OVO’s new plans for renewables

29 October 2020 | Matt Mostyn

There are some exciting changes happening here at OVO. From 1 October 2020 we stepped up our commitment to renewables, by offering all our members 100% renewable electricity at no extra cost.

The move from 50% to 100% renewable electricity is part of our number one goal: zero carbon living. And by moving to 100% renewable electricity, we could save around 466,706 tonnes of carbon emissions per year1. That's as good for the planet as taking around 177,958 diesel cars off the road for a year2.

The future for renewable energy

We launched in 2009 to make energy cheaper, greener, and simpler. Since then we’ve welcomed over a million members, planted a million trees, and set our sights on helping save the planet. Which is no mean feat!

As we continue building an energy system fit for the future, it’s time to move up a gear. Right now we’re busily developing solutions for a new type of energy system – from greening up the grid, to improving grid flexibility, to creating new technologies that change the way we use energy. Here’s a rundown of some of what we’ve done so far, and how we’re turbo-charging our commitment to renewable energy.

Our renewable past

While 100% renewable electricity is a new landmark for our fuel mix, we’ve been cutting carbon and going full steam ahead with green energy for quite some time now. 

In 2015 we were the first mainstream supplier to cut coal (as well as nuclear) from our fuel mix. That move came as a response to the growing problem of coal’s role in climate change.

 We completely removed coal from our fuel mix by purchasing certificates showing that any non-renewable electricity we sold came from natural gas – which is cleaner and lower carbon than coal-fired power.

Back in 2015 we also ruled out nuclear as a power source. While nuclear is less carbon-intensive than other fossil fuel alternatives, there’s no safe, reliable way to deal with the radioactive waste that nuclear plants leave behind. 

Our move to 100% renewable electricity is the next vital step. It’s a brand new chapter at OVO, as we lead the charge towards a zero carbon future with clean, affordable energy for everyone.

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Optimising the grid

The UK’s national electricity network (or grid) is our energy network. It’s the system that connects millions of homes to thermal power stations and renewable energy sources. And it gives us the power we need to do everything from brew an ad-break cuppa to Zoom call from our home-offices. 

But because green energy is intermittent, and because adding more renewables to the grid is complicated, the grid needs to be even more flexible.

For a truly flexible and more balanced grid, we need more control over energy demand, to better match it with supply. And that’s where innovative creations like Kaluza and V2G come in.

Kaluza and V2G – changing the way we do energy

We created Kaluza to help coordinate and control millions of connected devices (such as electric vehicles), for a more flexible and decentralised energy system. Essentially it pushes demand away from peak times, to help lower both energy bills and carbon emissions.

Households can import energy when costs are low and export it when prices are high, or when called upon by grid operators. It’s a major step forward for the energy industry as we transition to a distributed, zero-carbon grid.

Vehicle to grid’ technology, also referred to as 'V2G' helps feed energy stored in electric vehicles back into the grid to help supply energy at times of peak demand. This game-changing technology plays an important part in ‘balancing’ the national electricity network – and it helps to redistribute our energy needs around the country, improving how we produce, supply and use energy

These are just two of the innovations that will change the way we use energy in the future. Stay tuned for more to come!

Increasing our support for solar and wind generators

wind turbines and solar panels

Up to now, all of our renewable electricity has been sourced through certificates called Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (or REGOs). Essentially, they prove that electricity comes from a renewable source.

We buy REGOs to guarantee that one unit of renewable electricity has been added to the UK grid for every unit of renewable electricity that we sell.

Our REGOs come from UK generators like wind farms, solar parks and hydroelectric sources. By doing this, we’re supporting renewable generators in the UK – which is something we can all be proud of.

But the move to a clean future needs more than renewable energy certificates. We’ll continue to use REGOs purchased only from UK generators. But in the near future, we’ll go much further. We plan to source more renewable energy directly from solar and wind generators, supporting the UK renewable industry and helping drive down costs. 

A power purchase agreement or PPA is one potential solution. It’s a contract between a company generating electricity and an energy supplier, and it lets us buy power directly from generators.

The good thing about this arrangement is that it gives generators long-term certainty that they’ll be able to sell the electricity they generate at a certain price.  

We want to support the UK renewable industry and help drive down costs – so we’re exploring more ways to source renewable energy directly from solar and wind generators.

To find out all you need to know about wind energy, read our comprehensive blog post.  

Just the beginning...

Having an energy system that’s fully renewable and fit to tackle the climate crisis is well and truly on our radar. A zero carbon energy system is within reach. Now it’s time to do the work to get us there. 

We look forward to announcing more exciting developments in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, if you'd like to join us on our journey to a zero carbon future, explore our 100% renewable energy plans and switch to OVO today.

1 We calculated this by first calculating the total carbon emissions that would be caused from our forecasted supply of electricity and gas from 1st October, at 50% renewable electricity as standard. We then calculated how much carbon would be released by the same amount of energy where 100% of the electricity was renewable (renewable electricity is much less carbon intensive). The difference between these is the potential carbon saving.

2The average diesel car emits 0.17336 kg carbon per km driven (based on BEIS emission factor [<>]). So 466,706,000kg divided by 0.17336 = 269,212,044km. Since the average UK car drives 9,400 miles (15,127.83km) a yea[r], we divided 269,212,044km by 15,127.83 km = 177,958 cars taken off the road for a year.

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