Customers of Ovo Energy who own electric vehicles (EVs) “will never need to pay for a mile of driving again,” following the launch of new vehicle to grid (V2G) charging technology by the supplier.

The bold pledge was made by Ovo’s chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick at an event in London this morning (18 April), where the supplier unveiled its new V2G smart charger, alongside two other new products – a home energy storage device and a non-V2G smart charger.

The V2G charging technology, with a charge and discharge power rating of 6kW – will be available from this summer  and is touted as the first of its kind in the world.

It will enable EV drivers – initally only Nissan Leaf and e-NV200  owners – to participate in markets for balancing services to the grid, giving them the opportunity to be paid for excess power stored in their vehicles at peak times.

Describing the benefits of the technology to customers, Fitzpatrick said: “Our drivers will decide exactly how much of their battery power they use in energy trading.

“But because electricity at peak times is about five times more valuable than off peak, leaving just a fraction of that battery capacity as reserve power will mean customers using V2G will never need to pay for a mile of driving again.”

Like its new home battery and smart charger, Ovo’s V2G charger will interact with the company’s proprietary “intelligent energy” platform, VCharge.

This platform can connect with millions of distributed energy devices simultaneously and uses advanced machine intelligence to prompt decisions which will help maintain power system stability in a low carbon future.

Fitzpatrick explained: “VCharge provides a secure, scalable market place for power services like synthetic inertia, frequency response, voltage management and energy arbitrage.”

He also claimed it can “automatically stabilise the grid” by responding to device and network level data on supply and demand and acting to ease rising points of strain on the system.

The stability of the power system is coming under increasing pressure as volumes of intermittent renewable power grow and moves are made towards decarbonising the heat and transport sectors via electrification.

Ovo today set out its strategy to provide pioneering technologies which empower demand side solutions to this challenge.

“Until now demand side management just hasn’t worked because it has always relied on changing consumer behaviours,” said Fitzpatrick. “Today, because of the falling cost of storage and the power of connected devices, everything is changing.”

Today’s technology and strategy announcements from Ovo follow a year of fierce acquisitive activity from the supplier.

In 2017 it bought a range of companies with both software and hardware specialisms in the smart energy space, especially relating to EVs. This included Indra Renewable Technologies which now designs and manufactures Ovo’s V2G charger in the UK.

To demonstrate the new technology’s capabilities, Ovo will initially roll it out with 1,000 Nissan Leaf drivers as part of a two year trial. This partnership with Nissan was first revealed in in October 2017.

To date, Nissan’s Leaf and e-NV200 vehicles are the only pure electric models capable of V2G or “bi-directional” charging.

Following Ovo’s product showcase event today, Francisco Carranza, managing director of Nissan Energy, said he was proud to see the car manufacturer’s models “leading the way” on V2G deployment.

“We are pleased to be part of this world’s first launch of a widely available domestic vehicle-to-grid charger which could solve one of biggest challenges of integrating electric vehicles onto the grid,” he said.

“We are also reiterating our mission to offer customers free power for their electric vehicles. V2G will change the rules of the game making energy cheaper for everyone as we move towards decarbonising the grid.”

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