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OVO makes smart grid play with VCharge acquisition

Energy supplier OVO has opened its chequebook to make its maiden acquisition, paying an undisclosed amount for smart grid developer VCharge.

The US energy technology company will join OVO’s stable and continue its work on a proprietary technology platform that OVO claimed changes the way electricity grids are controlled to allow for greater integration of storage and renewables.

OVO said the deal “underlines” its intent to develop solutions to “harness the disruptive power of technology” to solve problems facing the energy industry.

“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. 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,” Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive at OVO, said.

VCharge’s platform uses algorithms to balance grid requirements with those of individual users, and has so far been used to help control electric heaters in homes facing fuel poverty. Heating controls are installed and controlled via a smartphone which, when coupled with new tariffs, have been proven to help reduce consumer bills.

OVO’s first task for VCharge will be to build on successful trials with social housing landlords in London, Scotland and the north east and offer free heating control upgrades with new OVO smart tariffs for as many as 1.5 million homes in Great Britain.

Toby Ferenczi, managing director at VCharge, said the deal would allow it to realise the company’s vision of transitioning electricity grids towards become solely run on renewable power.

“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,” he said.