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Here at OVO we have a monthly Town Hall, a company wide meeting.

The theme this month is all about sustainability and our plans to help ourselves and customers to reduce their carbon usage.

We’re already ahead here on the forum, check my most recent post here.

OK, so what are our plans?

We’ll be sharing more later in the year, but as a start we need to align with our customers and have the shared objective: carbon reduction. As a nation we seem to be standing up and taking notice, Eva’s most recent post shows that climate change is becoming a front runner in being a priority for concern.

Our figurehead and founder here at OVO, Stephen Fitzpatrick is fighting for us to reach net zero as a nation independently from his stance in OVO.

You can catch his presentation here this gives you an idea of how ingrained this target is and how important it is to our company ethos.

What are we going to do?

We already offer 33% green electricity as standard, but a big part of our customer’s carbon emissions is their gas usage.

We need to look at how we can help our customers heat their homes with electricity. Our smart storage heater comes in here.

For those still on gas heating, helping with boiler efficiency is where we can help.

We’re going to try and do more to help educate customers on how to use energy better. Pushing low carbon transport is also a must, so EV and V2G is going to be a focus.

What do we do?

Some of our lovely super users popped down not too long ago for a VIP day , the last meeting we had on that day there were some questions raised regarding what we as a business do to be sustainable.

I think it was @NoPoke that raised the question ( and rightfully so) “why don’t you have solar panels on the building?” Short answer is we rent the building and there are plans to leave.


We have swapped to 100% renewable energy used in our offices.

At the moment 20% of our engineers fleets are EV’s by the end of next year we’d like this to reach 70%.

We made changes internally, our team were issued keep cups, we no longer use plastic cutlery or straws and we no longer serve any drinks in anything disposable.

Has anyone got any ideas of what we can do to help educate, I know @Leo Moran was vocal about teaching and education in schools.

Has anyone heard of what other energy suppliers or perhaps local authorities are doing to get to net zero, I’m looking at you here @Transparent.

Let us know what you think!

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Hi Amy

I have a few thoughts about education. Many people have very little understanding of how energy efficient their homes are and what they could/should do to improve the energy performance of their homes.

For people who have moved/rented since 2007 an energy performance survey and certificate (EPC) will have been completed and those people will have some more info on their homes.

However many people have not moved for years, including myself and a survey like this has never been completed. I have no clue what the EPC rating of my house is and it was built in the 1970's. Yes, I have made some improvements such as windows, insulation and energy efficient lighting etc but it would be useful to get an experts help.

Could OVO offer cut price home energy surveys by teaming up with a/some suitable companies to carry out the surveys??? This service could be advertised to customers as a way of helping them understand and reduce their usage, and help them understand what improvements they could make and it would show OVO are serious about helping customers reduce their energy use.
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I'm pleased to see this issue being raised on the Forum. Thanks for the shout-out @Amy_OVO

There are a number of issues which OVO could address which would help towards Carbon Reduction:

A. There are already larger electric vans available which could be used by OVO Field Engineers who have extended ranges to cover. Have a look at Arrival in Banbury, Oxfordshire, who have supplied electric vans for Royal Mail:

Better still, provide an extension to your V2G charger for these British-made Arrival vans. That would encourage white-van-man to migrate to electric vehicles!

B. Lobby the Government to change the law so that house builders must take account of local energy policies within planned developments.

This used to be the case, but was removed by the Deregulation Act (2015), Sect 43:

Now would be a good time for Forum Members to write to their respective MPs about this issue!

C. Cease measuring Carbon emissions for electricity from national statistics provided by National Grid.

The Energy-mix and Carbon footprint data are available right down to each Bulk Supply Point on the Distribution Grid.

I live in an area where there is currently no further capacity to add more renewable energy generation. My CO2 emissions bear little relationship to what might be experienced by customers in London or Birmingham!

If I can find the energy-mix data for my BSP, then surely OVO can?! This could/should be printed on my monthly Statements.

Don't you use this data to inform VCharge anyway?
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I should also mention LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) who provide free home-surveys for people on benefits. The criteria are on their website.

