In London yesterday, OVO Energy took to the stage and dropped not one new product but four product bombshells that are aimed at creating a new energy ecosystem that is accessible to residential energy consumers.
A Vehicle-to-Grid Charger for the Masses
The flagship of the new offerings is undoubtedly the OVO Vehicle-to-Grid Charger that includes 6kW bi-directional functionality, meaning vehicles can charge up their internal batteries from the grid or discharge their power to the grid, as needed.
OVO CEO and Founder Stephen Fitzpatrick said of OVO’s new products:
“Renewable energy and electric vehicles are perfect partners for the 21st Century. Today we’re launching the world’s first widely available vehicle-to-grid charger, helping to solve one of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector. We’re enabling thousands of EV batteries to help balance the grid in times of peak demand, more renewable energy to come onto the system, and households to reduce their electricity bills.”
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) functionality has the potential to allow electric vehicle (EV) drivers to actively participate in — and financially benefit from — balancing the load on the grid. As more and more renewables are added to the grid, the need for grid-scale storage will continue to grow.
Utilizing the significant energy storage potential contained in the millions of EVs that will be sold just this year as an aggregate block of storage from which power can be pushed or pulled could play a critical role in keeping the grid in balance. EV owners are compensated for their flexibility and energy pushed back to the grid, “earning revenues from energy arbitrage and new flexibility services.”
The new V2G charger was designed in partnership with Nissan and is available exclusively to Nissan LEAF owners at this time. It will be rolled out in the summer of 2018 to 1,000 Nissan LEAF owners as part of a two-year trial that is being executed with co-funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
Head over to the official OVO Energy press release for all the fun details and tech specs on the new unit.
7kW Smart Charger
OVO took the opportunity to roll out a 7kW Smart Charger that is anything but a normal charger. It’s almost unfortunate that it was rolled out in parallel to the admittedly more groundbreaking, V2G charger as the new OVO Smart Charger truly is smart.
OVO dove head first into connected charging with its product line and the Smart Charger takes full advantage of that connectivity, bringing EV drivers the capability to charge their vehicles when electricity is cheap or coming from the cleanest sources. This type of connected “demand response” capability allows drivers to lower the cost of their charging and slash their carbon footprint at the same time.
In addition to intelligently pulling down power when it makes the most sense, the new Smart Charger can throttle charging all the way down to zero to minimize strain on the grid, providing new flexibility services to utilities participating in the program.
One Ring to Rule Them All
Underpinning these new products and, indeed, binding them together, is the VCharge AI platform that leverages AI-based advanced scheduling to continuously balance both the EV’s battery life and the benefit it provides to the grid in realtime. Translated, VCharge takes on the heavy lifting going on behind the scenes that is required to manage the electricity flowing in and out of the EV via an intuitive, modern smartphone app.
The app gives users an intelligent way to set charging schedule with minimum charge levels, state-of-charge monitoring, and the capability to override the default settings in the event of an upcoming road trip, for example.
Outside of the home, VCharge brings together all of the distributed flexible electrical devices — like electric vehicles — into an aggregate that it can manage as a Virtual Power Plant. VCharge looks at this data alongside real-time data from utilities about changes in supply and demand, and then it adapts accordingly.
VCharge is already cranking away at a handful of pilot projects including a few in the Scottish islands of Mull and Orkney.
The beauty of VCharge is the simplicity of the user interface that it presents to consumers — a “set it and forget it” ease of use — while at the same time crunching through masses of data from utilities on the backend to offer the invaluable service of keeping the grid humming along smoothly. It’s such a beautiful solution that one would almost expect flowers to grow out of the top of the chargers — but as that isn’t possible, they send you a paycheck instead.
Residential Energy Storage
OVO Energy used the spotlight to roll out its first entry in the residential energy storage market as well — its OVO Home Energy Storage product. It’s basically a battery for your home that, along with the custom-built control and communications unit that it comes with, allows homeowners to store up and discharge electricity as they see fit.
Residential energy storage can be used to store up power when its cheap for use later on when it’s expensive or just to save a few bucks essentially buying and selling power to the grid. The grid-connected functionality of OVO Energy’s Home Energy Storage unit is all managed by the same VCharge backbone
OVO Energy’s offering into the category comes in a few different configurations ranging from 4.2 kWh to 10 kWh in storage capacity, with a 5 kW continuous discharge rating or up to 10 kW peak. Much like Tesla’s Powerwall, OVO Energy’s offering can be installed outdoors or indoors and clearly shares some of the same design aesthetics as Tesla’s first-generation Powerwall.
The OVO Energy team must have had too much coffee for the last few years, as it also launched a product that sounds like it could just as easily be a new superhero — the Heat Dynamo. OVO Energy says of the device: “The OVO Heat Dynamo is an ultra-low latency, IoT-connected, multi-purpose load switch that can be retrofitted to an electric storage heater to give it smart controls.”
Think about it like the ability to add a brain to “dumb” electric storage heaters. Home heating with electricity is one of the main power hogs in a typical household and OVO Energy developed this product to drive improvements in energy efficiency with home heaters.
In addition to the capability to bolt a brain onto existing electric storage heaters, OVO is also working directly with manufacturers of electric storage heaters to build its VCharge intelligence directly into them. The first appliances with this capability baked in will be launched later in 2018.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
OVO Energy’s new products are revolutionary on paper but now it has to deliver on the bold promises that have been made. Coming into the space with a partner like Nissan and support from Innovate UK lends credibility to the claims, but ultimately, these solutions need to scale beyond mear pilots to truly affect change.
I’m hopeful and will be keeping an eye out for more news from OVO. Until then, check out the fun but brief video below from the announcement.
Today we're excited to launch a range of products that will help solve future energy challenges, using AI, ground-breaking energy technology and years of experience working with customers. #FutureOfEnergy https://t.co/NTBu65rR85 pic.twitter.com/yObl0uPHyA
— OVO Energy (@OVOEnergy) April 18, 2018
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