OVO SolarStore (Beta) - tell us what you think!

  • 4 October 2017
  • 31 replies

Userlevel 7
OVO Energy are going to be working with Nissan and their great new home batteries, to offer another forward thinking initiative that saves you money!

It’s designed to work for customers with solar panels to capture unused green energy and use it when it’s most needed. Check out this page for more info and some FAQs: https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-solar-store#faq.

We want to know what you think - this kind of energy saving technology is a topic for debate, just like this is a topic for debate - so get involved!

31 replies

Userlevel 7
Like the sound of this @wyedean @HRM @EVMatt @andyfras @Lensev @Fred Rick @fedeABD @zyy333 @icucjamie @geoffenator @Teri :?
Userlevel 2
I love the idea, but I have a Renault Zoe, so it could be some time before it's available for me.
Userlevel 3
I think it is a wonderful, superb, innovative proposal.

The OVO system promises to reduce or overcome the many problems of storing surplus power when generated and recovering when needed. As well as potentially saving the the customer significant cash.

Local area storage using large car batteries offers a brilliant solution. It deserves to be a great success.

Pity I only have a BMW PHEV. (lovely car but....)
Sounds good, I'm interested.
Interesting, and thanks for the link. I have (will have) a Renault Zoe rather than a Nissan so it's not something that I can do immediately. I'll certainly keep watching for further developments either using a car or dedicated battery storage system.
Some of the previous comments seem to me to be missing the point. This is not about car batteries, but HOME batteries - made by Nissan. It doesn't matter which car you drive - or have I missed something?

I'm more concerned with how the costs balance out with the potential savings. Does the total savings in your table (of £590) take into account the cost of the battery and its installation? Since current batteries have a useful life of about 5 years, if that initial cost has to be met by the energy savings, then the sums don't add up. £590 over 5 years would net a total of £2950. The cost of the battery alone is £4800, before installation.

The home storage solution needs a lease model, like the car market already enjoys, where the total lease paid over 5 years is less than the cost of energy saved. Yesterday I listened to a BBC radio 4 program about batteries (The Bottom Line, 5th Oct). Two developments are very exciting in this field. First is the development of new Lithium Sulphur batteries with double the capacity of current Lithium Ion, and also non-toxic disposal. The second is that Centrica are starting to bulk buy 5 year old car batteries to install in a "peaking" plant, to supply homes with instant power in the early evening peak time, when solar and wind power may not be available.
Userlevel 2
@barrybaker - you are absolutely right; I confused the mention of Nissan with other reports that there are plans to allow a Leaf to act as home storage. e.g. http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/vehicle_to_home.html

As an early adopter of solar panels, ours are rated at 1.6kW, so would be even less cost-effective that the OVO model based on 4kW.
@barrybaker - you are absolutely right; I confused the mention of Nissan with other reports that there are plans to allow a Leaf to act as home storage. e.g. http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/vehicle_to_home.html

Well that's a very interesting idea. I hadn't heard of that. It would get around the disadvantage of owning and installing a separate home battery, as long as the car is parked at home and plugged into the solar panels while the sun is shining! Not so good if one is out during the day unfortunately.
I do like the idea of home storage batteries though they are rather expensive at present.

I don't think our household would qualify for SolarStore(Beta) as, although we have 4kW solar array and possibly somewhere to attach a battery, our electricity consumption now exceeds that of the required 'medium' user due to switching both our cars to pure EV's and rarely being able to charge when the panels are producing the best output.

It looks like I won't be an early adopter of vehicle-to-grid technology as it requires the brand new model and I'm hoping to keep my current LEAF for many years, all being well 🙂
Userlevel 3
Am thinking about installing 4Kw solar PV roof, battery / car storage solution. Does OVO have recommended complete system suppliers?
Userlevel 2
We fall short of the minimum annual electricity usage criteria, so it's a non-starter. It would also take quite a bit of calculation to see if there'd ever be a chance of the system paying for itself (the figures being quoted are too general). Having the export credit set at the retail price is attractive, but we'd be exporting less anyway, in favour of charging the battery. And we're not impressed by the idea that the battery credit could be withdrawn after the first year. If I was minded to go down the battery route, I'd go for a smaller unit; not bother with any grid interaction; and switch away from OVO in favour of supplier with a zero standing charge tariff.
Userlevel 1
I like this idea, but would it work with other batteries?

