OVO Energy and South Pole break new ground on carbon avoidance in the energy sector

28 July 2022

  • The fully fledged carbon avoidance methodology reviewed 18 products within OVO’s existing and future low carbon solution portfolio.
  • The methodology measures the carbon avoided over a product lifecycle when a customer switches from their existing technology (like a gas boiler) to a low-carbon solution (like an air source heat pump). 
  • EVs and heat pumps are the top two solutions that maximise carbon avoidance versus their traditional alternatives.
  • This open-source methodology will enable any company to ensure their products are aligned with their net zero commitments.
  • OVO launched Plan Zero, its sustainability strategy, in 2019 with the ambition of leading the transition to a zero carbon energy system.

Thursday 28th July London, 2022: OVO has created a new methodology to calculate the potential carbon emissions avoided through switching to its low carbon products and services.

Working with South Pole, a leading environmental consultancy and project developer, OVO has published a fully fledged methodology to calculate the positive environmental impact that adopting low carbon products, such as a smart thermostat or air source heat pumps, could have on customers’ carbon emission reductions. The development of the methodology is an important milestone for greener energy use and will act as a blueprint for other companies to develop integrated business strategies that align their net zero commitments with commercial priorities. 

The results show: the products with the biggest ‘carbon avoidance factors* were those where customers switched away from using fossil fuels to electricity, which could then be sourced by renewable energy solutions. The best performing products were:

  • Switching to an EV or heat pump has the potential of avoiding emitting up to 1.5 and 1.6 tonnes of carbon respectively** compared to their traditional alternative (e.g. driving an ICE vehicle or using a gas boiler for heating). 
  • This was followed by products that helped customers to reduce the gas consumption associated with existing heating systems, like installing insulation (saving between 0.8 and 1.2 tonnes of carbon) or behavioural efficiencies like shorter showers or turning down the thermostat by 1 degree Celsius (both saving around 0.2 tonnes of carbon).
  • Behavioural changes aimed at reducing energy consumption (like switching off appliances rather than leaving them on standby, or switching off lights) generally had a lower carbon avoidance potential. However these small changes at a massive scale could make a substantial difference.

The methodology reviewed 18 products from OVO’s existing and future low carbon solution product portfolio - from roof insulation to EV leasing to heat pumps, and compared the emissions from a business as usual scenario versus a low carbon solution. The data points and assumptions applied were developed collaboratively with experts from OVO’s product teams and South Pole and backed by independent studies where possible.

Through the ‘carbon avoidance factor’, OVO now has an understanding of how much carbon could be avoided by growing the share of low emission products and services across their portfolio. The methodology has been developed with the potential to be replicated and re-applied as and when new products enter the product portfolio. 

The global climate crisis has sparked a public outcry for governments and companies to take action for their impact on the climate. This pressure has ignited a flurry of commitments to decarbonize supply chains, sectors and ultimately households to reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. 

OVO launched Plan Zero, its sustainability strategy, in 2019 with a directive to reduce its emissions and become a net zero business. The pathway to get there means helping customers use energy more efficiently to heat and power their homes, whilst getting more of that energy to be sourced from renewable sources. The challenge is understanding which products, services and actions would enable this transition to happen.

OVO’s carbon avoidance methodology is not only an important step in the company's journey to net zero emissions, but also, when adopted by others, has the potential to advance the decarbonisation of energy and other sectors in the UK.  

Alex Thwaites, Head of Zero Carbon Living, OVO said:

“We’re committed to becoming a net zero carbon business. A crucial part of that commitment is bringing customers on the journey to net zero by providing products and services to help them reduce their carbon emissions. By quantifying the potential impact that low carbon solutions could have on our overall environmental impact we’re able to ensure Plan Zero remains integral to our commercial strategy. We hope to see more companies establish their own carbon avoidance strategies as we pave the way to a more sustainable future.”

Rob Ellinson, consultant at South Pole said: “We are thrilled to have worked alongside OVO to develop tangible solutions to support the much needed green transition of the energy sector. Working with frontrunner companies such as OVO and leveraging South Pole’s expertise in carbon accounting, lifecycle assessments and climate targets was the ideal combination to create this methodology. Such methodologies will hopefully help other companies to decarbonise. We look forward to seeing the results of our work as OVO begins to roll out and scale up their low-carbon solutions.”

Notes to editors

* The measurement of the carbon avoided over a product’s life cycle when a customer switches from their existing technology (e.g. gas boiler) to a low carbon solution (e.g. air source heat pump).

** Where we refer to carbon avoided throughout, we mean the carbon equivalent of the greenhouse gas tonnage avoided.

For more information please contact:

[email protected]

Please find the full report here.

About OVO Energy 

OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers.  The company has spent the last decade investing in the market leading technology, customer service operations and digital products to help members cut their carbon emissions. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living. OVO Energy has committed to being a net zero carbon business and achieve bold science-based carbon reduction targets by 2030, while helping members reduce their household emissions at the same time. 

About South Pole

South Pole, recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Social Enterprise, has been at the forefront of decarbonization since 2006. With its global climate solutions platform, South Pole develops and implements comprehensive strategies that turn climate action into long-term business opportunities for companies, governments and organisations around the world. 

South Pole is also a leading project developer, and has provided nearly 1,000 projects in over 50 countries with climate finance to reduce over a gigaton of CO2 emissions, and to provide social benefits to less privileged communities who are particularly vulnerable to climate change.  

For more information, visit www.southpole.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.