Gridio launches ‘Ursula Mode’ to solve the energy crisis
Konrad Hanschmidt
October 3, 2022

Today, we launch a special feature that enables all Europeans to track and avoid peak electricity prices to save gas this winter.

On 14 September, Ursula von der Leyen said in her State of the Union speech that “Reducing demand during peak hours will make [gas] supply last longer and it will bring prices down.” The same day a mandatory 5% peak electricity reduction target for EU member states was proposed and agreed to on 30 September.

We at Gridio, felt that we can give Ursula a hand and build a new feature inside the app to track and avoid peak electricity prices. Internally the feature became affectionately known as Ursula-mode and given the challenge laid out by Mrs. von der Leyen we decided to retain this title in our public release.

Until today Gridio has been offering thousands of consumers in 10 countries with dynamic electricity tariffs a free service to find the best time to use electricity. In addition to pointing out the best prices, Gridio automatically schedules electric cars to charge during the hours, when electricity production is generally the cleanest. For those with solar panels at their homes, Gridio offers an additional benefit of charging based on available solar energy.

With Ursula-mode, all Europeans can now track when peak prices occur. This serves as the first step to reducing peak electricity demand as called on by Ursula von der Leyen. Additionally, electric vehicle owners automatically avoid peak-time charging with Gridio. Just tell us when your car should be charged by in the morning — and we will automatically shift the charging away from peak hours.

How does it work?

The Gridio app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. There are two ways to use Ursula-mode:

If you do not own an electric car, you can use the app to find when the peak hours of electricity are, and voluntarily limit your electricity use. This can include delaying your washing, dishwashing or even reducing your home thermostat by a degree.

If you have an electric vehicle, you can connect that to Gridio to automatically ad avoid peak-time charging. Just let us know when you want your car to be charged up by, and Gridio will schedule the charging to avoid peak hours of electricity. Gridio currently supports Tesla, Volkswagen, Škoda, Seat/CUPRA, Hyundai, Kia, Ford Mustang and we are soon adding Audi, BMW and Porsche as well.

Gridio — building a community of smart chargers

Ursula-Mode, just like our app, will remain free for anyone to use. They say that if something is offered for free, then you, the consumer, are the product. In our case, it’s our users’ cars that are the product — because we at Gridio firmly believe that electric vehicles will be a critical part of a renewables-driven electrical grid. Our aim is to make electric cars charge when it makes sense — during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper and cleaner, and for our users to eventually get paid for doing so by grid operators. The current crisis has shown the immense value and direct savings that flexible use of electricity brings to us as consumers. Therefore, we hope that in the light of this new EU and national regulations to tackle future energy crises will be fast-tracked, so that electric car owners can start getting paid for their valuable contribution.

For now, we can all contribute to tackling the crisis by avoiding electricity use during the hours of peak demand. We do hope that Gridio’s Ursula-Mode will make it easier for you!

Konrad, co-founder and CEO of Gridio

Note: For our existing users, Ursula Mode will have not have any impact — you are already contributing to peak avoidance by automatically shifting your electricity use to the cheapest hours. For countries with no dynamic energy tariffs, Ursula Mode will highlight and help avoid peak hours of electricity.

Explanation: Why is it important to reduce electricity use during peak price hours?

The EU has asked us to reduce electricity consumption during peak hours. This will directly lower the use of natural gas in electricity generation — which in turn means that there will be more gas left over for heating and industrial use. The end result will be lower figures on all our monthly energy bills.

During most days (working days usually), electricity demand shoots up at times when people wake up and go to work (morning peaks) and after people leave work and head home (evening peaks). In order to meet these rather concentrated demand surges the power grid needs generators that can be started and stopped easily. This, in turn, makes electricity prices to surge, since in order for gas-fired power stations to cover their purchase of eye-wateringly expensive gas, they push up the price of electricity they charge the consumers during these hours

The EU estimates that by reducing electricity consumption by 5% during peak hours, we can lower the use of natural gas by 1.2 billion cubic meters this winter. This will in turn bring down electricity prices due to the disproportionately high effect they have on the hours of peak demand.

Explanation: Why are electric vehicles a great way to reduce peak-time electricity consumption?

What’s great about electric vehicles is that most of them only need a few hours of charging per day. Their charging can easily be delayed to night time while still ensuring that cars are charged up by the time of the morning commute. Unlike turning down your thermostat, or delaying cooking to off-peak times, shifting the charging of vehicles from evening peaks to over-night time has no adverse effect on the consumer — as long as the car is charged up by the morning.

According to data from Gridio, an average electric vehicle owner charges his/her car two or three times per week. With charging habits differing from day to day, this means that about 25% of all electric vehicles are plugged in every single day — most of them exactly during peak evening hours, where we should avoid using electricity.

When plugged in, cars on average charge with 10 kilowatts of power for 2–3 hours. With 8 million electric vehicles set to be on the roads in the EU by end-2022, that is a total of 13 gigawatts of peak time electricity use that can be shifted to off-peak. This amounts to more than half of the 5% reduction mandated by the European Commission. Therefore, shifting the charging of cars is an easy-to implement large scale solution to meet the EU goal — without any additional expenditures and without any adverse effect the owners of electric vehicles.

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