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Smart Grid  
10 February 2017

Britain’s Ovo Energy announces US smart grid acquisition

Independent British energy supplier Ovo Energy has announced its acquisition of US smart grid start-up VCharge.

In its move to acquire manufacturer of intelligent infrastructure for transactive electric loads VCharge, Ovo Energy aims to moves away from its decades-old model of centralised generation and supply to a distributed energy system.

The acquisition is also said to aid the energy supplier to connect more renewable energy resources which are typically intermittent to electricity networks. [Ovo Energy contracts Trojan utilities for supply of smart metering solution]

VCharge has developed algorithms calibrated to better manage households' use of electric storage heaters, which typically heat up bricks during the night and then store heat for release when needed during the day.

"We believe this platform will harness the potential of energy storage in reducing dependency on fossil fuels," said Ovo's chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick.

According to a release, independent energy suppliers like Ovo Energy have poached millions of customers from incumbent players by offering lower priced deals and more efficient services. Ovo now counts nearly 700,000 customers in Britain and made a profit for the first time last year. It wants to reach the one-million customer mark this or next year.

Trialing VCharge technology

The release adds that VCharge's electricity heating systems were recently tested in British social housing buildings, allowing residents to control electric heaters via smartphones and save money by using electricity when it is cheapest.

Ovo said it would use VCharge's technology to offer free heating control upgrades to customers using electric storage heating in combination with a new energy tariff tailored to customers' usage.

Peers that have invested in new energy technologies include Britain's largest energy supplier, Centrica, which last year acquired Neas Energy, a Danish company that manages power supply for distributed energy customers, for 170 million pounds ($213 million). [Ovo Energy launches full service prepaid energy platform]

 

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