Billing - The Next Energy Challenge

Today the majority of energy we consume and pay for is at home and the home is where the energy is metered, and the meter is tied to a single account and, more often than not, the account is tied to a single meter.

A one to one relationship between the individual (bill payer), the location and supplier, this is how the GB energy system works today. Electric vehicles introduce a challenge to this status quo, because electric vehicles will not only consume energy while parked at the owner's home but also when it's away. It could be at a commercial charge station, at the home of a friend or family, at a charge point in the street lamp outside or a one in the employers car park. We already consume other people's energy today, such as charging our mobile phones at work or at a friend's home but electric vehicles are different. An electric vehicle can consume 5 days worth of an average homes energy consumption in a single charge (60Kwh), a mobile phone's full charge is around 0.005 kWh, a car has 12,000 times the capacity. That's not trivial and we can't expect our family, friends or employers to be generous enough to pay for it.

There are two primary answers to this challenge. As a nation we deploy commercial charging stations and customer consumption is metered and charged to their bank or credit card each time we use them.The other potential option is as our domestic energy account becomes open or mobile, we break the one-to-one relationship between dwelling, account and energy retailer.

Today we see the former option being driven but more recently we have also seen some energy suppliers investing in and piloting the latter. The latter option could be key to the success (dare I say survival) of the energy supplier's business in the future but getting billing right isn't easy as we've seen from high profile failures in recent years.