Charge Around Iceland – Epilogue

The team arrived safely in the front of Harpa conference centre on the Sunday before the conference after a rather smooth rider along the south coast of Iceland. The CHARGE team had gone into some lengthy discussion if the cars should be cleaned up and polished before arriving in front of Harpa in downtown Reykjavik where they would be on display for the guests arriving at the conference the following day. We decided to have the cars dirty as a proof that they have gone around some challenging roads in the Icelandic countryside, over mountains and on gravel on occasion. This deliberation turned out to be useless, Mother Nature stepped in and cleaned the cars with heavy rainfall along the southern coast.

When arriving in Reykjavik, Stuart sounded a bit apologetic. He knew that we had been waiting for him to come back and give a presentation on the big adventure he, his mother and Mark had participated in but it really turned out to be as uneventful as any road trip. Just like any other road trip, a goat invaded the car, they left the North of Iceland the morning before the first snow of winter and drove over a glacial river the same day as massive temporary repairs had been done on the bridge that had been washed away in floods the week before. And they did not exactly stay on the Ring Road around Iceland and only stopping for their vehicles to recharge. They went off the Ring Road on several occasions. One time for a shortcut over one of the most feared mountain roads in the East of Iceland but on other occasions to lengthen the total distance travelled by 400 kilometres.

Bespoke energy solution for the Nordics premiered at CHARGE

The unique energy usage of consumers in the Nordic region will be at the heart of geo’s presence at CHARGE.

The Icelandic backdrop provides an ideal opportunity for geo to unveil the findings of its recent pilot projects in Finland and Norway. These focused on the use of geo’s Cosy smart thermostat to help consumers better manage the heating in their homes, by not heating when nobody is home and, in part, by taking advantage of ‘Nordpool tariffs’. 

As a result, the company will be launching a bespoke designed version of Cosy for the Nordic region which will be on show on the geo stand at the event.

Attention will also be given to highlighting the three vital areas of home energy consumption:understand – making energy usage more visible; control – the solutions that put control back into consumer’s hands so they can make changes; and automate – the benefits of integrated energy management so that metering services, energy storage, heating, appliance controls, renewables and electric vehicles are automated.

The geo team will be on the stand to discuss the changes that have been brought about as a result of the electricity market moving from regulation to competition and the opportunities that this provides for the industry, and for consumers.

These changes and opportunities will also form part of the presentation to be given by Simon Anderson, Chief Strategy Officer at geo, when he speaks at CHARGE Energy Branding.

“The Nordic markets are at a hugely important point in the way that they use energy in the home,” Simon Anderson said. “Electricity is rapidly increasing in price and demand is growing, even as the grid infrastructure struggles to cope. The situation is ripe for new energy sources and new energy solutions that can better manage that demand, and lower costs for consumers. This will be a key focus for us at this important event in the geo calendar.”

 

ChargearoundIceland Part2: Made in the UK

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The CHARGEmobile filled up through the window. The power is generated from the river behind the car.

The road ahead would be the last leg where the electric cars could rely on the few-and-far-between fast-charging stations in rural Iceland. After staying the night at Blönduós in cottages at the banks of the river Blanda, they would venture on and stay the night in Húsavík which is the furthest north they will go on the trip. Húsavík is a detour off the ring-road around Iceland thus lengthening the total distance of the road-trip.

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This leg of the road-trip would take them over three mountain roads. Though these roads are not as dramatic as they sound (at least not for natives) they are a steep climb for the electric vehicles which would be put to the test.

The group picked up a fellow traveller and EV enthusiast, Michael Nevin who is the British Ambassador to Iceland. He got to drive the KIA from Varmahlíð to Akureyri.

It turns out that Stuart, Mark and Anita aren’t the only things Made in the UK participating in CHARGE around Iceland. Let the ambassador explain:

While the travellers renourished over lunch with the ambassador, the cars got their electrons at the last fast charging station for a long time.

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Akureyri got just a little bit cooler with the arrival of the CHARGE mobiles. The last ON fast charging station for a while.

From Akureyri they ventured off to the picturesque village of Húsavík which lies further up North in the bay of Skjálfandi. There they charged up at the mid-speed charge point provided by the municipality.

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The next leg of the journey will be a challenging one – they will venture up to higher altitude to a landscape thought to be so much out of this earth that NASA trained astronauts for the Apollo missions there to help them prepare for the moon.

CHARGE Awards Finalists

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The finalists for the World’s Best Energy Brands have been announced! After shortlisting and screening, 3-5 finalists remain in the 6 categories.

