Octopus Energy grows largest UK virtual power plant to slash bills

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Octopus Energy says its “virtual power plant” is helping to deliver clean electricity to the grid which can “bring down bills for everyone”. The UK’s third largest energy provider has a smart tariff – Intelligent Octopus – which allows customers with the Octopus Energy app to set the time (and amount) they want their electric vehicle (EV) charged by. This then automatically charges the cars when there is abundant, with low-cost, clean energy.

When there is less strain on the grid, the company says it helps balance out demand and supply on the network.

This comes as National Grid warns about pressure on the grid becoming so intense that it may have to roll out organised blackouts this winter if temperatures plummet while energy imports from Europe drop.

As one of its operational tools to avoid this emergency worst-case scenario, the grid has previously warmed up coal-fired power plants to provide a backup source of power. According to Octopus Energy, this is “paid for by consumers through their energy bills”.

But because Intelligent Octopus automatically identifies the best times for the grid to charge the cars, it “limits the need for expensive grid balancing costs”.

An Octopus spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “With our platform Kraken’s help, we’re able to automatically identify the best times for the grid to charge the cars on our tariff to ensure they use green energy when it’s abundant and shift demand out of peak times.

“By doing so, we can limit the need for expensive grid balancing costs – such as firing up reserve coal plants – which are paid for by consumers through their energy bills and help the grid save on system costs.”

Today, the company has announced that the combined capacity of car batteries on the tariff has now surpassed 100MW. This is enough energy to power a city the size of Leicester for an hour. The firm describes the tariff as a virtual power plant that shifts “demand out of peak times and therefore cutting bills for everyone”.

Octopus claims the tariff also allows an average driver to charge their EV for less than a third of what it would cost to charge up on a standard variable tariff, reducing fuel costs to about 3p per mile.

In fact, it could save EV drivers up to £760 a year on charging in a huge win for petrol-free motorists.

Alex Schoch, Head of Flexibility at Octopus Energy, said: “We urgently need to build flexible grid technology to turbocharge the green energy system.

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“The tariff acts as a virtual power plant, shifting demand out of peak times and therefore cutting bills for everyone.

“As more electric cars take the road and steal market share from old-school gas-guzzlers, we need even more solutions like Intelligent Octopus to handle the extra devices, increase the grid’s resilience and promote a green energy future.”

Customers can sign up to Intelligent Octopus in minutes through the Octopus Energy app. For more information, customers can head to the Octopus Energy website.

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