As part of the next phase of its vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project Sciurus, OVO Energy will soon begin installing its chargers with residential customers.


At first OVO’s V2G charger will only be available to Nissan LEAF drivers that participate in the Innovate UK-funded pilot, which includes Cenex among its partners.

With a 6kW charge and discharge power rating, the smart bidirectional device is designed to give drivers the option to discharge excess electricity from their cars back to the electricity grid.

Nissan LEAF drivers in the project can mitigate the cost of electricity to charge their cars by selling energy back to the grid.

OVO’s agreement with Nissan guarantees warranty coverage for LEAF models with either a 30kWh or 40kWh capacity. “We are working hard to ensure V2G is available to our customers with lower battery capacities,” says Tom Pakenham, OVO’s electric vehicle (EV) director.

In Sciurus OVO will provide access to domestic energy customers and is also providing its aggregation platform, VCharge, to support the grid and manage charging and discharging schedules.

“The customer needs to be at the centre of the V2G proposition so it’s vital to have close collaboration between OVO and Nissan on this, we need to remember the customer has relationships with both companies for their energy and driving needs,” says Pakenham.


Commercial proposition

The first iteration of OVO’s customer offer is based on a p/kWh payment for every unit of energy exported to the grid, after any household consumption has been netted off.

Pakenham says: “We have modelled various types of potential customer behaviour and this shows us that the most engaged and available customers will be able to save up to around £305 a year on their energy bills. This is broadly equivalent to the cost of charging required to satisfy an average annual mileage in the UK.”

The ways V2G can earn revenue and how different customers interact with V2G will develop over time, strengthening the benefits for customers.

He adds: “This will inform the next commercial test for V2G which is what price the V2G chargers need to be in order to give customers a reasonable payback period. For the purposes of the trial we will be giving away the chargers for free, but this is unlikely to be the business model in the future as it is a full subsidy from Innovate UK and the project at the moment.”

Ultimately V2G is going to be a commercial service OVO will offer to its customers. “We want to have regular dialogue with the trial participants to ensure we’re offering the best service we can and learn from their feedback to improve all elements of the V2G charger, the accompanying app and any other part of the service,” says Pakenham.

Credit: Nissan

With its VCharge virtual power plant (VPP) technology OVO is developing a platform to solve a problem for the energy-mobility ecosystem, focusing on residential.

Pakenham acknowledges that while the commercial sector is easier to navigate, it’s crowded with bigger assets and VPPs already in the space. “In our case it’s more about the residential space with distributed and smaller loads.” OVO will also campaign for greater flexibility frameworks that facilitate participation of smaller distributed behind-the-meter loads.

VCharge can offer benefits to consumers by making their appliances smarter, to help balance the grid’s supply and demand by switching these devices on and off in an intelligent manner.

This can help apply the grid with additional means to provide electricity at a lower cost for consumers. The system as a whole, distribution network operators – the wires utilities – and grid operators will benefit as there is more means of procuring flexibility on the market.


Storage in the home as well as on wheels

OVO also sees a role for residential batteries, launching a home energy storage system earlier in the year to help reduce household electricity bills and balance the grid. The battery has a custom built control and communications unit and will dynamically and proactively manage energy and power use.

“It will also enable everyone to store, use and sell back electricity, whether or not they produce it themselves. We are also working with other battery manufacturers to bring their hardware to market and offer it up to the grid via VCharge as flexible load,” says Pakenham.

To OVO, residential storage and electric vehicle smart chargers are the first step in building a distributed energy system of the future, which is customer-centric that evolves around households and their connected energy storage devices.