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Author Topic: First report regarding the OVO SolarStore (Beta) program  (Read 4345 times)
RIT
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« on: October 25, 2017, 07:20:12 PM »

When OVO announced their SolarStore program I signed up for Site Survey.

The idea is that a PV enabled consumer purchases a Nissan xStorage device from OVO and goes on a special contract that gives OVO access to the capacity of battery so that it can do things like grid balancing, which playing a monthly fee to the consumer. As well as the monthly fee the contract also basically gives the consumer true net-metering where they get full credit for every kWh of exported energy from their PV system.

Today I had the site visit from the installation company that OVO will be using. The person sent was Part-P qualified and had been given some training on the xStorage device so was able to explain the basic requirements. The only real issues came from the work sheet he had to work from.

The first issue came from the very first question - "Does the consumer require a new CU", which after taking a quick look at my 30 year+ CU he instantly ticked yes. I then challenged this by asking why as the installation would be using a current spur + additional CU or via the installation of a Henley Block + additional CU - so there would be little interaction with the current CU. There was also no indication that a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (E.I.C.R.) would be carried out before trying to change the CU, which is common practice.

The work sheet was also raising issues about loft installations due to the additional heat that the xStorage would give off. Something that is a little strange as the specs of the thing claim 90%+ efficiency so the level of generated heat should not be that great. I can also show the temperature in the loft as I have all the recorded date from my current inverter that is located up there.


So with the report done I now wait to see if OVO wishes to that thing to the next stage. I have to say that when you combine the current marketing info, FAQs and published T&Cs the whole thing is a non-starter, but the whole point of this is that it is a beta project so things may change. Its also clear that the whole process is new to OVO and I was expecting them to have farmed the whole thing out to a third party who would then take ownership of the product sale and installation, but instead it seems that the customer-facing 'seller' will, in fact, be OVO. This is going to cause a few challenges as OVO are not currently signed up to RECC (Renewable Energy Consumer Code) and so are currently not providing the type of information provided by RECC members.

As noted this is all beta, as and if I hear from them I'll post an update.
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 08:05:58 AM »

Similar thoughts here, as I had a site survey on Monday.

They had very specific measurements for the unit, so there doesn't seem to be a choice of battery. I thought there might be as the FAQ's say this:

Quote
How long is my battery warranty?

Your warranty is between you and the manufacturer of the battery, which may vary depending on which one you buy.

So a very high price for a 4.2kWh battery.

I've now asked the helpdesk for some clarification on their right to change the deal (battery & export credit) after one year, since that could ... in the very worst circumstances .... be seen as a 'bait and switch' scam, since the battery appears to be overpriced, but this is 'accepted' because of the suggestion of annual income. Remove the income, and you are left holding the baby battery.

Quote
After your first year, we’ll review OVO SolarStore (Beta) to see if we can make any improvements. This means that the Battery Credit and Export Credit could change, but we’ll let you know at least 30 days before any change.

So far I've had no responses to any questions sent to their helpdesk, though I have answered a question myself regarding battery losses from their use, the T&C's say the cost falls on the householder:

Quote
(ii) a monthly export credit to your energy account for any solar energy exported rather than being used, or stored in the battery for later use, and the credit of any additional electricity that is drawn and subsequently exported back to the grid (exclusive of battery round trip losses) for national grid balancing or energy trading activities that enable us to provide you with your Battery Credit. For example, if your export meter shows 100 kWh of energy has been exported, and you are an OVO Energy ‘Better Energy" customer (with a unit rate of 14.7p per kWh as of 16.09.2017), then your Export Credit will equal 100 * 0.147 = £14.70.

So if they put 1,000kWh's in, pushing your import bill up by £147, then discharging 900kWh's will 'only' get you a credit of £132.30.

Early days, so not complaining about the company, but I'm not sure anyone would jump in at this stage, based on the package and rules currently laid out.
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RIT
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 01:15:36 PM »

I guess that OVO are now up the proverbial creek without a paddle. As they are writing dedicated firmware for the AC charger they must have made a product choice some time ago and when Nissan first talked about the xStorage device around March last year the indicated price was a lot lower. Since then their price has jumped while products like the Powerwall II have shown up. The end result is that the proposed xStorage device is just about the most costly product on the market in terms of 'cost per warrantied kWh of storage' as the proposed xStorage device only manages 7,665 kWh over its 5 year warranty at one cycle per day, with no quoted level of energy retention at the end of the warrant. This compares very poorly against the Powerall II which in this application has a throughput limit of 37,800 kWh and 80% energy retention.

The wording of the FAQs and T&Cs are at time fun to read as they seem to have been put together by someone who does not understand consumer law. As with your example that reads "Your warranty is between you and the manufacturer of the battery". They seem to be missing the small point that a consumer has the right to deal with the seller of the product, which makes things far more OVO's problem if things go wrong.

Its also not clear from the FAQ/T&Cs and the site visit what type of system is to be installed - AC or DC. The T&Cs require that the consumer waive their FIT Export payments which is a DC requirement, while the site visit was focussed on the cabling required for a AC installation.

As you have noted the 10% round trip efficiency loss is a big issue and second in my question list. The first is the fact that OVO will during their daily operations will totally destroy the warranty of the xStorage device. If they store overnight to help with the morning demand and the same thing happens in the evening due to stored PV energy being used by the consumer or OVO the life of the warranty drops to 2.5 years. OVO could if they wanted charge/discharge many times a day, which would itself be profitable as OVO pays no depreciation costs for the equipment and the consumer covers the cost of the efficiency losses at consumer rates.

