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Will Behind-the-Meter Flexibility Be A Defining Characteristic of ’New Energy’ Suppliers?


Flexibility markets across Europe continue to develop rapidly, as evidenced by some of the recent developments profiled in the latest Markets Insights report published by our Flexibility Research Service. 

One of these developments is the recent launch by OVO Energy (one of the larger UK suppliers outside the traditional ‘big 6’) of three new 'OVO' branded products: a home battery, an EV smart charger and what OVO claims is the world's first residential V2G consumer unit. We think this is a credible claim – there's no other wall hung units like this on the market that we know about. Yet…

All of the products work with OVO's VCharge platform for residential demand side response (DSR), and the company's vision is evidently to use this platform to unlock values for both their customer and themselves. It's all very exciting stuff and in our view it's absolutely what ’New Energy’ energy suppliers should be doing. 

However, it's important not to get caught up in the hype and plethora of marketing either. Incorporating behind-the-meter flexibility into residential customer propositions is not a quick or simple game to get into because:

  • Homeowner adoption of new technologies is growing but will take years to reach mass market
  • New technologies sold today (and the vast majority of existing assets) are not plug-and-play in terms of integration to platforms that can monetise flexibility
  • ‘Flexibility propositions' are only starting to emerge for homeowners, meaning that awareness and engagement is one step behind.
  • Behavioural change in customers is not easy, even when incentives exist, and acquiring customers at scale will be hard.
  • And last certainly not least, regulatory changes create uncertainty around the value streams that exist for available flexibility.

Indeed, it's sensible to see OVO's launch as the first step of a much longer journey. While the V2G charger is the first in the UK, cleverly leveraging OVO Energy’s Innovate UK project win, they have offered the charger for free to 1000 of their customers in return for a discounted energy bill (with OVO owning and managing the charger), i.e. it's not yet a commercial launch. Product prices and sustainable customer propositions have still to be defined and achieving this will be the next big step in the journey. 

While there's lots of progress being achieved by OVO and other players as flexibility moves to the core of the energy supply business, many questions remain unanswered. And that's where Delta-ee's Flexibility Research Service research comes in - see here to find out more.

And to answer the question in the title? Of course the answer is YES. If you disagree feel free to let me know!

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