LEAP doesn't yet cover the whole UK, but is expanding as fast as they can find people prepared to be trained. The Assessors/Mentors are paid for each visit, and take with them a "goody bag" with useful items like LED lightbulbs.
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Those Royal Mail E vans look kinda cool!

V interesting to hear about this grid CO2 emission measuring, wouldn't they be measuring the emissions made in the production of the electricity? In which case, it would be appropriate to look at this from a national rather then regional basis....
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Erm... that's not how the electricity grid works, @Tim_OVO !

I have two hydro stations in my area, both feeding into the 11kV network. So these will have a much greater effect on the quantity of 33kV power we need to draw from the BSP in my locality (West Devon) than they will on the energy mix in N.W. Plymouth, which is served by a different feed from that same BSP.

Very little of the renewable generation in Western Power's SW Region gets passed back up the Transmission Grid to where you are in Bristol. There isn't the system capacity to send it back up the line!

That means the Carbon Footprint for electricity in West Devon is significantly lower than the Nation Grid average.
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The only common factor on the national grid is frequency. Everything else varies by region including CO2/kWh

It is like having lots of ponds connected by pipes, some of which are quite small. Each pond has a different mix of fish and insects. Though the fish and insects may migrate they stay largely in the same pond. Water levels between the ponds will vary too depending on the balance between inflow and extraction. (Alternatively imagine pouring different colour paints into the ponds:. Even though interconnected they will all be different colours due to what is being poured in and extracted.)

Regional overview here https://carbonintensity.org.uk/#regional Wish the SE was better. It would look a little better numerically if the London array windfarm was allocated to the SE and not London even though the power enters the grid at Cleve Hill in north Kent,.
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Very little of the renewable generation in Western Power's SW Region
gets passed back up the Transmission Grid to where you are in Bristol. There isn't the system capacity to send it back up the line!

That means the Carbon Footprint for electricity in West Devon is significantly lower than the Nation Grid average.

But is this renewable energy being lost or used by locals in the beautiful Devonshire countryside?

If it's lost, that would be an outrageous and inefficient waste. Otherwise, what difference does it make? If someone in Bristol uses 40% fossil fuel and someone in Devon uses 100% renewable for their electricity today, the only factor to pay attention to is the total amount of fossil fuel used and the resulting CO2....... no?
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I expect Mr T will answer more fully, but yes renewables that can not be transported by the grid are lost. (Curtailed) This is why DSR is so important and ALC needed for a smart grid,

Averages do not work . If more renewables are added to the SW this will have close to zero impact on the SE because the grid connection is constrained and can not transport the low Carbon energy to where it would displace gas.
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I like the analogy of the interlinked ponds with water levels that can rise and fall, @NoPoke.

The Carbon Intensity site you mentioned is still using National Grid sources however, albeit divided into the separate DNO Regions.

I can't see how OVO could use such data as an input to the Kaluza Platform (was VCharge). The whole point is to handle a mass-distributed storage network. They surely wouldn't be handling domestic-level V2G chargers and Home Storage Batteries connected to 240v, and then jump right up to 400kV for energy-mix and CO2 inputs to the algorithms!

Some readers might not see why this is a problem. However, we should bear in mind that the forthcoming energy strategy of Demand Side Response is based on the Consumer making the demands.

Whilst it is true that the majority will make their choices based solely on price-points within a Time-Of-Use Tariff, others may add in preferences such as
  • Only charge my EV from renewable sources
  • No nuclear component in the mix
Inevitably, consumers in SE England will not fare as well as those in regions with plentiful supplies of solar, wind, hydro and tidal resources. EDF haven't built six nuclear reactors at Calais for the benefit of the French!
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In a nutshell, @Tim_OVO, yes we are "losing" renewable energy generation. 😮

It is "an outrageous and inefficient waste", just as you suggest.

Did you not notice the maps and charts I posted over here on the Topic about SMETS2 ALCS-devices last month?

I provided a much simplified overview of the distribution network around Truro in Cornwall.

The red colour for the Bulk Supply Point (33kV) and the Primary (11kV) Transformers in the area is used to denote where there is no further capacity for connecting renewable energy generation!