The finalists (in alphabetic order) in each category (in alphabetic order) are:

 

Challenger brands

  • Ovo energy
  • Public Power
  • Powershop
  • Octopus

Distribution brands

  • Elenia
  • Endesa
  • ESB networks

Established brands

  • Chugoku Electric Power
  • e.on
  • Edp
  • Enel
  • Fjordkraft

Green brands

  • Green Mountain Power
  • Greenpeace Energy
  • Natur Energie Plus
  • Nordic Green Energy
  • ON – Our Nature

Product brands

  • Green Energy Options (GEO)
  • Nissan
  • Tiko

Transmission brands

  • EirGrid
  • Fingrid
  • TenneT

Charging around Iceland in an Electric Vehicle

Electricity from renewable sources pours from the wall sockets of Icelandic homes. A vast majority of the country’s car fleet is, however, powered by fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are a viable option in Reykjavik, the nation’s capitals, where two-thirds of the population lives. But traveling around between the remote and spread out rural villages is a challenge no one has taken on.

One of the guests attending last year was Stuart McBain, an accountant from England who specializes in clients that have a sustainability focus. He was so thrilled with the conference that he stated: “I will be attending CHARGE for the rest of my life!”. Stuart has been an electric car owner for some years now and is quite passionate about the transformation from fossil fuels to electricity.

I will be attending CHARGE for the rest of my life!

His passion has literally driven him around the coastline of Britain in an electric car and he is planning to drive along the equator as well.

Stuart is a man of his words but wanted to give something back and deliver a presentation about his passion for renewable energy and sustainability. In a conversation with Dr. Fridrik Larsen, he kindly asked for a slot on the EV track. Since the demand for speaking slots is higher than supply, Fridrik thought that Stuart would have to earn his slot on stage: “Only if you put your money where your mouth is and drive around Iceland before the conference” (well… not really but it sounds kind of cool).

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Stuart will attempt to drive the ring-road around Iceland in an electric car accompanied by his 81-year-old mother and his friend Mark Gorecki. The ring road, or Highway 1, is only 1332 km long but there are many challenges for an electric vehicle. For one, there is no network or infrastructure of charge points and another is the number of mountains they will need to drive up along the way.

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One of the challenges is climbing the mountain roads of Highway 1.

 …there is no network or infrastructure of charge points

Stuart claims that he does not know the term Range Anxiety which is good since there are often more than 100 kilometers between villages along the way and a portion of the trip takes them through the deserted Martian landscape of the Icelandic highlands with an elevation of 600 meters above sea level and not a farm, village or survival shelter in sight for 170 kilometers. If the ring road is not too much of a challenge for them, they might go off the ring road to visit a village or two in a remote fjord.

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After driving around the country that was the inspiration for The Shire, they will attempt to drive along the volcanic desert landscape that was Tolkien’s inspiration for Mordor

If Stuart makes it back in time he will give a presentation at CHARGE and share his adventure as well as talk about his passion for sustainability and electric vehicles.

 

 

The power of City Branding

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Great cities are charged with energy. New York is so buzzing it never sleeps, Paris is intense yet laid back & cool and charged with romanticism while cities like Austin and Berlin are filled with creative energy. These cities have formed a lasting impression in our minds. We have often caught the vibe of those places without even visiting them. These cities have enjoyed a favourable word of mouth and popular culture has further helped shape them as brands.

The benefits of a strong city brand

There are namely three reasons (or segments) why cities (and countries for that matter) actively try to build a favourable image. They are all about creating an attraction for those segments.

1. Inhabitants

Cities are looking to retain and attract new inhabitants. Just like for companies, inhabitants with a strong sense of the image of the city they live in are happier. A city that has a strong, positive image becomes an attractive place to relocate to. Being a sought out city brand for inhabitants means that the talent pool grows.

A city that has a strong, positive image becomes an attractive place to relocate to

2. Tourists

A strong brand comes first in mind when it comes to deciding on consumption. A city that has a strong image pops ups first when people are thinking of taking a vacation. There are of course many things that exclude a certain city such as the occasion of the vacation or the time of year.

3. Companies

Companies, like most people, seek out to be in the company of their peers. If you are a start-up, your dream is Silicon Valley — If you want to produce a film, you go to Hollywood. It is not just about the hype, if you know that your peers are there, chances are that the infrastructure and knowledge are already there. And along with companies come jobs and jobs attract inhabitants.

Landmarks are like iconic logos

Building a powerful city brand is about being an attractive city in the eyes of the consumer or the stakeholder. It is not about creating an attraction. The Empire State Building and the Eiffel tower are great landmarks or icons for their cities but Paris and New York are about more than that — landmarks are kind of like logos — a logo is a graphical representation of a brand but there is more to it than the logo for great brands. Just like strong product brands — strong city brands appeal to people because of an emotional connection. The strongest city brands in the world are strong because they provide people with an intangible benefit, an experience.

