VCharge heating controls can be fitted to new or existing electric storage heaters and controlled via a smartphone
Ovo Energy has bought US smart grid start-up VCharge for an undisclosed sum. The deal marks its first acquisition since the company was set up in 2009.
According to Ovo, VCharge has developed a proprietary technology platform that changes how electric grids are controlled in preparation for the rapid transition to renewable energy and energy storage, helping to solve the problem of renewables intermittency.
Its technology uses advanced algorithms to balance grid requirements with individual user requirements. The first application of the technology is used to control electric storage heating in social housing to better manage resident comfort and to address the issue of fuel poverty in local communities, while simultaneously supporting the widespread adoption of renewable energy by providing valuable grid balancing services.
“VCharge’s vision is to help electricity grids around the world with the transition to becoming 100 per cent renewable, as the cost of renewable energy becomes more competitive with that of unsustainable fossil fuels,” said Toby Ferenczi, managing director, VCharge. “Joining forces with OVO will dramatically accelerate how quickly we can achieve this goal, and will also enable us to address other important issues such as alleviating fuel poverty in the UK.”
VCharge heating controls can be fitted to new or existing electric storage heaters and controlled via a smartphone. When coupled with a new smart tariff, residents experience improved comfort, lower bills and have control over their heating systems for the first time, the company claims.
“I’m thrilled to bring VCharge into the Ovo family. The team have been doing incredibly exciting and important work in developing technologies that answer the enormous challenge of how to bring more renewable energy to grids around the world,” added Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Ovo. “We believe this platform will harness the potential of energy storage in reducing dependency on fossil fuels, while helping to make energy more affordable for all.”
VCharge said it has completed a number of successful trials of the technology over the last year with major social housing landlords in London, Scotland and the North East. In partnership with Ovo it plans to offer free heating control upgrades combined with a new smart energy tariff to 1.5m households in Great Britain with electric storage heaters later this year.
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