photovoltaic storage solutions for a number of years now. Has the substantial growth in e-mobility had any impact on the products and services in your portfolio?
It goes without saying that we want to be a utility company that can offer its customers a range of products that fit with the future. That’s why we always keep an eye on the current market trends and develop our products with our customers’ needs in mind. We already provide a number of photovoltaic and charging solutions, including energy storage systems for private and commercial customers. We need to combine storage solutions with electric vehicle charging stations, decentralized power generation plants and potentially also heating solutions in a smart way if we are to make the successful transition to clean energy and cut vehicle emissions down to zero in a densely populated city like Munich. Suitable solutions are constantly being developed and launched in pilot projects. So watch this space!
How do specific tariffs for charging electric vehicles at home and in public feature in your e-mobility portfolio?
As it stands, we are working on the basis that there will be different tariffs at home, at work and in public. Time is most likely of the essence here. If I’m staying in one place for a while and therefore have more time available for charging, say when I’m at home, my costs will presumably be much lower than when I’m using a high-speed charging station in a public place because I don’t have much time to get fully charged up.
From the perspective of a utility company, where is the biggest potential for growth in e-mobility?
Here at SWM, we believe that it will be possible to cover as much as 85 percent of vehicle charging at home and/or at work in the long term. It makes most sense financially for people to charge their electric vehicles at the places where the vehicles are parked most of the time. Not to mention that it’s more convenient for charging to be done at home. Empty tanks and lengthy detours to find the nearest charging station are a thing of the past.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles standing in the way of e-mobility becoming more widespread at the moment?
The many studies that have been published on this topic suggest that there’s a long list of factors at play here. The lack of infrastructure usually gets mentioned, but that’s not really much of an issue here in Munich because SWM already operates around 1,200 public charging stations. If there’s somewhere without a public charging station nearby, it’s usually not a problem for us to install a private one if the demand is there. Obviously, car manufacturers have their part to play too when it comes to considerations like range and price. But many of the barriers have been broken down significantly if not entirely by this point. From our point of view, we now need to raise awareness and boost practical experience among the general public. There’s no question that we’re gradually heading in the right direction, though.
What do you do as a utility company to help your customers make their own energy and transport changes?
In doing its bit to facilitate the overall transition to clean energy and transport, SWM is leading the way when it comes to e-mobility too. We provide a range of products and solutions that help our customers overcome the challenges and make the transition easier. As a provider of photovoltaic systems and green power, we ensure that mobility in the city is sustainable and fit for the future in terms of both private vehicles and public transport.