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Ovo trial lets customers power homes with an electric car – but will it cut energy bills?

Limited: The trial is only open to drivers of Volkswagen electric vehicles - for now

Ovo says EV owners can save hundreds of dollars on their bills by powering their homes with their CAR…but it could take years for most to see the benefits

  • Ovo says users can save £800 a year by selling power from their electric cars
  • But the program relies on installing expensive and hard-to-find chargers first
  • The trial is also only open to Ovo customers with Volkswagen electric cars.

Electric car owners may be able to save hundreds of pounds on energy bills with a new Ovo Energy trial – but only if they manage to get a rare and expensive charger fitted first.

The Ovo trial, which launches today, exploits the fact that electric cars are essentially just a giant battery on wheels.

The idea is that if you charge your car using cheap off-peak power, you can make money two ways: by using that peak-hour electricity to power your home, and by selling it back to the grid. nationwide for profit.

But the question of who pays for the £6,000 worth of chargers needed to run the system – Ovo or the customer – could see any energy bill savings wiped out for years.

Limited: The trial is only open to drivers of Volkswagen electric vehicles - for now

Limited: The trial is only open to drivers of Volkswagen electric vehicles – for now

Ovo ran a limited trial of the scheme from 2020 to 2022, and some users have managed to save up to £800 a year on their energy bills.

But drivers will need to install a special charger in their homes before they can save money on their energy bills, and this time they may have to pay themselves.

Normal electric car chargers allow current to flow one way through a vehicle. Recovering energy from an electric car battery requires a “two-way” charger.

These chargers are almost impossible to find, and most UK homes have fitted them for free from companies testing the technology – like Ovo did in 2020-22.

But Ovo is tight-lipped about whether it will pay for the special chargers to be installed this time or whether it expects consumers to pay instead. The energy company said any power savings wouldn’t come until much later this year and it “won’t be sharing the final details on that” at this time.

special section electric cars

Electric car expert Ginny Buckley, of the website Electrifying, said that in general “consumers are not yet in a position to buy two-way chargers”. This Is Money managed to find a company selling two-way chargers, but these cost £5,990.

Coventry-based Voltacon said its Quasar charger is “the world’s first two-way home charger”.

If trial participants have to pay for this special charger, it could be years before they see the benefits in their energy bills, unless they are lucky enough to have one already installed. one at home.

The program is currently only open to Ovo customers who own Volkswagen electric cars, but the energy company hopes to expand it to owners of other automakers in the future.

Ovo’s “vehicle-to-everything” power trial, called Inflexion, is underway with energy software company Kaluza.

The government is also investing £16 million in this technology.

Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “We want to make smart charging an easier choice for electric vehicle drivers, whether charging in the driveway, on the workplace or parked on the street. To do this, we must quickly build new network infrastructures, using the latest technologies available.

Alex Thwaites, Head of Zero Carbon Living at Ovo Energy, said: “It’s not just about advancing renewable energy solutions, it’s about demonstrating how customers can actually reduce their energy bills. energy by switching to an electric vehicle.”

Customers can express interest in the trial by visiting Ovo’s website.

If it can be made affordable for customers, this type of scheme could be a big part of the future of electric car ownership in the UK.

Buckley said: “We see this becoming an important part of demand side management on the UK grid as more of us switch to electric cars and switch to renewable energy generation.”

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