Lead the transition - OVO Group

Target

Optimise 5 million homes with flexible and low-carbon technologies

‘Optimise’ is defined as either: 

(i) supply of electricity incorporating a smart meter and provision of energy insights, or 

(ii) where a property has an electric vehicle, electric heating or cooling, or a micro-generation system:

  • supply of electricity incorporating a smart meter and provision of energy insights; 
  • management of electricity flows for grid balancing through Kaluza; or
  • sale of electricity back to the grid on behalf of a customer, for instance from a micro-generation system.

By achieving this target, OVO will enable nearly 20% of UK homes to actively participate in the transition to a zero carbon energy system.

OVO Approach

We need a whole system view across electricity, gas, heat, transport, industry and agriculture to successfully transition to a net zero carbon energy system. Our approach is to decarbonise power and electrify everything. The benefits of the electrification of heat, transport, and other sectors, with the transition to renewable energy, are profound: fewer carbon emissions and cleaner air for everyone. However, to achieve this, the current energy system needs to change to address the UK’s reliance on natural gas for heating, intermittency of renewables and a lack of infrastructure to support electric vehicles (EVs).

Balancing the grid

We created Kaluza to develop the technology that will enable the coordination and control of millions of connected devices, creating a fully flexible and decentralised energy system. By coordinating these devices at scale and in real time, the technology creates flexibility to help push demand away from peak times, saving customers money off their energy bills and reducing carbon emissions.

Our partnership with sonnen involves integrating Kaluza with sonnen’s home energy storage system to provide grid balancing services. Households will be able to import energy when costs are low and export it when prices are high, or when called upon by grid operators. The partnership, which is one in a series of upcoming collaborations between Kaluza and leading hardware manufacturers and service providers, signals a significant step forward for the energy industry as it transitions to a distributed, zero-carbon grid.

Electrifying heat

Currently 80% of UK homes rely on burning natural gas for heating; and heat from buildings and industrial processes represents more than a third of the UK’s carbon emissions. Shifting to electric heating is the most practical route to decarbonise heating systems. Intelligent electric heating, which allows customers to use cheap renewable electricity at off peak times and store it to release heat on demand whenever it’s needed, ensures that the costs are comparable to gas heating.

There are currently approximately 1.5m homes with electric storage heating in the UK, which equates to a combined peak capacity of 12GW and represents the largest grid-connected storage asset in the UK. The ability to use this capacity as a flexible energy source can lower the cost of electrification and enable more renewables onto the grid.

OVO is working to decarbonise heat through developing a series of partnerships. One such partnership is with Dimplex, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric heating, and focuses on maximising the in-built flexibility of electric storage heaters through integration with the Kaluza system. Another recent partnership with Sunamp was awarded £1.6m of grant funding from the Government’s Low Carbon Heating Technology Fund with the aim of showing that zero carbon electric heating can be commercially viable. The project combines OVO’s smart energy management platform with Sunamp’s groundbreaking UniQ Heat Batteries.
* VCHARGE (2017), Smart Electric Heat, Kickstarting a Revolution in Heat

Electrifying transport

Approximately 33% of an individual’s average carbon footprint in the UK comes from transport. If we are going to achieve zero carbon living we need to urgently shift to EVs for our transportation needs. We have focused much of the past two years on exploring the kinds of technologies that would be necessary to address industry challenges – such as range anxiety, charge point infrastructure installation, off-peak and urban charging, grid stability, and customer engagement – and to make mainstream EV adoption feasible.

We turn the supply of energy to POLAR 100% renewable through the provision of REGOs (run by BPChargemaster, with 7,000 chargepoints POLAR is the largest public EV charging network in the UK). We launched EV Everywhere, our first EV offering for customers, in August 2017, with 100% renewable household electricity and free membership to the POLAR network, offering a one-stop zero carbon solution at home and on the road.

Our investments in ChargedEV and Indra Renewable Technologies (an EV components and services supplier) enabled us to develop and launch the world’s first widely available domestic Vehicle-to-Grid charger in 2018. This provides grid balancing services (using our Kaluza technology platform) and automatically optimises charging patterns to take advantage of off-peak energy pricing.

Next Steps

We will continue to make investments in tech-enabled start-ups that are integral to the transition to a zero carbon grid.
We will further develop our software and intelligence platforms and our proprietary hardware to electrify transport, heat and micro generation.
OVO Labs which will be a resource within OVO Group for the assessment and development of new ideas and businesses that do not sit within OVO’s existing core businesses or priorities.  This will include incubator funding for ideas developed in-house and a fund for start ups aligned to OVO’s vision.

Sustainable development goals

Plan Zero

The climate crisis is the single most important issue of our time. We are at a turning point in history: we all have a shared responsibility to take action. Plan Zero is our initial endeavour to set out what OVO’s actions must be.
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