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Q&A about the Kaluza app, time of use tariffs and vehicle to grid chargers - Kaluza AMA


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How much CO2 emissions have been prevented by the V2G trial?

Will OVO offer time of use tariffs similar to Octopus?

What is likely to be the future of the V2G chargers once the trial has ended and will there be the option to control them without the Kaluza platform? (Will we have direct control over them if we changed supplier for example)

Is it possible for Ovo to be more transparent (include KWh figures) with export payments? 

Is an API or local access via MQTT (or some other protocol) going to happen for V2G and smart charger?  (Also useful for errors and faults)

Is Kaluza planning an integrated energy system for domestic users (bringing solar, V2G / V2H, battery storage, heat pumps, heating etc together on one platform) with integration with existing hardware and tariffs that make financial sense for consumers to want?

Will there be an IOS / Android app for Kaluza? 

Will it be possible to have V2G and Smart charger (or multiple smart chargers) controlled from a single account?

How does Kaluza / OVO make profit from V2G and is this commercially viable once the trial has ended?

Is OVO working with DNO’s and Government to facilitate mass roll out of V2G in the future? (It seems currently there is a very mixed response from different DNO’s)


Thank you for trying to change the future for the better.

Paul

 

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 23 October 2020, 16:54

This is a huge one, thanks for posting this @ArundaleP - our reply from Josh, the Kaluza app product manager:

 

Carbon


I don't have the data available from the beginning of the trial, but since the beginning of 2020, the 322 V2Gs connected to the platform saved 16.41 tonnes of CO₂ by time shifting charging.

Time of use tariffs


Within OVO we constantly review our tariffs in relation to the competition and market trends. Time of use & type of use tariffs are an area of investigation for OVO at the moment but there is no timeline for the launch of a commercial proposition yet. Watch this space!


Is it possible for OVO to be more transparent (include KWh figures) with export payments?


As this is what we’d call a ‘technical feasbility trail’, there are limitations to what insights we can offer trialists. However we recognise the value of providing kWh info to trialists and will review it as part of the trial review phase

API


We don't have any commercial framework in place for offering our APIs as a SaaS (software as a service) product. At the moment we only offer our APIs to selected partners, but this may change in the future as we scale. I'd be very interested to know what your use case would be though @ArundaleP…..

Integrated Energy System


An integrated energy system is part of our long term vision, see our Flex platform website for more info.

iOS/Android App


We debated for a long time about whether to build a progressive web app (PWA) or a native app back when we started in 2017. Having had a lot of combined experience developing native, hybrid and web apps, we decided to go with a PWA for a number of reasons:

 

  • Frameworks like Facebook's React have come a long way and we had already decided our front, middle and back end would be primarily written in JavaScript (or derivatives) and that would always give us the option to explore native components in the future using React Native
  • It's much quicker and easier to deploy a new version of the app for us and for you
  • All users are always on the latest version (which reduces the complexity of potential support issues "I'm on version 5.1.1" "Oh, that version doesn't support feature X")
  • It's works on iOS, Android, Windows, Symbian, Mac, Linux, etc. out of the box with little additional effort on our part
  • The device hardware and functionality that web apps can access like the camera, fingerprint sensor, location awareness, notifications, etc. are continually expanding and improving
  • There's no overhead of publishing to an app store (costs, complicated release processes, third party review time, opaque rules, etc.)


That said, we acknowledge Apple, Google and Microsoft have trained several generations to expect apps to live in app stores. Native apps still have greater access and potency than their web based brethren (for the moment) and Apple certainly treats web apps as second class citizens in its ecosystem. In contrast, putting our current app onto the Google Play Store is relatively easy, but we didn't think it was fair to differentiate our offering like that, especially given the majority of our users are on iOS.

I mentioned in my response to @duncanmelling (which will be posted soon) that push notifications may be the one feature that forces our hand, at least for iPhone users, so watch this space.

