Globally, SpaceX and Tesla Founder Elon Musk has inspired millions to startup in the electric vehicle segment. In India, we had the likes of Chetan Maini and a clutch of entrepreneurs, who set the tone for the future of electric vehicles in the country.
And now, the government too wants electric vehicles to become the main form of transportation by 2030, and is encouraging users to transition. However, not many know that when millions of EVs are plugged into the grid, it may just fail and cause a whole city to run out of electricity.
To solve this problem of grid overloading before more users start driving EVs in the country, Bhargava G A, Prasad Pilla, and Sandeep Musti, along with their advisor Sunil Musti, founded Enercent in 2018.
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A multi-sided energy platform, Enercent’s energy-as-a-service solution provides clients with real-time demand response and flexibility, and an end-to-end EV charging solution.
“There are complexities in EV adoption. The country lacks a charging infrastructure, leading to range anxiety among the drivers and fleet operators. Today, because of heavy capital and maintenance expenditure, fleet operators cannot own and manage charging operations. Not many understand the complex demand response management, load/grid impact on charging EVs at scale,’’ says Bhargava, MD and Co-founder of Enercent.
How it works
Enercent works on a pay-as-you-go or per watt model by providing vehicle and charging infrastructure interoperability and orchestration of energy production and consumption assets for a seamless VPP (Virtual Power Plant) experience.
The startup helps companies manage EV architecture and fleet charging operations efficiently. Its technology has a latency of 0.4 seconds and is capable of managing 20 million EV assets in real-time.
The Enercent app lets EV users discover charging points, book a time slot, charge and park peacefully, and pay low tariffs per unit. From battery management to charge station booking, billing, and payments – the app does everything.
Additionally, the Enercent Cloud helps parking operators and fleet managers monetise their assets – parking lots, outdoor electrical sockets, and level-2 EV chargers. The startup has also developed a solution called IoT Edge to power electronics hardware that integrates with Enercent Cloud for a connected EV experience.
Enercent helps set up end-to-end EV charging infrastructure, and owns and manages electrical lines in client locations. It also has tools for data ingestion, full automation, AI and Big Data, and payment gateway integration.
The startup can operate on real-time demand and also caters to response management in case of overloading of the grid.
A favourable market
The co-founders believe that several trends in electric mobility are working in their favour. Today, ownership is making way for mobility-as-a-service, increasing multimodal integrated mobility, thereby facilitating end-to-end services to the consumer. Data suggests that India will have a shared fleet of around 4.7 million EVs by 2025.
The startup competes with the likes of Sun Mobility and Magenta Power. According to SIAM, the market size for electric vehicles in India is about one million units.
The adoption of electric vehicles will be primarily driven by businesses to achieve the government mandated 100 percent EV target by 2030, largely motivated by cost and performance.
Electricity prices are on an increasing trend despite capacity improvements to cater to the power needs, projecting a four-fold increase in peak demand in the next decade.
Enercent works with India’s largest online grocer. In 2019, the company wanted to be closer to its customers and wanted to build the EV infrastructure across its 100 locations in new and smaller warehouses.
However, factors like the complexity and cost of upfront infrastructure, and software costs to manage the grid impact were delaying the rollout and even threatening the whole project.
“The company then turned to us as the exclusive, end-to-end charging infrastructure partner for its warehouses. Enercent sets up, owns and manages the entire charging infrastructure,’’ says Sandeep, Co-founder of Enercent.
This freed-up the client’s management bandwidth, allowing it to reduce TCO (and avail government subsidies), and ownership became a variable cost.
‘’The client is moving faster and moved up EV rollout across its network. Increased customer intimacy on top of lower logistics cost and higher scalability is creating a winning edge,’’ says Sunil, advisor to the company.
The startup charges them for the amount of energy consumed and the total assets consuming that energy.
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Funding and what’s next
All three founders have invested around Rs 1.5 crore so far in the startup.
There are several challenges ahead in scaling up Enercent because the acceptance of EVs is at a very nascent stage in India. The EV policy is still evolving, as is the technology and hardware around it.
‘’We plan to bring 100,000 vehicles under management in the next 18 months, acquiring 10 new clients with Energy under Management (EuM) of around 200GW,” says Bhargava.
The startup is also piloting with three more clients and will sign all of them up this financial year.
Over the next 18 months, Enercent plans to provide real world experience in managing gigawatts of distributed energy resources for EV charging and other energy assets for global OEMs and utilities.
It wants to provide a holistic approach from watts (consumed and forecasted), to charge points (and their high availability) to superior analytics for fleet/logistic operations.
Enercent will also perfect the pay-per-watt business model, abstracting the complexity and uncertainties of power prices, charging standards leading to vehicle agnostic approach for the benefit of fleet owners.
At present, it claims to be generating $500,000 in revenue and wants to double this in the next financial year.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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