I opened the book on a tab that he had created. This particular part of the book described the local grid and referred to the Energy Internet. Basically, home appliances to electric cars can bid for energy by only obtaining it during “off hours” ensuring that brown outs are reduced and local utility companies have enough energy available during peak hours.
Later that day I rushed to a presentation entitled “The Entrepreneurial Opportunities Produced by the Introduction of Electric Vehicles” at the Rotman School of Business. I had originally registered, not out of interest in the topic, but to see guest lecturer, Bernard Avishai. As he spoke, I became fascinated with his introduction into the world of electric vehicles. What struck me was the language he used, mostly talking about the importance of collaboration, convergence and ecosystems, words that we often use at SiG.
Of particular interest was his discussion on the sheer magnitude of opportunities for those with the entrepreneurial drive to create systems and more importantly, standards, around electrical vehicles. He used Chevrolet’s Volt as his test case scenario. This one hour session was packed with information about the opportunities and the barriers to creating this new ecosystem Citing the electrical vehicle as an “iphone of a new industry,” Bernard explained that the existing infrastructure is already in place. These cars are getting cheaper and more importantly, greener 90% of the time.
Big problems need big solutions. His suggestion: take power from renewable sources. This would require smart cars and smart power plants. From the vehicle/consumer point of view, the car needs to be smart enough to sync to the power plant at a time when the grid is not being overly saturated. In the other direction, the power plant needs to be smart enough to upload electricity to the batteries in the car when the wind/waves are at the highest capacities to obtain the most energy from the renewable energy source.
The opportunities here are incredible. Building these types of systems, which I alluded to earlier in my comments on the local grid and the Energy Internet could be part of the big solution. Avishai believes that ecosystems can only truly work if standards are created for the players who build the management of these systems. Standards for the hardware, information upload, billings systems from power companies, diagnostics, the list goes on and on. The good news is that the various partners in this ecosystem are already in the market.
A new player in this market comes from the Basque region. An organization called DenokInn, Basque Centre for Innovation Entrepreneurship and New Business Development is working with the MIT Fab Lab, as well as other interested parties in this region to create a new urban mobility concept vehicle named the Citycar. This concept car is small in size and can reach fifty miles per hour, but has a range of 100 kilometres, with only 12 minutes to recharge its batteries.