It's no secret that European utilities have made grid edge technology investments a strategic priority, with a growing focus on e-mobility solutions. This week, that trend continued with a new investment from EDF Renewable Energy.
EDF RE announced Monday that it has closed on Series A financing for vehicle-to-grid technology company Nuvve Corporation in partnership with Toyota Tsusho, and with additional support from an unnamed private equity fund.
The round, the amount for which was not disclosed, is intended to advance commercialization of the trademarked NUVVEgives Grid Integrated Vehicle platform. It will also enable the company to acquire full rights to the V2G intellectual property developed by Chief Technology Officer Willett Kempton, who developed Nuvve's technology at the University of Delaware beginning in 1996.
San Diego-based Nuvve claims to offer the world's first commercially available V2G solution, which allows for bidirectional EV charging aligned to meet the needs of the grid. The NUVVEgives platform can aggregate thousands of EVs into a virtual power plant, allowing the company to participate in electricity markets with a power capacity on par with traditional generators.
In most other smart-charging applications, energy only flows in one direction, and charging is either slowed or shifted to reduce strain on the system. Nuvve's V2G platform allows for two-way power flow between the car battery and the electric grid, enabling EVs to store and resell electricity when needed. Nuvve's cloud-connected aggregation technology ensures each vehicle has sufficient charge for its next trip before determining how much battery capacity is available for purchase.
For EDF RE, the Series A investment in Nuvve is part of a strategic push into the distributed electricity and energy storage market, according to a company statement. The two companies plan to work with grid operators and regulators to accelerate V2G participation in grid ancillary markets. The partnership will also create an offering for V2G charging coupled with on-site solar for U.S.-based commercial and industrial customers.
"C&Is are increasingly asking for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure to offer the onsite benefit to employees and customers. EDF RE can deliver cost-effective, clean and reliable solar power to charge the EVs, while Nuvve brings a V2G solution that can reduce charging costs and serve the local grid," said Raphael Declercq, vice president of portfolio strategy at EDF Renewable Energy. “The investment in Nuvve aligns nicely with our distributed energy strategy to provide C&I customers with a complete solution to optimize their electricity needs.”
For Nuvve, which currently operates a commercial V2G hub in Denmark in partnership with Enel and several other demonstration projects in Europe and the U.S., the support from EDF RE and Toyota Tsusho will allow for market expansion in new geographies.
"We're delighted to have two strategic partners leading this financing round," said Nuvve CEO Gregory Poilasne, in a statement. "We anticipate our partners will help us build on our successes in Western Europe and North America and open up new markets like Japan."
EDF RE's investment in Nuvve follows Enel's recent acquisition of e-mobility solutions provider eMotorWerks, and is just the latest in a series of grid edge investments and acquisitions by European utilities. Enel, an Italian multinational firm, also purchased American companies Demand Energy and EnerNOC this year, and rebranded its e-solutions division as Enel X earlier this month.
In March, French multinational Engie acquired Netherlands-based EV-Box, which has deployed more than 50,000 EV chargers in 20 countries worldwide, including the U.S. As the company expands its network of chargers, it's also deploying smart charging services for load balancing and peak shaving, with a strong interest in bringing its experience from Europe to utilities in California.
In related e-mobility news, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell purchased the Netherlands-based EV charging firm NewMotion in October. NewMotion manages more than 30,000 EV charging stations in Western Europe, with plans to expand further across Europe.
While European players have been some of the most ambitious investors in EV-charging startups to date, they aren't the only ones.
"EVs, EV charging and transportation is the No. 1 area of interest for our utilities," said Cassandra Bowe, associate vice president at Energy Impact Partners, speaking at GTM's Energy Storage Summit earlier this month.
EIP is a U.S.-based strategic investment firm that is backed by some of the world's largest energy companies, including American utilities Southern Company, Xcel Energy and National Grid. According to a recent poll on topics deemed most important to EIP members, ranging from blockchain to solar, residential EV charging topped the list, said Bowe. Commercial EV charging ranked third and overall transportation electrification ranked fourth. In July, EIP made a "significant investment" in smart EV charging company Greenlots.