Within Western Power's SW Region, the situation is now such that consumers towards the SE Devon and Somerset areas are invited to participate in Flexible Power management. These are areas with periods of high demand, where the infrastructure is insufficient to supply the renewable energy being generated to the West in Cornwall.

Within these Constraint Management Zones (CMZ), Commercial Customers are paid to reduce demand at certain pre-determined time periods, and anyone with available small-scale generating capacity or stored charge, are paid to feed into the distribution grid.

This is why I keep harping on about the need for
  • Time of Use Tariffs
  • Storage Battery Trials
  • the Kaluza software platform
I'm absolutely amazed that OVO hasn't accelerated the development of these technologies over the past 15 months since the grand London Press Launch.

You are sitting on exactly the products we need now, and yet:

Octopus launch an Agile TOU Tariff ahead of you

Bristol Energy engaged in a Microgrid Trial at Owen Square on your doorstep

Western Power ran a four-year SoLa stored-energy assessment without you!

Climate change issues are affecting us now.

Do you think we should sit around waiting whilst OVO/Kaluza come up with "marketing-strategies" in the board room?!
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Ok so I’ve learnt an awful lot in a day of reading @Transparent ‘s posts.....which is ‘kinda embarrassing as my father worked for the CEGB and National Grid for his whole career in network design and management.

The way I see this there is firstly an education / labelling problem (just like HS2 - it’s all about the capacity not the speed!...but chopping down all the woodland is still wrong) with SMETS2 that @Transparent has highlighted several times - it’s not really about the funky colour display allowing you to remember to turn the light off (just remember!) it’s much more about preparing the network for micro generation coupled with storage in many forms (is ovo’s storage heater push a clever bit of joined up thinking?) V2G, batteries etc to make micro generation more efficient within the existing big network.

I’d really like to see Ovo take a lead on this joined up thinking. The customer base isn’t stupid -mostly just short of time - so tell us how SMETS2, V2G, micro generation, storage heaters and batteries all join up for our financial good and the planet’s good. Incentivise us to do it in the right order to benefit the grid and benefit out pocket. Make switching to morally and engineeringly (made up word) good options possible mid contract. Offer contract change with hardware purchase - got solar panels? buying storage heaters from ovo? Take a preferential tariff as a reward!

Secondly we need government to provide strategic direction (god help us) to prepare the network for this rapid proliferation of micro generation and storage ; incentivise it and then legislate to mandate it within new build, industry and infrastructure projects. For example the electrification of the GWR line could have planned to push and pull between electric cars plugged into prime slots in the car park next to the line and the new trains generating as the brake into the station and looking for a clean kick start on the acceleration out.

Naive and optimistic to the end. (I’m desperately hoping that @Transparent is actually Andrea Leadsom and she’s secretly a network / tech genius that is going to turn around the UK infrastructure in her new role thus providing a role model for a greener sustainable world................🦄🌈🤮)
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Have any talks taken place between OVO and Western Power? Western Power seem to be one of the more forward looking DNOs.as they move towards becoming a DSO.

Re Electric vans, Tesla fitted out several model S as mobile service vans. Rear seats were removed and replaced with a cage and custom tool rack. Model S effectively eliminates range issues that beset current alternative small vans.
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Well spotted @NoPoke - Western Power Distribution are indeed very forward-thinking, and a good match for OVO. It's a pity you're not in a WPD Region.

There must have been some talks with WPD about a year ago because OVO stated somewhere here on the Forum about involvement in a trial in Rugby. I'm unsure what was.

More recently I have had some cursory 3-way communications with WPD and Kaluza regarding the outcome of the Ofgem-funded OpenLV Project. I'm one of the team members in the Tamar Energy Community part of the project which has been monitoring a substation for about 9 months.

I've posted a few graphs of data from OpenLV where it was relevant to do so on the Forum.

But you're right: there needs to be further liaison between the two companies. Each has solutions for issues that the other is facing.
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I spent yesterday morning at one of my two local hydro-generation sites. Mary Tavy hydroelectric station is owned by South West Water, and has operated since 1932. It generates up to 2600kW and feeds onto the 11kV distribution network.

