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Estonian smart energy startup Gridio launches Ursula Mode app to reduce peak electricity use this winter

As Europe braces for the challenging winter, every device matters. Estonian startup Gridio releases the solution to ease peak energy consumption by switching to smart electric vehicle charging.

An Estonian smart energy app Gridio invites Europeans to take action and start lowering their peak hour electricity consumption. In reaction to the EU’s proposal for countries to cut peak demand, the company launched Ursula Mode.

Gridio’s main focus has been the over-the-air smart charging scheduling of electric cars at people’s homes, which the company also offers to business users. Their app, usable on iOS and Android devices, has more than 15,000 registered users from 10 countries since its launch last August.

The new feature is named after the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The mode will share timely and on-point electricity price data and encourage better consumption habits during peak hours.

Charging, now even smarter

“Reducing demand during peak hours will make the supply last longer, and it will bring prices down,” said von der Leyen during her State of the Union speech on Wednesday, 14 September.

Following that, The European Commission announced two demand reduction targets for electricity:

  • a non-binding goal for EU countries to reduce overall electricity demand by at least 10% until 31 March 2023.
  • a mandatory reduction of electricity consumption by 5% for at least 10% of high-demand hours each week. According to preliminary estimates, this would impact around 3-4 hours weekly.

Those measures directly respond to the energy crisis and gas shortages inflicted on the EU by Russia. During peak demand periods for electricity, natural gas-fired power stations tend to provide the additional electricity required. Avoiding electricity use in peak hours has two impacts. Firstly, it reduces natural gas use and improves the EU’s chances of getting through the winter with current storage levels. Secondly, it can significantly reduce electricity prices during these hours if fewer gas-fired power plants must be turned on to meet energy needs.

Those efforts could save up the equivalent of 1.2bcm of gas over a 4-month period, according to European Commission. The market share of electric vehicles in Europe quickly increased from 3% in 2019 to 19% in 2021 among all new vehicle registrations, according to ICCT. This roughly translates to 8M electric vehicles currently operated in the Union.

“Today, we are in a situation where even a small amount of electricity use that we can shift away from peak hours electricity use is likely to reduce our dependence on natural gas and make its supplies last longer through winter. So while governments are only starting to figure out how to achieve the new EU targets, we can and should start today. That is why we released Ursula Mode,” said Konrad Hanschmidt, co-founder of Gridio.

An average Gridio smart charging user saves more than three hundred euros off their charging bill in a year, claims the company. Its largest market is Denmark, where more than 10% of electric Volkswagen and Škoda owners use their service already. Born in Tallinn, the startup also have a significant presence in Estonia with more than 1,300 registered users and up to 20,000 daily visitors on its portal.

Gridio has been scheduling smart charging of thousands of electric vehicles since its launch last year – albeit to help users with dynamic energy tariffs to find the cheapest time to charge. With Ursula Mode, Gridio has now modified its app to help car owners simply automatically avoid peak charging when it makes sense.

Gridio was founded in 2018 by Konrad Hanschmidt, the former head of energy research of mining company BHP Billiton, and Sandor Liive, the former CEO of Eesti Energia – the largest electricity company in Estonia.

Although both Konrad and Sandor have a long experience in electricity markets, the company started really taking off when Peeter Meos, Gridio’s CTO,  joined them following a career as a senior scientist in NATO and a stint in energy trading.

Interested in investing in Estonia? Find out more about the country’s energy sector here and book a time via e-Consulting to speak to your personal advisor.

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