3 Questions For Fortum
Why are you participating at the Oslo2Rome initiative?
It was during early spring 2016 that we started looking into blockchain. What was this technology all about? What could it mean for us and our businesses? We decided to dig very deep into the topic in order to understand more about it. Early on, we understood that this was not a very easy topic. Consequently, we decided that we wanted to work with others to elaborate around the topic and we wanted to try to find a use case; at the end of the day, it has to be concrete in order to move forward.
We met the Innogy blockchain team for the first time during August 2016 and we mutually agreed that EV charging was a very interesting topic to develop further. The project idea “Oslo2Rome” was born.
Now the initiative includes seven partners in five countries and within weeks we will have tested the whole solution. It remains to be seen if we made it the whole way from “Oslo2Rome”. I might add a spoiler here: although we started from Oslo, we chose to exclude the actual >550 km trip from Karlstad to the German border as it didn’t contribute to the actual test.
The purpose of our participation in the whole initiative is that we believe it will improve the EV customer experience, especially for those moving between countries and operators. As a charging operator, a blockchain-based payment system might also be more cost effective and provide better solutions for roaming services.
We also believe that it’s beneficial to engage in collaboration with others – as we are doing in this initiative. Will a solution like this help to lower the threshold for an individual to switch to EV? It might, hence it’s worth pursuing.
How developed is emobility in your country?
The EV market in Norway is already close to having become a mass market, and Fortum Charge & Drive is the main charging operator. The market is different in Sweden, with significantly fewer EV’s and PHEV’s dominating the market for chargeable vehicles, although there is steady growth and a somewhat more fragmented charging market. Finland is now pushing hard for fast expansion of the charging network to support the transition towards EVs. Finland is also one of our home markets.
Tell us something about your business and your current efforts around emobility?
The focus of Fortum’s business model for B2B charging is on a white label solution in close cooperation with, for example, municipality utilities, property managers and fast-food chains, offering a back-end solution where operations, maintenance and customer support are handled by us. An upside for the end customer is full access to all 1 500 charging points in the network. In a sparsely populated country (which these three countries are), a fairly comprehensive fast-charging network is necessary, but we have gradually increased our focus on Home Charging solutions. Especially in Sweden, with its large share of PHEV’s, home charging is crucial in order to get the EV part of PHEV going.
Will blockchain have a role in different solutions connected to e-mobility? Yes, we believe so, and this is the first step. Then we’ll ’see ’what the next one is.
Oslo2Rome Tour Report
With significant efforts expended in developing the blockchain solution, integrating with the backend system and charging stations, and orchestrating an EU wide technology showcase, it was immensely exciting to kick-off the Fortum C&D leg of the Oslo2Rome tour. Stian Mathisen and I undertook the charging and driving responsibilities. Our part of the tour began in the Oslo Kommune charging bays, in below-zero conditions. The initial charging attempt commenced well; the app was intuitive to use and the blockchain network successfully facilitated the activation of the charging station from my account. Alas, fate was not on our side at this time for the physical CHAdeMO plug socket was out of order. Nothing could be done except to cancel the transaction and begin charging with an RFID tag at an adjacent charger. The silver lining however was the technical aspects of the charge functioned correctly.
Next came the long 1,5 hour drive from Oslo to the Swedish border near Töcksfors. The drive itself afforded spectacular views as the road carved through snow-covered hills and across large frozen lakes. When we arrived at Töckfors we took a much-needed lunch pause and charged the car again at the C&D charging station. Once the car and our bodies were fueled, we set off to complete the journey to Karlstad.
When we finally arrived at Karlstad a couple of hours later, we were greeted by Catarina Naucler and Per-Oscar Hedman. This time when we attempted the charging station we did not encounter any misfortune; the blockchain network registered my user ID and the charging station I was connecting to, completed a successful charging session and executed the smart-contract to finalise the transaction.
All in all, it was a great experience and demonstrates one successful use case and the great potential for using the blockchain in the emobility sector.