Ovo Energy Helps Consumers Go Off-Grid

Independent energy supplier Ovo Energy aims to help communities generate their own energy.
Published: Fri 02 May 2014

Ovo Energy, one of the UK’s fastest growing independent energy suppliers, is launching a package of services which are designed help consumers generate their own power instead of relying on the centralised grid.

Handing power back to the communities

The company is aiming to make the process of going off-grid even easier so that consumers can generate and consume their own power.

The independent energy supplier says it is responding to customers who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the UK’s “Big Six” utilities. A recent YouGov survey shows that three times more people believed they would get a fairer deal from a community-based energy supplier than a large company answerable to big City shareholders.

Ovo Energy has established a new division, Ovo Communities, which aims to support up to 200 new independent community-led energy generators by the end of the decade. The company has invested in systems that can be scaled up to give community groups, local authorities and housing associations the tools they need to run a utility business.

Ovo Energy is aiming to bring up to 500 new power providers onstream by 2020.

Government support

The UK government is in support of community-owned energy projects and has even recently launched a Community Energy strategy with the aim of developing community-owned energy projects. The aim of this is to increase competition in the energy market. However, many critics say that prospective community-based energy developers are still faced with many technical and legislative barriers.

The launch of Ovo Energy’s new service, which follows the launch late last week of a new initiative from the Mayor of London's office to support local generation projects, has received support from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

Says Mr Davey: “Ovo's initiative is good news for energy consumers and shows that the independent suppliers who've grown so much in the last few years are stepping up the competition with the large energy companies. Helping local people take control of their power supply fits very much with our community energy vision, opening up energy markets to smaller companies and community organisations."

Small is beautiful

Ovo chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick, says that many in the energy industry believe that there is still a need for big, centralised energy companies to keep the lights on. But, he explains that his company, launched five years ago, proves that “small can be beautiful.” He expands: “We run a more efficient business, with happier customers and lower prices. We now supply just over one per cent of the UK market, and are growing quickly. Now we want to share our knowledge and expertise to encourage others to follow our lead."

The new platform will be supported by new energy services from Ovo, including smart meter installations, energy efficiency upgrades, and tailored billing and customer services for community projects.

Mr Fritz says that Ovo Energy is aiming to emulate the success enjoyed by community-owned energy projects in Germany, where 65% of renewable energy capacity is now owned by communities or individuals.

Ovo Energy’s initiative can only mean good news for energy consumers as they can look forward to more options, cheaper tariffs and reducing their carbon footprint. Independent suppliers are growing substantially and are creating a very competitive market. The large energy companies will need to revise traditional business models if they are to keep up. [Read: Engerati-Smart Energy-The Return To A Localised Energy System].

Says Mr Fritz: "The UK energy market is on the cusp of a revolution. The country is disillusioned with the current big six and in dire need of a new model. Something needs to be done to create a greener, fairer market for everyone. We only have to look to Europe to see that not only is community energy widespread, it has also been incredibly successful."