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Would OVO allow site surveys to be performed by electricians prior to vehicle to grid (V2G) installation, to reduce costs? Kaluza AMA

  • 2 August 2020
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Question for Fionn:

Can you please read here where I’m discussing the unexpectedly high installation costs of the V2G charger Trial. I assume similar issues apply to the Smart charger.

Can we hear more on whether you yet have ideas of how to resolve this issue?

Surely there must be a solution involving pre-installation checks by a local electrician (and the DNO if necessary)?

This would diminish the requirement to have relatively expensive, highly-skilled Kaluza engineers spending time on-site dealing with mundane cabling and supplies that don’t meet the current standards.

As the entire country needs significant take-up of EVs, is this an issue which Ofgem should consider including within the RIIO-ED2 criteria? There must surely be more incentive for the DNOs to upgrade their equipment to the basic standards which would allow the installation of an EV charger.

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 19 September 2020, 16:51

Fionn from the OVO Smart Home Team:

 

Thanks for your question, Transparent.

 

This is one of the most complex aspects of the trial and will be key to the success of a commercial product.

 

Trial installations have taught us a lot and we recognise a seamless journey is required at scale. In reference to your suggestion of a local electrician reviewing prior to install, we would ideally like to standardise how the pre checks are done to minimise aborted installs when the set up is unsuitable. This is difficult to ensure with an electrican who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of a V2G charger.

 

One thing's for sure - pre-installation and installation will be a key focus in the review of the trial!

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Fionn from the OVO Smart Home Team:

 

Thanks for your question, Transparent.

 

This is one of the most complex aspects of the trial and will be key to the success of a commercial product.

 

Trial installations have taught us a lot and we recognise a seamless journey is required at scale. In reference to your suggestion of a local electrician reviewing prior to install, we would ideally like to standardise how the pre checks are done to minimise aborted installs when the set up is unsuitable. This is difficult to ensure with an electrican who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of a V2G charger.

 

One thing's for sure - pre-installation and installation will be a key focus in the review of the trial!

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I remember hearing from some community members here about a few very complicated V2G installations involving several visits by our engineers. Was it you, @Jequinlan ?

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@Tim_OVO , I had many visits! 2 pre install surveys, partial install, dno work, partial install, more dno work, complete install plus simultaneously upgrade to smartmeter  and then replaced smartmeter after 3 tries. The point of a trial is to understand what a typical slightly worse than avg case is and equip the team(s) with the processes and equipment to minimise lost time and effort. As a trialist this needs to be embraced and help with feedback! Who knew beforehand my local substation wasn't configured right for me! Now hopefully its on a process checklist!

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I think there is quite a bit of work to be done which requires very little knowledge of how a V2G charger functions. Bringing a local electrician into the team enables them to undertake all the cable runs, earth stakes and electrical tests.

The OVO family of companies already has a network of 3rd parties working with it. That’s how Corgi operates.

It might take a couple of years, but Kaluza could readily build up a database of local electricians who are prepared to work alongside their technical installation team.

Such an approach also helps to solve the longer-term problem of installations that are reported as being “faulty”. That local electrician could be sent to site to check the symptoms far quicker (and cheaper!) than Kaluza could get to site. In many cases they could also remedy the situation - resetting a trip or contacting the local DNO Engineering Team… who will already know them of course.

Kaluza simply must reduce the costs of installation and post-installation checks. It’s not just the V2G charger to be considered. There will be lots more Flex-connected devices coming to fruition in the ensuing years. That’s a huge incentive for local electricians who are prepared to expand their horizons beyond the standard domestic wiring market.

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Thanks for confirming, @Jequinlan - very very complex installation that one! I think @ArundaleP might have also had multiple visits… 

 

The point of a trial is to understand what a typical slightly worse than avg case is and equip the team(s) with the processes and equipment to minimise lost time and effort. As a trialist this needs to be embraced and help with feedback! Who knew beforehand my local substation wasn't configured right for me! Now hopefully its on a process checklist!

 

:point_up::ok_hand: I can imagine something similar to a smart meter booking, which for anyone that can't remember, is full of pre-appointment checks to try and minimise the risk of a failed appointment. 

 

It might take a couple of years, but Kaluza could readily build up a database of local electricians who are prepared to work alongside their technical installation team.

 

I like the idea of this in practice. How about those DNO costs - is it feasible for the customer to ever have to pay for any work done by the DNO needed for the chargers to be able to be fitted? 

 

 

Kaluza simply must reduce the costs of installation and post-installation checks. It’s not just the V2G charger to be considered. There will be lots more Flex-connected devices coming to fruition in the ensuing years. 