The Empire State building and the Eiffel tower are great landmarks or icons for their cities but Paris and New York are about more than that.

Energy as an ingredient for the city brand

While every city has a certain energy to it or a vibe, not many cities have actively built their brands around energy in the literal sense. There are of course cities like Houston or Aberdeen that have become known for their oil industries but that image often has a hard time to translate outside the energy industry. We can see cities that are building an energy brand on a B2B level. Vasaa in Finland has a strong energy cluster and another example is Berlin. Berlin is not known as a powerhouse of energy sources but rather a powerhouse of creative energy sources. The image of Berlin as an energy brand builds on its image of creative energy and focuses on energy innovation.

We can see cities that are building an energy brand on a B2B level.

Energy imagery as part of the city brand has not yet been fully utilised. There are enormous opportunities for cities around the world to become strong energy brands. It can be based on novel or innovative ways of energy usage or it can use landmarks as icons for their energy brands. The Hoover Dam and the Niagara falls are great examples of iconic landmarks that have attracted millions of people for decades. But there is yet a city to emerge that uses those kinds of landmarks as an active ingredient that adds value to the city brand.

Energy can create even more value

When I set out to research the possibilities of branding energy, I wanted to do more than guide energy retailers into creating new logos and jingles or adopting a new colour. I wanted to see how energy can create more value than it already does by making an emotional connection to the consumer’s minds. This can be done by branding energy as a valuable ingredient for sectors outside the energy space. One of the areas this applies to are cities and countries as brands -as energy brands.

I wanted to see how energy can create more value than it already does.

That is why cities and places as energy brands have been a topic in at the CHARGE Energy Branding Conference agenda. To make energy more valuable we must look at ways to connect energy to other things than devices through a socket in the wall.

The 2017 CHARGE Awards

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Stedin from The Netherlands won the 2016 CHARGE Energy Branding Awards in the category of Transmission and Distribution

The CHARGE team is in full swing reaching out to the brands that were shortlisted by a panel of experts as the World’s Best Energy Brands. The panel consists of specialists in marketing and branding as well as energy professionals around the world. The panel has members in academia, energy companies, energy associations, energy innovation, advertising agencies and marketing consultancies.

We are reaching out to 90 brands in 6 categories of the best energy brands in the world. The categories are established brands, challenger brands, green brands, transmission brands, distribution brands and energy product brands.

The methodology derives from decades of academic research and studies in the fields of marketing and branding to determine how consumers perceive brands in general. To make the measurement more relevant to the energy space, knowledge from recent research on consumer perception of energy utilities was added to make the methodology more specific for the energy space. The methodology is also the basis for the Energy Branding Benchmarking Index (EBBI) which is used by power companies around the world to measure their energy brands.

We will reveal the finalists later this summer, each category can have up to five finalists. The finalists will be featured in the next edition of the best brands report. The report might also feature a selection of shortlisted brands that will not make it into the final selection.

The CHARGE Awards were a great success at the inaugural CHARGE Energy Branding Conference which was the world’s first conference to focus on branding in the energy space. Following the success of last year’s event- we have decided to expand the awards from three categories to six this year.

Neville Ravji – CEO Volterra Energy

Among CHARGE2017 keynote speakers is Neville Ravji, CEO of Volterra Neville Ravji Discount PowerEnergy in Houston, Texas. Neville has been working in the energy industry since 1997 and co-founded Tara Energy in 2002 when energy deregulation was beginning to take hold in Texas.

Neville has strived to bring energy to consumers through a bottom-up approach that involves understanding customer needs by creating macro and micro segments and then providing products that meet these needs and backing them with a fanatical focus on top-notch customer service. Under his leadership, Volterra Energy is successfully executing a multi-brand strategy aimed at various niches, with a special focus on the South Asian market. The company’s brands include Discount Power, Power Express and Volterra Energy.

The products and services offered by Volterra Energy have made them one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. “By its very nature, the product we sell has no distinguishable physical characteristics – so it is very important to be able to differentiate ourselves by creating intangible attributes that appeal to our customers. At Volterra, we have managed to do this very successfully, mainly because of a very experienced and talented team that understands the customer very well. I am looking forward to speaking to my industry peers at CHARGE and sharing our story.”

Dr. Fridrik Larsen chairman of CHARGE Energy Branding Conference said “Volterra Energy is among the few energy companies in the world that have done an outstanding job in identifying segments that they understand and can relate to. The conference is about how energy companies need to connect to the minds and hearts of consumers to be able to participate in the market today and Volterra and its brands are a great example of this.”