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World's Largest Battery and Rapid-Charge Network Launches to Accelerate EV Adoption

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London-based Pivot Power unveiled plans to build the world's first national network of grid-scale batteries and rapid-charge stations across the UK to accelerate electric vehicle (EV) adoption and to usher in low-carbon transport.

The ambitious £1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) initiative consists of 50-megawatt batteries constructed at 45 sites around the country and located near towns and major roads. The hubs will be installed at electricity sub-stations to help National Grid manage supply and demand.


Pivot Power aims to address the three major barriers to EV adoption identified by the country's Department for Transport: Availability of chargers, range of a charge, and cost. The company says it will offer mass charging at competitive rates, which will also help lower the costs of EV ownership.

Britain intends to ban all new gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles by 2040, so it must ramp up its charging infrastructure to keep pace with electric car adoption. More EVs on the road will also bring more strain on the nation's power grid.

"We expect the use of electric vehicles to grow rapidly," said Graeme Cooper, National Grid project director for electric vehicles, in a statement. "This innovative solution will help accelerate adoption by providing a network of rapid charging stations across the country enabling cars to charge quickly, efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible."

"It will also give the system operator more choice and flexibility for managing the demands in the day to day running of the network, and also help mass EV charging," Cooper added.

The 2-gigawatt battery network will also be the world's largest. The total capacity can store enough electricity to supply 235,000 average homes for a day, or about two thirds the power of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power plant, the company touted in a press release.

Pivot Power plans to have operational batteries at 10 sites in the next 18 months. A site on the south coast, pending planning approval, could be operational by the middle of 2019. These hubs can support various infrastructure, including public rapid charging stations, electric bus depots and bases for large transport fleets.

"We want to future-proof the UK's energy system and accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, helping the UK to clean up its air and meet climate targets," Pivot Power CEO Matt Allen said in a statement. "Big problems require big solutions, and we are moving fast to put in place a unique network to support a clean, affordable, secure energy system and embrace the low-carbon economy."

Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, is an advisor and early investor in Pivot Power.

"Renewables, batteries and electric vehicles are going to completely transform our power system, not just because they help clean up our horrible air quality and meet our climate targets, but because their costs are falling far faster than people realize," he stated.

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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