Mary Tavy actually houses two independent sets of three turbines. One sources from a reservoir attached to the abandoned Wheal Bennett mine, whilst the other draws water along a leat from the River Tavy high on Dartmoor.

The 11kV substation within the Mary Tavy complex can supply power along four feeds, which I have named in the above distribution map.

Hydroelectric power is one of two renewable energy sources which can be regulated and controlled according to demand - the other one being Anaerobic Digestion. It therefore ranks higher in importance than would assumed by merely assessing its generation output.

I was therefore surprised to learn that South West Water are only given a single rate for power generated, irrespective of when that power is fed into the grid. (This excludes scheduled "Triads" which I won't go into at this stage).

As GB migrates towards implementing Demand Side Response and consumers switch to variable Time Of Use tariffs, this pricing formula will need to change. Hydroelectric is too important a component in the energy-mix to have it operating outside of the overall DSR strategy.

Moreover, yesterday I discovered that if a hydro-plant is left connected to the grid, turning to match the 50Hz mains frequency, but not actually generating, then it counteracts the problems of inductive loads causing reactive power losses. And power-losses are a major part of the RIIO-ED1 price constraint mechanism which Ofgem has applied to the regional electricity DNOs.

If anyone more technically able than I (@PeterR1947 or @So much for subtlety ?) wishes to explain this further, please feel free!
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A synchronous machine spinning under no load will look like an inductor connected between the grid voltage and the back emf produced by the rotating field. If under excited the back emf will be less than grid voltage and reactive power flows on the grid will be increased. If over-excited the spinning machine can source reactive power and thus cancel out some of the reactive power that the grid has to wastefully transport along with the desired GWs.

It could be that they are always producing VAs for the grid and thus only get a single rate?
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Great narrative @NoPoke - any chance of a diagram showing the magnets?

The senior engineer at Mary Tavy hydroelectric, Karl Jones, gave me an amazingly clear verbal explanation whilst pointing out the relevant parts of the turbine and generator (used to excite the coils). It was enthralling, but visual and too complex for here on the Forum!

As I understood it, the hydroelectric turbine in this mode effectively appears as a capacitor when "seen" from the external grid.

B. They are certainly not always generating power. None of the six turbines was running whilst I was there. They were getting ready to run up in the afternoon when heavy rain was forecast.

The water catchment area is the SW corner of Dartmoor, which is itself the largest high-level land mass which will be met by the prevailing SW wind from the Atlantic. But the land is steep and the rivers run very fast as soon as it rains.

In winter that's great - lots of water power when we need it most.

In summer the three turbines fed from the mine-reservoir would deplete it within 3-4 hours.

Running a hydro-plant like this is 50% engineering and 50% lifetime's experience!
SWW need to make sure that the skill-set gets passed on to next members of the team over the years.

If others reading this would like to visit the Mary Tavy hydroelectric station for themselves, they can book for one of two open-days on 18/19th Sept. It's a trip you won't forget in a hurry.
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Picture??? runs away.. There won't be any magnets as such, but there are plenty of magnetic fields.

The generator will likely be two generators on the same shaft, a small one to generate the rotor excitation for the larger generator. The stationary field windings on the small exciter are fed with DC and an AC voltage is induced in the rotor of the exciter. This is rectified on the moving rotor and fed to the main generator's rotor winding. This moving field then induces the AC voltage in the stator of the main generator which will then be connected to the grid via a step up transformer. What this achieves is that the field produced by the main rotor can be easily varied and no slip rings to wear out.

And yes when over excited this arrangement does look like a capacitor connected to the grid. It is not a particularly cost effective way to provide reactive power but if you have all the parts because you are an intermittent hydro generator then why not provide reactive power and get paid for that when the water is not flowing.
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Amazing explanation @NoPoke 😜

When @Amy_OVO started this Topic she wrote
We’re going to try and do more to help educate customers on how to use energy better.

So can we put your second paragraph to the "Amy Test" and see how educated she now feels?!

