Energy minister Claire Perry has praised Ovo Energy’s “innovative” electric vehicle (EV) products, which could see “millions” of people  sell energy back to the grid.

Ovo is one of a handful of companies to make use of smart meters to offer products such as rewarding customers for charging their electric vehicles at off-peak times, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.

Smart meters help customers save money by using energy during times when there is less demand on the grid. It is thought that smart energy innovations, including smart tariffs, could save the UK as much as £40 billion between now and 2050.

BEIS reports that smart charging and vehicle to grid charging could be a “cornerstone” of the way energy is used in the UK, with more than eight million people considering buying or leasing an electric vehicle in the next five years.

The technology will enable customers to choose to use energy at the cheapest times and make money by selling energy from their vehicle’s battery at times when it is most in demand. This will support the growth of renewable energy generation in the UK, BEIS said.

Smart meters also support OVO’s intelligent platform VCharge, which is enabling residential appliances such as electric vehicles, electric heaters and in-home batteries to help balance the grid and reduce energy costs.

In April Ovo chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick made the bold pledge that Ovo customers who own EVs “will never need to pay for a mile of driving again,” following the launch of vehicle to grid (V2G) charging technology by the supplier.

Perry said: “More than 11 million meters are already empowering consumers to reap the rewards of a smarter energy system, putting homes and small businesses on the road to a smarter future.

“Smart meters will be the cornerstone of a cleaner, flexible and efficient energy system, saving the country tens of billions of pounds.

“New innovative products and tariffs like these will put consumers in the fast lane when it comes to control of their energy use, saving and even making them money when using their electric vehicles.”

Fitzpatrick CEO and founder of OVO, said it was “encouraging” to see the minister visit the company at its headquarters in Bristol yesterday (16 August).

He said: “Getting the smart meter rollout right should be the top priority for the government and the energy sector in the UK right now.

“The smart meter rollout is a huge and complicated programme. However, there’s no question it needs to be done as we can’t build the energy system of the future unless we know accurately how much energy people are using and when.

“OVO is using technology like electric vehicles, smart electric heat and batteries to help lower energy bills for consumers and enable us to use more renewable energy. None of this technology will work without smart metering.

“We welcome the government’s recent efforts to improve the delivery of smart meters but there is still more work to do.”

More than 500,000 households in the south west have already had a smart meter installed and those still without one could save a collective £50 million if they had a smart meter installed, BEIS highlighted.

The department said if every household in Great Britain got a smart meter, the energy saved could power every household in Exeter, Plymouth and Swindon for two years.

Perry also visited the new nuclear site Hinkley Point C yesterday, which BEIS said is “poised to make a major contribution” to the UK’s move to reduce carbon emissions through clean energy production.

Hinkley Point C “remains on track” to meet its next major milestone, the 2019 nuclear concrete construction target of completing the foundations for the first reactor, BEIS said.

Energy production is expected to start in 2025.

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