Multiple Device Support


This is also on our radar. We know it's causing pain for some of you, particularly if you have a V2G. It's not something we're planning on working on in 2020, but we may look at in the future.

V2G Profitability


The V2G trial is and always was a technical feasibility trial. The intention was never to make a profit, but determine if bidirectional charging could support grid flexibility. Part of the trial review will be to determine if the device could be incorporated into a revenue generating proposition.

Government Advocacy


A major part of our programme is working closely with government to achieve a shared understanding of what a future where local grid balancing is the norm looks like. By its very nature this involves ongoing discussions with DNOs and National Grid.

Becoming the Standard


Our founder Stephen Fitzpatrick expresses this most eloquently when he says his vision for OVO is to get to a point where it's considered Critical National Infrastructure. We would very much like to become the de facto standard and are pursuing a number of partnerships with this in mind.

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@ArundaleP wrote:

Is Kaluza planning an integrated energy system for domestic users (bringing solar, V2G / V2H, battery storage, heat pumps, heating etc together on one platform) with integration with existing hardware and tariffs that make financial sense for consumers to want?

Well that’s the big question, isn’t it?!

I can’t see any way that a household could have the Kaluza Platform / Flex controlling some energy devices, whilst others were operating with “smart regimes” from another supplier.

Imagine the difficulties if the Kaluza Platform issues a command for a V2G charger to supply the Grid and a minute later your Tesla Powerwall starts charging its batteries because your PV Panels are generating. Aagh!

Either the Kaluza Platform is ubiquitous across the UK, or the strategy fails.

So to succeed, the No.1 priority for Kaluza must be to license the platform to all-comers.

This is a re-run of the classic battle between VHS and Beta-max. There was no point in proving that Beta-Max was technically superior (which it was), when Sony had effectively got all the equipment manufacturers to adopt VHS decoding by default.

Would Josh like to comment further?

 

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But if I had access to the V2G or Smart charger, A Tesla Powerwall and a SolarEdge (or most sunspec) solar systems I could if you would allow me local access.  For example Powerwall, LG Chem batteries and SolarEdge communicate using an open protocol via RS485 so in theory software can be written to integrate them with your platform but will need some form of hub to communicate.

 

This to me seems to be the limitation of several different standards and not allowing access to monitor and control chargers, solar batteries etc. An industry standard needs to be established or a platform that every hardware provider feels they need to be part of. 
 

Give me access to your hardware and I will integrate it into my system. Everything is possible 😁

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That sounds a great solution @ArundaleP. And what about the other 67million of us? :wink:

It is vital that we cease viewing GB energy supplies from an individual stand-point. Equally, the energy planners and HMG need to stop basing their strategies on the major power stations.

Let’s just take a glimpse of what happens when we fail to see the wider picture:

20 years ago, the Government incentivised householders to install Solar Panels by using financial bonuses. The wealthiest people quickly did so and are still reaping 50p / kWh which is derived from a levy on the poorer households, often living in rented accommodation with no stakehold in anything renewable.

The consequences on the distribution grid have also been disasterous. Because those PV Panels are on single-phase properties, they cause imbalances in local 11kV substations. That has increased system losses from 5% to 10%.

Now the EV market is growing (with more Government subsidies), and principally amongst the same ABC1 section of the population. After all, they have garages or park on the drive, whereas poorer households use the road or a designated “parking bay” several meters away.

Those with EVs use their chargers overnight without any thought to the temperature rises in the 230/440v underground cables feeding their houses. Instead of the overnight cooling-off period which they used to enjoy, the cables remain hot until breakfast time the following morning.

 

So what are the solutions?

Well I’d hope that the Kaluza Platform is the tool which could help resolve this.

Firstly, instead of allowing such losses from phase-imbalances, why not route the local PV generation to houses (on the same phase) which have storage capacity?

I don’t just mean people who splash out on a Powerwall to make a personal profit. There must be an element of social responsibility here. I’d suggest that excess generation be fed first to those elderly people whose houses still have storage radiators and an immersion heater in a hot water cylinder.

