Start-up Sygensys is enhancing the performance and reliability of electric vehicle (EV) charging and vehicle to grid technology. Supported by Innovate UK EDGE, it aims to ensure the effective use of renewable energy sources through its demand management and energy storage systems.
“What we are trying to do is to ensure that the electricity grid remains reliable with the mass adoption of EVs,” says Andrew Larkins, CEO at Sygensys. “EVs are going to need a lot of energy to charge and are a potential threat to electricity grid reliability as a result. Having smart systems around them should enhance reliability.”
Larkins says the UK and other parts of the world are reaching a tipping point, with EVs rapidly becoming mainstream. The UK government plans to phase out internal combustion engines by 2030-2035, which means the impact on the electrical grid will increase substantially over the next 10-15 years.
The government is also working to its 2050 Net Zero target, which involves phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable resources such as solar and wind. This will increase the complexity of grid management, making it even more important that the grid can meet the increased demand. It also needs to be robust enough to withstand equipment failure, natural disasters or human action, such as a cyber attack.
Numerous organisations are working on the transition to EVs, but Larkins says there needs to be a drive to boost grid resilience and reliability to cope with the increased demand. Some organisations are focusing on this area, but Larkins says they typically look at elements of the problem, whereas Sygensys is taking a whole systems approach. The start-up plans to use bi-directional power flow from EVs and battery energy storage systems to balance electricity supply and demand on public grids and local microgrids.
Sygensys charges ahead with strategic input from Innovate UK EDGE
In February 2021, Innovate UK Innovation and Growth Specialist Christopher Buckland started working with Sygensys. He has supported Larkins with the business model and strategy development, including coaching on strategies for securing private investment and for structuring sweat equity/founder share incentive schemes. He has helped identify appropriate Innovate UK grants and researched other public funding streams.
As a result of the partnership, Sygensys successfully applied for £59,186 in Innovate UK funding – first a £44,738 Innovation in Time Dissemination and Application grant and then a Global Cooperation Feasibility Studies grant worth £14,458. Since working with Innovate UK EDGE, Sygensys has also secured a £300,000 R&D contract with National Grid ESO and the UK Atomic Energy Authority and has a healthy contract R&D pipeline. Further, Sygensys has just been awarded £245,000 to work with the Satellite Applications Catapult on a £499,000 project to improve grid resilience.
A substantial amount of R&D work is underway. Sygensys secured a place on the Climate Innovation Platform Accelerator and is working in partnership with numerous UK universities on a range of projects related to electric grid resilience. The company is also working with other government organisations, including the National Physical Laboratory and Energy Systems Catapult. Research outputs from Sygensys have been used by Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in a recent consultation.
Larkins says Innovate UK EDGE support has been of significant benefit, in terms of achieving funding, networking and general business advice. “It’s been really helpful having someone I can talk to and trust to provide good, truly independent advice. I’ve been able to present ideas and get feedback, including on areas such as business strategy. They’ve helped with funding and staffing and provided an introduction to a specialist who has made a significant impact on the business.”
Going forward, Sygensys is preparing applications to the European Space Agency and Energy Networks Association and is involved in discussions with worldwide grid operators for collaborative R&D work.