I'm not in a position to do so, but hopefully in the future i'd like solar + battery storage, if I win the lottery tesla tiles + polar wall, does ovo only work with its own battery storage or will it be open to use customers, or even in the future will it be looking to expand and supply different types of battery?

a few questions, its a long way off for me, but its something i'm interested in.

I'd second @Fred Rick's question, does ovo have any recommended installers, so far solar to me is a bit of minefield, ikea has an interesting way of guessing costs, but ideally i'd rarther pay a little more (not too much more!) and get higher quality panels/battery
We have 20 kw of LION battery storage already on our other electricity supply. I prefer to use what we generate on site to offset our overnight consumption rather than than supply back to the grid.
Userlevel 1
On the face of it this is a move in the right direction.

Will you see a return on a £5k plus investment. The savings figure is for year one with no gaurantee that the scheme will run beyond that point. Worse case scenario is that the scheme is cancelled and you are then on increased consumption from the battery as the only payback on the initial outlay.

On it's own that does not encourage me to partake.

Some further points.

It would be really useful to have a view on the export figures on an installation. Does Ovo have this data where a smart meter is installed?

The battery size seems quite small. This battery would be completely used overnight during winter. A bigger battery would help during those time when you get a good day followed by 2 poor days.

My 3.99Kwh installation has a daily output that varies between less than 0.5Kwh on the greyest January day up to 29Kwh in the summer. The battery probably will only see an input from the panels around 30% of the time in winter.

For the size of the battery the price seems quite high. Are Ovo looking at other manufacturers to partner with?
Thanks for getting involved @didge05

At the moment, customers won't have access to this data, but we’ll be working on how we can share your battery’s activity with you in the future.

We don't have any plans to change our manufacturer - however we do appreciate our customers will want to get the best deal possible and this is always something we'll bear in mind.

Like others I
1) question the return on investment (ROI) and solidness of the scheme (will it be left behind in 5 years time).
2) is this the same scheme that Nissan advertise (Xstorage), they are working with Eaton for that and I can't see any mention of OVO?
3) I think a month or so ago you were offering a scheme/tarif with Polar for EV drivers - is this still the case (apologies if it is not Polar!).
4) does this battery system allow power during power cuts - I know my solar panels are not allowed to "work" during a power cut?
5) If you only have 9 panels/2.25kW does this presumably means a lower ROI
6) Have you got any work examples or a calculator you could publish to explain the whole thing better
e.g. Jack has 8 panels and a Nissan Leaf doing 10,000 miles a year etc. He normally charges his car at work or the supermarket. He may be moving house in the next 3 years.
Jill has 16 panels, a new 40kWh Nissan Leaf and does 8000 miles, she has economy-7.
Userlevel 1
I am interested in battery storage. However, a significant criterion for me is that the unit can be installed on an outside wall. I do not have any internal walls where such a unit could be installed without major inconvenience or disruption. However, I have plenty of space on outside walls.

The Tesla battery unit can be installed externally, but not the Nissan unit apparently. That is a major deficiency to my mind.
Dear Tim, thank you for your pitch.

My solar panel array already feeds into Ovo energy. I got quite excited about the prospect of your Ovo solarstore beta but I then started to read the fine print and my ardour cooled somewhat.

We have a 5.67 Kwh system - strike 1
We have 3 phase supply - strike 2
We use a lot of electricity - Ground source heat pump heating a big old house, two green cars - a pure EV and a PHEV, yet you limit this to one small 4.8Kwh battery - strike 3

The pricing of the Nissan x-storage installation vis a vis it's storage capacity and warranted lifespan compared to a Tesla powerwall 2 doesn't stack up, especially as others have mentioned you will be affecting the number of cycles as well as only guaranteeing one year of use.

For those reasons, I'm out. Shame, as it had a lot of promise.
Userlevel 5
Appreciate your thoughts on this @saintagnes. We’re hoping to address some of the points you’ve raised at a later date, and this may change the eligibility criteria but for now, I'm afraid the there won't be any amendments made just yet.