Secondly, I’d like to see Kaluza migrate away from using National Grid data, and instead pick up the demand-loading and energy-mix data from the Bulk Supply Points.

That means we can use the excess-generation from regional renewable sources which can’t be taken onto the National Grid due to capacity constraints.

Now this is acres away from allowing each customer to merely assign their own timings for charging an EV. It requires the customers’ preferences to be just one of a hundred inputs to the Kaluza Platform which will eventually decide what power to allow into your house and how much you will export.

But if we’re going to make the GB energy-supply model operate in such a way as to start reversing Climate Change, then this is the bold, wide vision we need to have.

So who wants to pick this up?

Fionn or Josh? :thinking:

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Surely local grid balancing and knowing instant consumption in real time of every home is key to being able to implement this in a useful way?

Smart meters need to be compulsory and the data accessible in real time.

This in small scale terms allows Neighbour A’s solar / battery to power neighbour B’s kettle and balance the local demands. 
 

Regarding major power stations, if the government carry on backing the likes of Hinckley Point C which makes no financial or environmental sense then we are doomed.
If the commitment of investment for that was used for grid storage and local renewables we would be free of foreign companies profiteering from our utilities and have a more sustainable renewables industry in this country. 

I see nothing wrong with people who can afford and have the ability to do it to invest in renewables, smart grid supporting storage etc. On a personal level,  it would be nice if there was some financial support from our non green government. We chose to buy an EV (V2G) and fit solar because we believe it is what we should do for the better of the environment. If we can make the quick gains now, we should be doing it now. There seems to be a feeling of once we have it all worked out we will do it but not before. Seems crazy to waste time that we could have been using more renewables and preparing for the future of energy in this country.

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@ArundalePwrote:

Surely local grid balancing and knowing instant consumption in real time of every home is key to being able to implement this in a useful way?

We are in agreement :slight_smile:

This in small scale terms allows Neighbour A’s solar / battery to power neighbour B’s kettle and balance the local demands.

But unfortunately this won’t work. :disappointed_relieved:

We also need to have Smart Metering in the substations. Currently there are less than 20 of these in the UK, and more than half of them are being monitored by local Community Groups, with ongoing funding from Western Power - Thank-you! :hugging:

GB has 230,000 ground-based substations and a further 320,000 smaller pole-mounted transformers. That’s going to cost a small fortune to set up a monitoring network.

The monitored sub-station which I have access to is yielding 146 parameters every minute. There needs to some impressive number-crunching to make use of that!

But if that level of data could be added into the Kaluza Platform along with the energy-mix data from the BSPs, then we’d be able to dramatically increase the proportion of renewables we use, whilst simultaneously halving the distribution losses.

With the present appetite for combating Climate Change, I think the public would welcome this with open arms.

… and HMG could hit all its Zero-emission targets and international commitments as well :thumbsup_tone3:

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@ArundalePwrote:

This in small scale terms allows Neighbour A’s solar / battery to power neighbour B’s kettle and balance the local demands.

But unfortunately this won’t work. :disappointed_relieved:
 

Please elaborate, I am intrigued why you think this? 

Userlevel 7

This is a huge one, thanks for posting this @ArundaleP - our reply from Josh, the Kaluza app product manager:

 

Carbon


I don't have the data available from the beginning of the trial, but since the beginning of 2020, the 322 V2Gs connected to the platform saved 16.41 tonnes of CO₂ by time shifting charging.

Time of use tariffs


Within OVO we constantly review our tariffs in relation to the competition and market trends. Time of use & type of use tariffs are an area of investigation for OVO at the moment but there is no timeline for the launch of a commercial proposition yet. Watch this space!


Is it possible for OVO to be more transparent (include KWh figures) with export payments?


As this is what we’d call a ‘technical feasbility trail’, there are limitations to what insights we can offer trialists. However we recognise the value of providing kWh info to trialists and will review it as part of the trial review phase

API


We don't have any commercial framework in place for offering our APIs as a SaaS (software as a service) product. At the moment we only offer our APIs to selected partners, but this may change in the future as we scale. I'd be very interested to know what your use case would be though @ArundaleP…..