 

For anyone that doesn’t know, here’s more info on the amazing Kaluyza Flex platform :) 

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@Tim_OVO  wrote:

How about those DNO costs - is it feasible for the customer to ever have to pay for any work done by the DNO needed for the chargers to be able to be fitted?

Yes. All DNOs have a charges document which shows what must be paid for their services, such as digging up a pavement to install a new cable for a house with a V2G charger. Here’s the 2020 edition (downloadable PDF) of the charges document for the West Midlands area (incl Bristol) published by Western Power Distribution.

However, there is a major difference for installation of equipment connected to the Kaluza Flex Platform. This can potentially be operated in such a way as to reduce network imbalances, minimise losses and obviate the need for a DNO to undertake reinforcement.

So taking into account the Kaluza/Sonnen Battery Storage Trial at Woodhall Spa, this is testing the feasibility of using distributed storage instead of a major upgrade of the Distribution Network on both the 11kV and 33kV feeders into the area.

You could therefore argue that Western Power should be paying Kaluza for their services because it’s just saved them £? millions :slight_smile:

However, such arrangements can only be debated once Kaluza starts to use data from the Distribution Network instead of the National Grid on which its algorithms are currently being tested.

Have look at this map of the Westcountry:

This is taken from Western Power’s Flexible Power procurement document, 2020-Q1.

The yellow areas contain Constraint Management Zones (CMZs), within which there are various factors preventing Western Power being able to satisfy the required load. The constraints vary from month to month and hour to hour. So there is a large network of solutions which are brought together to resolve the issues.

In some cases larger commercial users will be compensated for reducing demand, whilst in others the DNO will buy stored energy from individuals and community groups.

So if Kaluza had control over a distributed network of stored charge within a CMZ, then it would receive income for delivering that energy within an agreed contract time-frame.

Alternatively, in order to reduce the need to administrate WPD’s Flexible Power contracts, they could decide to offer no connection fees for Kaluza customers based within CMZs.

 

Is that fair?

Should Kaluza instead take that income stream and apply it evenly as a reduction in DNO connection fees for all of its customers?

But then where is the incentive for customers living in areas rich with renewable generation opportunities to invest in those technologies?

Should the poorer households in central Cornwall, where solar and wind energy is in abundance, be subsidising V2G charger installations for wealthy householders in Surrey?

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Is that fair?

Should Kaluza instead take that income stream and apply it evenly as a reduction in DNO connection fees for all of its customers?

But then where is the incentive for customers living in areas rich with renewable generation opportunities to invest in those technologies?

Should the poorer households in central Cornwall, where solar and wind energy is in abundance, be subsidising V2G charger installations for wealthy householders in Surrey?

 

This is very interesting, and not too easy to solve. 

 

Question though, to make sure I understand it: abundant solar and wind energy in Cornwall, is that the cause of the Constraint Management Zones (CMZs)? 

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No. The CMZs are identified for different reasons. That’s why some of them require Flexibility Contracts that operate for seasons (eg during winter) and some require additional supplies during certain hours of the day.

This is unrelated to the amount of renewable energy available 50 miles or more to the West.

You can download a copy of the CMZ Procurement document for the current round of bidding (Summer 2020) here. This covers 45 CMZ areas with a total requirement of 302MW.

Below is a brief extract of the Procurement Requirement for an area of Somerset:

This shows the predicted needs are for next summer (2021) and only on weekdays. You can see greater detail if you look at the document.

 

I think there are several ways to solve this beyond the current Procurement Process.

I would like there to be a bias in favour of increasing renewable generation and storage. In other words I’d like to see the process modified to contain an evaluation of the Energy Mix, rather than just a calculation based on “best price”.

Better still, why not have Western Power Distribution and Kaluza arrive at a solution whereby the stored energy products (V2G charger and Home Battery Storage etc) can be installed with no fees paid to the DNO if they’re within a CMZ and their output can be made available during the Constraint Timeframes?

Beyond that the Kaluza network could actually be used to pick up renewable energy generated in mid-Cornwall, store it, and move it to CMZs during hours when there is available capacity on the Distribution Grid. It could either be stored again within the CMZ, or else sent to homes with Kaluza-connected Storage Radiators and Immersion-heaters, allowing those to be switched off during the ensuing hours of peak demand.

Yes there are losses incurred by such a store-and-forward process, but they could be tolerated if the costs are significantly less than the DNO having to invest in major grid upgrades.

A store-and-forward model would increase the overall percentage of renewable generation within GB, and allow cheaper installation of Kaluza-connected storage products across a much larger region.

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The comments above about Constraint Management Zones are expanded upon in this Reference Topic about Balancing the Grid.

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