A new Plan Zero: 2022 and beyond

08 September 2022 | OVO Energy

Back in 2019, we launched Plan Zero – our sustainability strategy to tackle the biggest issue of our time – the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, climate change isn’t the only issue the world has faced over the last 3 years. Through a global pandemic, and now a cost of living crisis driven by soaring energy prices, the world has changed.

It’s never been more important to do the right thing when it comes to supporting our customers and reaching net zero. That’s why we’ve taken this chance to strengthen Plan Zero’s commitment to both.

What’s changed?

From day one, we committed to following the latest scientific guidance on reaching net zero. That guidance has now changed. And our carbon reduction target is now more ambitious.

The Science Based Target initiative – the gold standard when it comes to sustainability – has advised that companies shouldn’t offset more than 10% of their total carbon footprint to reach net zero. Originally, we aimed to reach net zero by 2030 – by cutting our carbon emissions by 60%, and carbon offsetting the remaining 40%.

Now, we’re aiming to reach net zero by 2035 – by cutting our carbon emissions by 90%, and only offsetting 10% of emissions we can’t avoid or reduce. It’ll take a monumental effort, but we know it’s the right thing to do.

We’re still aiming to cut 60% of our carbon emissions by 2030, just like before. The difference is, now, we won’t rely on offsetting as much – and we’ll go on to cut more carbon for a truer net zero.

Here’s how we’re going to hit these ambitious carbon reduction targets.

1. Cutting our carbon emissions

Our carbon emissions come in two parts – from our offices and our fleet of vehicles, and from the energy we sell to our customers. Plan Zero tackles both.

Emissions from our fleet of vehicles and offices are only a small part of our carbon reduction story. But we’re working at speed to switch to a 100% electric vehicle fleet charged with renewable power. And we’re switching our buildings to 100% renewable energy tariffs, while making them more energy efficient. We’ll achieve all this by 2025.

Emissions from the energy we sell are the biggest part of our carbon reduction target. Gas alone counts for 66% of our carbon emissions, and electricity about 33%. So to reach net zero, we need to fundamentally change how our customers use energy.

2. Changing the way our customers use energy

Technology is playing a huge role in this. From smart thermostats and insulation to improve energy efficiency, to EV chargers and heat pumps to decarbonise transport and heating. Each one we install for our customers helps to reduce carbon emissions.

Smart meters are also a big part of Plan Zero, since they’ll help our customers to track and better understand their energy use. And if everyone in the UK had one, we’d have a more flexible, sustainable energy grid. This is because smart meters can help us to see how much energy is needed at any one time – helping us to rely less on dirty fossil fuels.

In the longer term, we want to help our customers switch from gas heating to electric heating by installing things like heat pumps. The technology is ready, so we’re pushing to make it available to more homes. At the same time, we’ll continue campaigning to change how electricity is priced, to make heat pumps more affordable.

3. Supporting our customers

​​The energy crisis hadn’t begun when we launched Plan Zero in 2019. Now, it’s never been more important to support those who need us most. And make sure we don’t leave anyone behind on the journey to net zero.

In light of this, we’ve just announced our £50 million Customer Support Package – a broad range of measures to support those with a real and immediate need this winter. This includes dedicated support from a specialist team for our customers in the most financial difficulty and those in financial difficulty for the first time.

If you're worried about your energy bills or struggling financially, please get in touch with us. There are lots of ways we can support you. We’ve helped lots of people in similar situations and we can support you too.

Inside Plan Zero, we’ve focussed on helping our customers use energy more efficiently, which can save them money too. One of the ways we’ll do this is by encouraging all our customers to use our free energy tracker, where they can get insights into their energy use, and find ways to cut carbon, and their bills.

4. Creating a leading place to work for our people

We know that everything we’re trying to achieve in Plan Zero will come from our people here at OVO. That’s why our ultimate goal is to be a leading place to work in the UK – a place where all our brilliant people can belong and thrive.

At OVO, one of the ways we listen to our people is through surveys – so we can understand what motivates them and how they feel about working here. We want to improve our overall employee engagement survey score. As well as boost our Plan Zero survey engagement score, which will mean everyone knows how they can play their part in it.

We’re always investing in our people and their personal development. A big part of this is boosting their green skills. From heat pump installers to Zero Carbon Living Advisors, we're creating roles for the future that have never existed before. Not just to help us deliver Plan Zero, but also because we want to tackle the UK-wide green skills gap.

Changes to green energy and tree planting from 1 October

The new Plan Zero is all about making the biggest impact we possibly can, in the right way. To follow this lead, we’re making some changes to how we offer green energy and plant trees. These changes won’t affect your energy prices or your supply with us.

From 1 October, 100% renewable electricity will only be available to customers with a smart meter1. Getting a free smart meter is the simplest way you can help to create a greener energy system – book your appointment online today.

Just like when it comes to forecasting the weather, technology gives us the upper hand with energy too. Smart meters make it easier to forecast how much energy the country will need at any moment in time. If we know exactly how much, then the UK won’t have to rely as much on dirty fossil fuels as a backup – which is what happens now.

We’re also changing how we go about planting trees. We’re moving from planting one tree a year for every customer, to planting 1 million trees every year. It’s our Planting Promise. Our goals remain the same – to create greener spaces across the UK with the support of our partners at The Woodland Trust and The Conservation Volunteers. And to plant the right tree in the right place, using native species of trees that benefit biodiversity.

This is just the beginning

We’ve already started turning our new Plan Zero strategy into a net zero reality. For more details about our targets and updates on how we’re getting along, head to the Plan Zero website. We look forward to you joining us on the journey to net zero.

Sources and references:

1 From 1 October 2022, 100% renewable electricity is only available to members who currently have an electricity smart meter or who have a smart meter installed. To book a smart meter installation or for more information, head here. Not all members may be able to have a smart meter installed. Terms and eligibility criteria apply, please see here for details.  If you are on a fixed contract you will still receive 100% renewable energy until the end of your contract. The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates, also known as REGOs). Get more details on REGOs and how these work here. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable power generators in the UK.