If her eyes glaze over then we'll know that the rotor got more excited than she did!
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Carbon Reduction..

OVO are promoting improved storage heaters. Combined with some eligibility criteria this is a positive step.

A bigger positive step would be to promote air source heat pumps as well.
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Carbon Reduction..

OVO are promoting improved storage heaters. Combined with some eligibility criteria this is a positive step.

A bigger positive step would be to promote air source heat pumps as well.

Thanks for coming to my rescue @NoPoke 😁

@Transparent you got me, cor that went well over my head, I got to "rotor excitation for the larger generator" and I was truly out of my depth.

Can I get layman's explanation @NoPoke?
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So I think we've just achieved the definitive test for this Forum. May I now put the Dimplex Smart Storage Radiators to the Amy Test?

It's getting very difficult to see how these differing smart energy devices all fit together within the strategy for Demand Side Response.

The Storage Rad control system appears to be designed with the Kaluza Software Platform behind the scenes, working out when to feed the cheapest electricity through, such that the defined room temperature is met. That being so, it's rather like having the Storage Rad on a Time Of Use tariff whilst the rest of the house uses standard rate electricity.

I'm still puzzled as to how this Storage Rad sits alongside the control App for EV Chargers also produced by Kaluza. If I have both devices, how much are they aware of each other?

The App's User Interfaces are sufficiently different that I would have difficulty knowing how to configure everything... particularly if I was elderly (the most common profile for someone with Storage Radiators).

Turning to @NoPoke's comment on Heat Pumps, you might like to note that I have added these on the diagram I posted here yesterday for devices that can potentially take advantage of the control capability built into SMETS2 meters.

And that begs the question...

Why are OVO/Kaluza offering multiple smart devices with their control systems operating outside of the SMETS2 system?

Once households start buying other smart devices from 3rd parties (not Kaluza) they will be unaware of each other and therefore unable to take advantage of the optimal energy-usage profile for their area.

Is Kaluza going to try and establish its own "standard" for smart control outside of the SMETS ALCS standard?

That would put it in a head-on confrontation with other manufacturers with a lot more marketing clout. Why choose a battle when the public mood is for all of us to work together to combat Climate Change?
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Layman's version? Eeek! How about this: There are many different ways of producing electricity. The grid uses wires and magnetic fields.

If the wires are fixed and the magnetic field is varied you get a transformer. A device that has no moving parts and is incredibly reliable.

Generation also has magnetic fields and wires but one of the pair will be rotating. Spin the field and keep the wires stationary or spin the wires and keep the field stationary. Both work and both are used, it being a matter of engineering as to which is best or even if they should be used in tandem.

The generators installed at the hydro plant utilise a small and a large device on a common shaft They operate in tandem exploiting the properties of each to produce an optimised solution. The small exciter has a fixed magnetic field and moving wires. The large generator (may also be called an alternator) has a rotating magnetic field and fixed wires.

The rest (outlined in earlier post) is detail mostly to do with how and why.
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Do OVO have any installations of storage heaters controlled by ALCS? Even one would be a start.

Is there any progress from anyone in the industry on the connection of any Consumer Access Device (CAD) to the smart meter home area network?
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I don't think anyone has yet decided to use ALCS.

@BenS_OVO mentioned an OVO CAD here last week. I'm assuming it was an unintentional product announcement but the message wasn't taken down.

There are so many different interpretations of what functionality a CAD has. Here's an example on a diagram from a BEIS leaflet about Smart Meters and Demand Side Response:

So in this instance BEIS is suggesting an alternative to using the inbuilt ALCS when the customer decides not to take advantage of local flexibility in the Distribution Network (because the CAD won't necessarily have access to that data).

Do the designers of these devices intended to implement Demand Side Response actually understand what is and isn't available if they decide to circumvent ALCS?

It seems really odd that Stephen Fitzpatrick is championing the move towards zero carbon whilst the Companies he created are announcing products which make it unduly complex for customers to achieve that.

I know he's stepped back from the position of CEO; but it seems like OVO/Kaluza are now trying to make a profit whilst no longer being led by the prophet!