Interview with Friederike Kienitz, Vice President of Communications, Legal, External & Government Affairs at Nissan Europe, leaders of Intelligent Mobility for Energy Transition (IMET) initiative, established as part of the EIP-SCC’s Action Cluster for Sustainable Urban Mobility.
(Photo credits: Nissan)
This article kicks off a series of profile interviews showcasing the achievements of the IMET initiative of the Marketplace of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). In the coming months, interviews with key IMET members will be published reflecting on the key learnings and successes from the initiative.
As the pre-deployment phase of the initiative is reaching its end, it is time to take stock and assess the extent to which Intelligent Mobility technologies are being adopted in Europe and whether the right policy frameworks are in place to support them. It is important to carry out this assessment now to ensure that as the deployment of new technologies ramps up key learnings are applied to take help most in moving towards the energy transition.
How do you envision the future of mobility?
It’s critical to understand the two primary driving forces impacting the future of mobility - climate change and the digital transformation of our world. To put it simply, the need to have more efficient, less polluting and much smarter vehicles that use new powertrains like electric motors.
At Nissan, we believe that future is electric – a principle we have held for years – but EVs are only part of the bigger picture, we also have to consider the whole end-to-end lifecycle of the electrification of transport. EV batteries provide a range of opportunities to decarbonise the energy system: From simply storing energy to supplying it back to the energy system via Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) services or leveraging 2nd life EV batteries for energy storage. Optimising the integration of mobility and energy technologies will be crucial to delivering a more efficient, safer, and sustainable future. I am really excited about that future.
Why did Nissan launch IMET?
Nissan brought mass battery technology to the market and to Europe when it pioneered the Nissan LEAF ten years ago and our move into energy services was a world first by an OEM, moving beyond vehicles alone and creating an ecosystem with EVs at its heart. It’s been an incredible journey and we’ve learnt many things along the way. Today’s transport and energy challenges require a holistic approach. Growing demand for EVs present opportunities and challenges for Europe’s electricity network. Therefore, cross-industry collaboration and public-private partnerships to explore this ecosystem are critical. That's why initiatives like IMET are so important – convening a network of mobility, energy, and smart city stakeholders to discuss key challenges, opportunities and jointly develop complementary solutions.
What have been the benefits of bringing together such a diverse range of stakeholders on the topic?
We have accelerated time to market for emerging energy and mobility technologies. Thanks to cross-sector and public-private collaboration in a series of pilot projects, we have proven the marketability of these innovative solutions. These projects have also provided a unique opportunity to refine interoperability between the technologies to maximise their collective benefit.
A good example is GrowSmarter, a project in which Barcelona, Stockholm and Cologne demonstrate 12 smart city solutions in energy, infrastructure and transport. In Nissan Iberia’s headquarters in Barcelona, we set up an integrated network of EV charging stations, solar panels, 2nd-life EV batteries and V2G chargers combined with an e-car sharing service. Thus, we demonstrated the marketability and impact of these technologies on the urban environment.
Now we must leverage the momentum we’ve created, apply our learnings and accelerate the deployment of these solutions across Europe.
What is the secret of this successful collaboration?
The initiative is organized in two layers: National and Pan-European. That has been a real benefit in capturing experiences and expertise at all levels and facilitating cross-learnings.
National ambassadors across the continent focus on creating local innovation ecosystems to promote pilots such as the “Mobility Areas” in Milan which are testing solutions including smart charging, Vehicle-to-Grid, multimodality hubs, smart parking technologies, e-carsharing, and more.
Nissan and Ubiwhere provide a pan-European perspective to the group by coordinating all ambassadors and actions with a wider outreach such as our White Paper [on Intelligent Mobility for Energy Transition].
In addition, the EIP Smart Cities has given us the opportunity to strengthen links with local, national and European authorities, which has contributed to increased alignment between policies and market needs.
Last November, IMET published a White Paper on this topic. What can you tell me a bit about it?
The White Paper highlights the need for a fundamental rethink on how mobility and energy policies are designed and implemented. It provides a roadmap to guide authorities and governments through this transition. The paper was developed in a way to best capture and present the expertise and experience of more than 20 key actors in the smart cities realm on this topic. It was launched in Barcelona at the Smart Cities World Expo alongside key endorsers (Polis Network, Eurelectric and AVERE) and received substantial news coverage given its holistic, forward-looking perspective.
It is our hope that increasing awareness of the role of EVs as energy storage solutions will enable the region to unleash their full potential to support Europe’s clean energy transition.
What are the top actions governments and authorities should take to achieve all of this?
We need further integration of energy and transport policies to make both industries zero emissions. This entails working towards the decentralization of the energy system coupled with the full electrification of transport.
In this sense, public investment to deliver the required digital infrastructure and to help scale these technologies is critical. Public incentives are needed to increase the number of EVs on the streets and must be paired with efforts to efficiently roll-out smart charging infrastructure.
Which current climate policies have been effective?
Policies to achieve Europe’s climate targets have been set at the highest level through the Commission’s ‘Green Deal’ and Member States have recently agreed National Energy and Climate Plans which include helpful policies to increase renewable energy production, support EV demand and reduce industrial emissions. Even at the city and communities level, Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans to decarbonise transport and increase its efficiency are being agreed. So there is a lot to be positive about!
Additionally, COVID-19 recovery measures have committed to ensuring Europe’s “green future” by delivering additional support for EV, renewable energy production and energy efficiency technologies.
These are really positive steps to help ensure a truly long-lasting shift in consumer behavior. When these policies are combined, I am confident that intelligent mobility solutions will have a very meaningful impact on Europe’s Clean Energy Transition.
What are your hopes in this space for the next 5 years?
I hope that Europe will achieve a truly green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen a large increase in public support for environmental measures, so it is really critical that cities and communities deliver on this sentiment by further supporting EV adoption as well as championing the integration of energy and mobility frameworks. Increased public-private collaboration through initiatives like IMET will be critical to bringing to market these extraordinary innovations.
By adopting this forward-looking approach, Europe can position itself as a world leader in decarbonising mobility and energy systems. Lots more EVs on the road which are powered by clean energy which can be stored for self-consumption or help decarbonise the energy system is the vision – let’s make it happen!