Integrated Energy System


An integrated energy system is part of our long term vision, see our Flex platform website for more info.

iOS/Android App


We debated for a long time about whether to build a progressive web app (PWA) or a native app back when we started in 2017. Having had a lot of combined experience developing native, hybrid and web apps, we decided to go with a PWA for a number of reasons:

 

  • Frameworks like Facebook's React have come a long way and we had already decided our front, middle and back end would be primarily written in JavaScript (or derivatives) and that would always give us the option to explore native components in the future using React Native
  • It's much quicker and easier to deploy a new version of the app for us and for you
  • All users are always on the latest version (which reduces the complexity of potential support issues "I'm on version 5.1.1" "Oh, that version doesn't support feature X")
  • It's works on iOS, Android, Windows, Symbian, Mac, Linux, etc. out of the box with little additional effort on our part
  • The device hardware and functionality that web apps can access like the camera, fingerprint sensor, location awareness, notifications, etc. are continually expanding and improving
  • There's no overhead of publishing to an app store (costs, complicated release processes, third party review time, opaque rules, etc.)


That said, we acknowledge Apple, Google and Microsoft have trained several generations to expect apps to live in app stores. Native apps still have greater access and potency than their web based brethren (for the moment) and Apple certainly treats web apps as second class citizens in its ecosystem. In contrast, putting our current app onto the Google Play Store is relatively easy, but we didn't think it was fair to differentiate our offering like that, especially given the majority of our users are on iOS.

I mentioned in my response to @duncanmelling (which will be posted soon) that push notifications may be the one feature that forces our hand, at least for iPhone users, so watch this space.

Multiple Device Support


This is also on our radar. We know it's causing pain for some of you, particularly if you have a V2G. It's not something we're planning on working on in 2020, but we may look at in the future.

V2G Profitability


The V2G trial is and always was a technical feasibility trial. The intention was never to make a profit, but determine if bidirectional charging could support grid flexibility. Part of the trial review will be to determine if the device could be incorporated into a revenue generating proposition.

Government Advocacy


A major part of our programme is working closely with government to achieve a shared understanding of what a future where local grid balancing is the norm looks like. By its very nature this involves ongoing discussions with DNOs and National Grid.

Becoming the Standard


Our founder Stephen Fitzpatrick expresses this most eloquently when he says his vision for OVO is to get to a point where it's considered Critical National Infrastructure. We would very much like to become the de facto standard and are pursuing a number of partnerships with this in mind.

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Big thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer those. What do you think @Transparent @Transparent ? Also tagging @Jequinlan as I know there’s bits in there he’d want to see. 

 

By the way did anyone see Stephen in yesterday’s Question Time

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Thanks @Tim_OVO , one of the answers was mildly ambiguous.  The ability to make v2g revenue generating. Is that for OVO, the end customer, or both! 

 

Time of use Tarrifs cannot come soon enough! Nor can (hopefully) low carbon heating trials! 

Userlevel 7

The ability to make v2g revenue generating. Is that for OVO, the end customer, or both! 

 

What about those export payments, @Jequinlan ?

 

From Josh’s reply to these and some other V2G AMA answers, it seems installation costs and charger costs might be a factor for the supplier of these to generate revenue, at least for the first year or two.

 

The potential benefits to the customer, the grid, the DNO, are tangible from day 1. And these benefits could be improved with changes to the proposition… maybe? And from those carbon saving stats from 2020, the global move to zero carbon a well gets a benefit from day 1 of a V2G install! Thoughts @ArundaleP @Transparent ?

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Well I was hoping to respond on this thread with something profound and eloquent.

But instead I think I need to answer what Tim has just posted.

The present customer-facing business model being used by Kaluza is not as refined as the back-end which negotiates the wholesale pricing of electricity against its demand and export capabilities. Thus we are currently viewing a somewhat crude pricing structure.