Thank you Lucy. I have a Tesla Powerwall 2 on order so let's see later on this year. For the record I think OVO are right up there in terms of doing innovative stuff for green customers in the UK so this wasn't meant as a negative or a downer, more that there are some of us consumers trying to do the right thing or spearhead changes so it can get a little frustrating when you get excluded. Good luck with the beta.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hmm, there's quite a range of opinion being aired here. Very interesting.

@Pete632 writes
If I was minded to go down the battery route, I'd go for a smaller unit;

whilst @didge05 says
The battery size seems quite small.... A bigger battery would help

I tend to favour @didge05's stance. 4.2kWh is pretty small.

A full Nissan Leaf floorpan contains 48 battery stacks of 4-cells. Each stack has its own micro-controller to regulate charge/discharge cycles. If you want to see one being dissected, have a look at this YouTube clip. The total capacity used in the Leaf has increased over the years and is currently 24kWh, with 40kWh being advertised.

The XStorage unit being promoted by OVO as its SolarStore uses 5(?) of these Li-ion stacks with a different micro-controller arrangement to deliver a usable 4.2kWh.

If you had a typical 4kWh PV solar array on your roof, it would fill the available capacity of the SolarStore in just 36 minutes.

So there is a small benefit with using output from an existing PV array to be stored in your house rather than it being exported out to the grid. But equally, I could store far more of the energy for my own use by installing a typical 250-litre thermal store running underfloor heating (UFH) and inputting the solar energy via a 3kW immersion heater. OK, I'd still need a controller to sequentially turn on the heater dependent on the output of the PV panels, but those are readily available.

I understand why the utility companies need us to be installing home batteries, which I've written more about here.

However it will need far bigger storage and a better tariff scheme to persuade the general public to make the investment.

A modular XStorage system might work. You could initially buy/lease one battery unit which contains the inverter, charge-controller and internet link back to OVO's central control system; and you could then buy additional "dumb" boxes which simply increase the overall capacity. The Tesla PowerWall offers such a feature and has a far more useful capacity of 13.5kWh per box.

What OVO are doing right is to control a wide network of batteries from their own in-house algorithms. This enables them to offer the stored charge back to the grid when it is most needed to balance the dips from renewable sources. Moreover, the stored charge is already "out there", where the balancing is required, rather than needing to be fed across the grid from a central power station.

The investment by OVO in this battery-network control system is by far the most important part of the project. What we are seeing as the physical battery in our home isn't the precious bit.

Finally, in response to @RichardC's point 4
does this battery system allow power during power cuts - I know my solar panels are not allowed to "work" during a power cut?
I don't think you can use the stored charge in a power cut. The XStorage box will be certified G83 which means that grid-connected equipment must disconnect during power-failure. Not only could it no longer synchronize to the 50Hz master-clock of the grid, but even when power is restored it must delay a random period of around 10 minutes before it reconnects.

If this were not so, whenever power was restored to an area, there would be a massive surge as every grid-connected renewable energy source simultaneously fed back to the grid.... the very opposite of the balancing we're trying to achieve in the UK!

Hi, I think this is a fantastic idea, but the numbers don't stack up unless you're happy to take a big risk on Ovo stopping paying the export credit after a year and the batteries giving up after five years. Using Ovo's numbers break even is just after nine years not taking account of the interest you could earn if you kept the cash in the bank. I think Ovo are leaving their options open in terms of how best to compensate the customer for balancing the grid rather than planning to run away after a year, but the Ts&Cs could be read that way.

Eaton's website has some useful PDFs and a ROI calculator https://bidmanager.eaton.com/BmWeb/main.html#/takeoff/ROICALC/ROICALC//////?bidmanwebto=1&bmid=f9bdd53f-ba57-47f7-915c-cb572525af7b&env=2&salesid=AD98&appcomponentid=LGTO&takeoffcode=ROICALC which gives some interesting numbers especially the one for "FIT & Frequency regulation" which is higher than Ovo's, though it doesn't say what the number is based on.
On the topic of emergency back up power, the unit does appear to have "AC out" for a "Critical load", but whether that would be connected under the terms of the Ovo installation isn't clear.

You should switch over to sustainable energy – and you should encourage your town, city and community to do the same. But should it be solar or wind power? It turns out there are very compelling arguments for both solar and wind power as sustainable energy sources to take over from traditional fossil fuels that are being used now – and steadily running out as a resource.
Exactly i am agreeing with u steeveell. sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.