C-Suite Advisory

Expressway for EVs and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of Smart microgrids

  • Somewhere at the crossroads towards the end of the 20th and dawn of the 21st century, the starting grid of new technologies was forming to set the pace for the future of road transportation. 
  • Distributed information, research and scale down vehicles depicting models of the future often made one wonder, what was this all about.
  • Does the recall make you go down your memory lane? What thoughts are stimulating the minds of the new CEO’s in making? 

The subtle yet intently focused shift in the road transportation landscape has led to the present-day advent of electric vehicles (EVs). The EVs are not only disruptive, they are here to stay. The transition in the Energy landscape across economies is envisaged to stand witness to this as the future evolves. However, several challenges remain to make EVs sustainable choice of the populace and businesses. Where challenges show up, so do entrepreneurial opportunities. The supportive technological, infrastructural and service requirements for EVs is immense. The emergence of smart microgrids as possible response to some of these challenges in sustainable adoption of EVs, harbors a novel exploratory area of entrepreneurial ecosystem.

‘Electrifying’ the EV Experience 

Do we calibrate ourselves to become smarter with time? The answer is a big yay! The power supply situation and its management systems have similarly calibrated itself over the last couple of decades with reliable power supply conditions. In this context, a smart microgrid is essentially a localised independent electricity network catering to some specific power requirements. They are digitally controlled, having self-responding capabilities to adjust to faults and varying demands in the system, and empowers the customers to become active participants in the power supply cycle. With multisource distributed power generation capabilities through integration of traditional and renewables, these grids build-in resilience in the localised electricity supply landscape. Their integration with the central or the main grids may also be suitably modulated as per the level of dynamic demand-supply positions. Digitalisation of controls bringing in cost effectiveness and opportunities in generation of local employment for operations and maintenance make the adoption of smart microgrids attractive. Its potential to accelerate proliferation of the most required infrastructure for charging solutions for the EVs remain untapped yet.

As EVs break grounds for competitive ownership combining total cost of running fuel expenses and initial purchase cost, the higher upfront investment vis-à-vis conventional vehicular segment is heavily reliant on government subsidies or tax benefits. More so due to spiralling motor fuel prices surging around with high crude import. While the automotive behemoths are putting their strength behind presenting attractive propositions to customers to own and drive an EV, the associated supportive infrastructure is yet to be backed by big names. The acceptance and adoption of EVs, will truly lead to a cleaner environment through zero-emission is highly desirable. Surveys indicate that while EVs are being perceived as the future in automobile industry, the lack of fast paced and widely accessible charging solutions act as a deterrent. However, with this new challenge there are still some first advantage movers, accelerating their existence and changing the industry rules. Who are these new entrants and the industry drivers?

The starting grid 

Historical trends on global oil crises and depleting fuel reserves had long mandated for fuel alternative. This paradox of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situation coaxes for pursuing clean energy alternatives, especially in the automobile industry, which is an extensive consumer of oil-based fuels. EVs supported through smart micro grids is exciting and is exacting futuristic response while research in fuel cells is at nascent stages as yet. Though the global market share of EVs is below 3 percent as per last available reports of International Energy Agency (IEA), however the interest in this segment across Europe, China, the Indian subcontinent and some of the other promising markets are emanating potent signals for intelligent interpretation. Global giant Tesla has taken a lead followed by several other entrants like Lucid Motors, Nio, Nissan, Audi, XPeng, Kia, Piaggio, Hyliion, Rad bikes, Forth etc. China has made the first move in implementing the overall ecosystem required to build, operate and develop a complementary dual infrastructure for EVs and the smart micro grids. With a rising generation of environmentally and financially conscious consumer segment, entrepreneurial preparedness to tap maximum potential will differentiate success or failure in a level playing field. Do the traditional automobile manufacturers realise the essence and captive need to exploit the EV market? Is a novel entrepreneurial ecosystem in the offing? Are you ready to witness the blitzkrieg proliferation of the EVs? Questions to dwell upon!

Fast-track move

For EVs to get popular, the management of charging stations, dedicated electrical workshops, mobile or home charging setups are some of the area where initial possibilities exist. These visible pit-stops on the expressway of future need to be leveraged by the entrepreneurs who will fast-track and propel the onward journey with an enhanced momentum. In an empowered and focussed environment supporting them, they have full freedom to explore, try and test solutions in this direction.

The smart microgrids being considered a viable response to the requirement of widely spread charging solutions are prospected to bring in last mile connect even at remotest locations. The challenge here is more technological in form of achieving synchronisation amongst the different power sources like solar, wind, alternative or other conventional generators. One more area where immense scope exists is cost-effective and environmentally acceptable storage solutions for the power generated. Intelligent pricing strategies comprising both consumers and prosumers for the purpose may provide thorough insight in the area.

However, it is well beknown that assumingly stable entrepreneurial trails have been often fraught with paradoxes of unpredictable discoveries. Predictions in VUCA conditions may not hold forte with advent of fast paced technological changes. Staying agile, innovative and interpreting the weak signals by continuous scanning of the horizons will assist in tackling situations as they emerge. In an interdependent world of human existence, shared learnings across the globe would accelerate the shape-up of the expressway.

The adoption of UN sustainable development goals in 2015 showcased a promising picture of our planet for future generations. In the same beat, EVs do have immense potential to contribute to a cleaner and greener planet supported by the entrepreneurial ecosystem of smart microgrids. Are we ready for this electrifying experience in the new expressway?

Written by Dr. Manoj Joshi.

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Dr. Manoj Joshi
Dr. Manoj Joshi, is co-Author of "The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner” and "VUCA in Start-ups". He is a Chartered Engineer and currently a Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University. He is the Regional Editor India, JFBM; IJSBA and an editorial board member for journals like APJM, JSBM, BSE, JEEE, WRMSED etc. His consulting includes VUCA strategy, travelled extensively with over 30 years of experience in areas of Screw pumps Design, Heat Exchangers, Loading Arms, consulting, research and teaching. He has a deep interest in dark matter, dark energy, astral travel, travelling to woods and life after death.

Dr. Manoj Joshi is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.