I am hopeful that we should soon see:

  • Leasing of the V2G charger so as to better spread the (relatively high) installation costs
  • Transition to negotiating electricity pricing/demand at the level of the Bulk Supply Point (two stages back from the sub-station in the street). Here there are more lucrative contracts available from the DNO, and better opportunities to store over-supplies of renewable generation.
  • Local flexibility monitoring; obtain a revenue stream from the DNO by importing/exporting in a pattern which minimises phase-imbalance and harmonics (the two major losses on the Distribution Network)
  • Time Of Use tariff; with variable pricing based on genuine renewable-energy supplies rather that the notional “offsetting” which OVO uses at the moment

With DNOs now being required to alter their strategy and become Service Organisations (DSOs) there are better financial models to assimilate than the present wholesale price from the National Grid.

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Well I was hoing to respond on this thread with something profound and eloquent.

But instead I think I need to answer what Tim has just posted.

The present customer-facing business model being used by Kaluza is not as refined as the back-end which negotiates the wholesale pricing of electricity against its demand and export capabilities. Thus we are currently viewing a somewhat crude pricing structure.

I am hopeful that we should soon see:

  • Leasing of the V2G charger so as to better spread the (relatively high) installation costs
  • Transition to negotiating electricity pricing/demand at the level of the Bulk Supply Point (two stages back from the sub-station in the street). Here there are more lucrative contracts available from the DNO, and better opportunities to store over-supplies of renewable generation.
  • Local flexibility monitoring; obtain a revenue stream from the DNO by importing/exporting in a pattern which minimises phase-imbalance and harmonics (the two major losses on the Distribution Network)
  • Time Of Use tariff; with variable pricing based on genuine renewable-energy supplies rather that the notional “offsetting” which OVO uses at the moment

With DNOs now being required to alter their strategy and become Service Organisations (DSOs) there are better financial models to assimilate than the present wholesale price from the National Grid.

 

 

@Transparent your explanation here answers to my question about OVO`s renewable energy use…

“genuine renewable-energy supplies rather then the notional “offsetting”

I would like to see this, what is a reasonable target, 2025 or sooner?

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OVO are serious about net zero carbon for our operations and our customers, @Andras - just have a look at our Plan Zero page for more info here. The target is 2030, and we need (a community of) people to get there!

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I think @Andras is right to bring this up. OVO Marketing Dept are giving us a mixed message.

I think the vast majority of the UK population would support a Net Zero strategy. OVO will have little difficulty engaging us in its Plan Zero initiatives.

But it hasn’t helped that we’ve all had letters in the last quarter telling us that we now enjoy 100% Renewable Energy at no extra cost. :thinking:

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This is a really good conversation to have, and valuable to us a company. So thanks to everyone that is participating. 

 

I think the vast majority of the UK population would support a Net Zero strategy. OVO will have little difficulty engaging us in its Plan Zero initiatives.

But it hasn’t helped that we’ve all had letters in the last quarter telling us that we now enjoy 100% Renewable Energy at no extra cost. :thinking:

 

@Transparent can you help me understand this ^ ?

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Yes; all customers on the standard 12m or 24m fixed tariffs were told in the summer that we were now being upgraded to 100% zero-carbon without paying the extra each month.

(See what @Andras wrote here a couple of days ago)

When you read the small print it became clear that whilst OVO is indeed buying in more renewable energy (as shown by the ROC trades), the full quota of 100% was only being achieved through carbon offsetting.

The Marketing Dept may have thought this would come across as good news, but it had the opposite effect on me. It seemed to be a strategy which undermined the very principles on which Stephen Fitzpatrick founded the company in the first place.

Userlevel 7

Thanks for this context, @Transparent - this is getting interesting!

 

Could you help me out with outlining what you would prefer to see OVO doing, with regards to this 100% renewable energy?

 

What is the best way to help customers have zero carbon energy sources when using a national grid which includes dirty fuel in the mix?

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