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OVO’s ‘Plan Zero’: Eliminate home carbon emissions and fit five million homes with smart energy tech

Image: OVO.

Image: OVO.

OVO Energy has committed to eliminating its customer’s household emissions and fit five million homes with flexible, clean energy technologies as part of a wide-ranging carbon-cutting initiative dubbed ‘Plan Zero’.

OVO announced the new initiative at an event held at London’s Tate Modern museum, which was previously the Bankside Power Station. The event, attended by Current±, saw chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick share the stage with carbon academic Mike Berners-Lee.

In establishing its Plan Zero, OVO said it was setting out its vision for the forthcoming decade, ultimately aiming to help customers eliminate their household emissions by 2030.

It sets out six commitments for the supplier to reach by the end of the next decade, namely;

  • -Help customers halve their carbon footprint;
  • -Achieve net zero carbon operations itself, underpinned through the adoption of science-based targets for its buildings and vehicle fleet;
  • -Optimise five million homes in the UK with flexible, low carbon technologies such as smart meters and smart EV chargers;
  • -Increase its advocacy operation and campaign more vocally on climate issues;
  • -Encourage its staff to adhere to the plan by ranking among the UK’s best places to work, and;
  • -Becoming one of the UK’s most trusted companies, a target to be measured using its net promoter score.

Fitzpatrick said it was clear that government and business need to “lead the way” when it comes to climate action, and Plan Zero was his company’s way of ensuring it plays its part.

“Starting now, we’re going to be measuring ourselves not by how much energy we sell but by how much we move the dial on carbon. We’re mobilising all our customers to form a zero carbon community and providing them with tools and services they need to help them eliminate the carbon emissions from their homes.

"Putting the needs of customers, employees, community and the planet first undeniably creates a platform for long term commercial success. It is with this knowledge that we begin our next chapter at OVO, continuing our mission to power human progress through clean, affordable energy for everyone."

Inside Plan Zero

Perhaps the most ambitious of OVO’s proposals is the intent to optimise five million homes with flexible and low carbon technologies over the forthcoming decade. This plan, OVO said, would enable nearly one-fifth of all the country’s homes to “actively participate” in the energy transition.

OVO is counting a number of technologies within this metric. It intends to provide consumers with smart meters – as it is obliged to under the smart meter rollout programme – but also take a hands-on roll in the management of electricity flow for grid balancing where other technologies, such as EV chargers or micro-generation systems, are installed.

This also includes the sale of electricity back to the grid on behalf of a consumer, essentially a nod to the looming Smart Export Guarantee requirement.

Internally, this means OVO has embraced low carbon technologies itself. More than 50 solar panels provide 15.12kWp of energy for its new office in West London, and the rest of its energy demand is met using a renewable energy tariff. It’s certified to BREEAM Excellent and SKA Gold standards, and all materials used in the refurbishment have used sustainability certifications.

It is also looking to enhance the ways in which it supports new ideas and technologies, both internally and otherwise. OVO Incubate! has been launched as an incubator to develop in-house ideas from the concept stage, while the OVO X Fund is to investment in start-ups aligned to the supplier’s vision.

Policy demands

Building on its intent to ramp up its clean energy advocacy, the suppliers has included a list of “next steps” that it has isolated as being pivotal for the transition to take place. It is calling for policies that will better incentivise customers to adopt flexible residential energy technologies, which should include new price signals in the energy market – such as network charges – which will rewards customers for using their energy more flexibly.

Crucially it is calling on the government to ramp up its ambition for electric vehicles. It wants the government to bring forward its planned phase out of ICE vehicle sales to 2030, and measures to promote the installation of an EV charge point on every street.

It has also set its sights on the rollout of half-hourly settlement in order to reduce operational costs and facilitate the transition to a smarter energy system.

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