It was during early spring 2016 that we started looking into blockchain. What was this technology all about? What could it mean for us and our businesses? We decided to dig very deep into the topic in order to understand more about it. Early on, we understood that this was not a very easy topic. Consequently, we decided that we wanted to work with others to elaborate around the topic and we wanted to try to find a use case; at the end of the day, it has to be concrete in order to move forward.
We met the Innogy blockchain team for the first time during August 2016 and we mutually agreed that EV charging was a very interesting topic to develop further. The project idea “Oslo2Rome” was born.
Now the initiative includes seven partners in five countries and within weeks we will have tested the whole solution. It remains to be seen if we made it the whole way from “Oslo2Rome”. I might add a spoiler here: although we started from Oslo, we chose to exclude the actual >550 km trip from Karlstad to the German border as it didn’t contribute to the actual test. The purpose of our participation in the whole initiative is that we believe it will improve the EV customer experience, especially for those moving between countries and operators. As a charging operator, a blockchain-based payment system might also be more cost effective and provide better solutions for roaming services.
We also believe that it’s beneficial to engage in collaboration with others – as we are doing in this initiative. Will a solution like this help to lower the threshold for an individual to switch to EV? It might, hence it’s worth pursuing.
The Nordic EV market
The EV market in Norway is already close to having become a mass market, and Fortum Charge & Drive is the main charging operator. The market is different in Sweden, with significantly fewer EV’s and PHEV’s dominating the market for chargeable vehicles, although there is steady growth and a somewhat more fragmented charging market. Finland is now pushing hard for fast expansion of the charging network to support the transition towards EVs. Finland is also one of our home markets.
The focus of Fortum’s business model for B2B charging is on a white label solution in close cooperation with, for example, municipality utilities, property managers and fast-food chains, offering a back-end solution where operations, maintenance and customer support are handled by us. An upside for the end customer is full access to all 1 500 charging points in the network. In a sparsely populated country (which these three countries are), a fairly comprehensive fast-charging network is necessary, but we have gradually increased our focus on Home Charging solutions. Especially in Sweden, with its large share of PHEV’s, home charging is crucial in order to get the EV part of PHEV going.
Will blockchain have a role in different solutions connected to e-mobility? Yes, we believe so, and this is the first step. Then we’ll ’see’ what the next one is.
R&D Manager, Sweden
The Oslo2Rome project is a cooperation between infrastructure between EV charging infrastructure companies Elaad, Enexis Group, enviaM, Fortum, innogy, Sodetrel and VKW, covering Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Netherlands and France. The purpose is to test cross-border charging network based on blockchain technology and utilizing a shared version of technology developer MotionsWerk’s e-mobility wallet.