Navigant supports first residential vehicle-to-grid charging project

12 February 2018

As the UK prepares for life after combustion engines, with a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles coming into force by 2040, significant changes must be made to British infrastructure. Consulting firm Navigant has given its support to help deliver the UK Residential Vehicle-to-Grid Initiative.

A new consortium has been launched, in order to develop the first large-scale UK domestic trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging technology for drivers of electric vehicles (EV). The £7 million Octopus V2G project from Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant, has been granted £3 million of government funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, and is backed by Innovate UK.

By 2040, the government will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars and vans, with EV, paving the way for electricity to play a key role in future and cheaper transport, grid flexibility, energy to homeowners and faster decarbonisation. The huge level of uptake is expected to have a considerable impact on local grids, with some suggesting a purely electric vehicle travelling 10,000 miles a year could double the energy consumption of the home it charges from. Meanwhile, beyond the home, the Highways Agency has had to commit to a £15 million infrastructure programme designed to ensure that drivers are never more than 20 miles from a charging point on the UK’s A roads.

Navigant supports first residential vehicle-to-grid charging project

The smart technology trial is set to be rolled out this year, with the hope that it can help prepare the country for electrification of its roads. The scheme aims to help identify consumer behaviour and preferences, key data on demand times and flexibility, help establish future infrastructure needs and plan for charging models and packages to suit everyone in the market. The project will see 135 vehicle-to-grid chargers installed in a ‘cluster’ to see how much spare capacity from car batteries can be collected – not only potentially boosting resilience and flexibility for the network during peak demand but also giving customers the chance to sell and earn money on the energy.

Navigant, which is part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, will enable technical innovation in the transportation sector, providing project advice and analysis over the next three years, serving as a key advisor and participant in a UK initiative aimed at developing the first large-scale trial of residential V2G charging.

Fiona Howarth, CEO, of Octopus Electric Vehicles said, “There has been a lot of talk from the side-lines about how vehicle-to-grid technology will change the face of energy, but with this consortium we will be the first in the UK to actually deliver it to hundreds of households.”

Mark Livingstone, a Director at Navigant, added, “Our project focuses on the residential market, so is quite ground breaking as V2G services are in a very early stage in this segment. Very few chargers and EVs are equipped for this role at present, so we will have technical innovation to test as well as customer response and system performance questions.”


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.