The current worse case is that they walk away from the project at the end of the first year having wiped out the warranty on the xStorage device. The best case seems to be that they walk away after a year having paid out a few £100 to the consumer while having only used up an additional year of the warranty.

At the moment it all feels like many of the IT projects I have worked on, or depended on. So I have every expectation that we we will over time see beta 2.0 and then beta 3.0 as they receive 'strong' feedback.

 
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 01:32:52 PM by RIT » Logged

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djh
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 04:07:58 PM »

The T&Cs require that the consumer waive their FIT Export payments which is a DC requirement

Would you mind explaining that a bit? I don't see the connection between FIT export payments and DC?
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2017, 04:53:13 PM »

Hiya RIT. I have to say I like the basic idea, but not the deal on offer here. In fact I think it's too good on the income side, as I'd make out like a bandit on the export payments - I currently export about 3,000kWh's and get paid for 2,250kWh's at 3.3p. If I consume an extra 1,000kWh thanks to the batt, I get paid for 2,000 export at 14.7p, plus the £350 battery credit for the right to 'use' my battery.

I say it's too good, because I can't see how they'd get their money back, hence why I'd expect a serious adjustment after 1 year.

If the batt was half the price and the income was half as much, I'd be less suspicious.

But, the idea is good, there is a scheme in the UK you can join gridshare where you get paid for the leccy you sell to the grid at peak from the battery.

I'm sure more options will appear over time, and as batt costs fall, some extra income from grid support services will swing 'economic viability' a little earlier.
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RIT
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 11:11:11 PM »

The T&Cs require that the consumer waive their FIT Export payments which is a DC requirement

Would you mind explaining that a bit? I don't see the connection between FIT export payments and DC?

The idea of this trial is to OVO to charge and discharge battery as and when they need so grid energy will be used to do much of the charging. A DC battery is one that takes the DC output from the PV panels as one of its inputs and then feeds any generated AC energy out to the home/grid. The issue is that the FITs check meter would end up recording both the energy generated via the PV and any energy that has been taken from the grid to charge the battery that is then released back to the AC grid.

So in the UK market place a DC battery solution causes problems with all FITs payments if it can be charged from both the PV and the Grid. An AC system such as the Telsa Powerwall II does not have this issue as it sits beyond the FITs check meter so the check meter only records the PV output.
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RIT
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 11:33:52 PM »

Hiya RIT. I have to say I like the basic idea, but not the deal on offer here. In fact I think it's too good on the income side, as I'd make out like a bandit on the export payments - I currently export about 3,000kWh's and get paid for 2,250kWh's at 3.3p. If I consume an extra 1,000kWh thanks to the batt, I get paid for 2,000 export at 14.7p, plus the £350 battery credit for the right to 'use' my battery.

I say it's too good, because I can't see how they'd get their money back, hence why I'd expect a serious adjustment after 1 year.

If the batt was half the price and the income was half as much, I'd be less suspicious.

But, the idea is good, there is a scheme in the UK you can join gridshare where you get paid for the leccy you sell to the grid at peak from the battery.

I'm sure more options will appear over time, and as batt costs fall, some extra income from grid support services will swing 'economic viability' a little earlier.

The other side of the equation is that you have just spent £4,800 on the xStorage device (plus installation) and granted OVO the right to use it as they see fit. It is clear that they are aware of the benefits of offering net metering to consumers with PV as they limit the maximum installation size to 5,000W.

For this to work at all for OVO, they must expect to make hard use of the xStorage device, but they can only put though 7,665 kWh before wiping out the device's warranty. Even with your figures (which are better than mine as my PV system is smaller) how many years do you expect it to take before the payments would recover the device and installation costs.
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2017, 07:42:48 AM »

Hiya RIT. I have to say I like the basic idea, but not the deal on offer here. In fact I think it's too good on the income side, as I'd make out like a bandit on the export payments - I currently export about 3,000kWh's and get paid for 2,250kWh's at 3.3p. If I consume an extra 1,000kWh thanks to the batt, I get paid for 2,000 export at 14.7p, plus the £350 battery credit for the right to 'use' my battery.

I say it's too good, because I can't see how they'd get their money back, hence why I'd expect a serious adjustment after 1 year.

If the batt was half the price and the income was half as much, I'd be less suspicious.

But, the idea is good, there is a scheme in the UK you can join gridshare where you get paid for the leccy you sell to the grid at peak from the battery.

I'm sure more options will appear over time, and as batt costs fall, some extra income from grid support services will swing 'economic viability' a little earlier.

The other side of the equation is that you have just spent £4,800 on the xStorage device (plus installation) and granted OVO the right to use it as they see fit. It is clear that they are aware of the benefits of offering net metering to consumers with PV as they limit the maximum installation size to 5,000W.

For this to work at all for OVO, they must expect to make hard use of the xStorage device, but they can only put though 7,665 kWh before wiping out the device's warranty. Even with your figures (which are better than mine as my PV system is smaller) how many years do you expect it to take before the payments would recover the device and installation costs.

Hiya. With their deal, and the battery pack size, I'm not sure I'd get the money back. I'd need about 6-7yrs, but those will be hard years for such a pack.

Glad you noticed the 5kWp bit too, that also raised alarm bells for me, as it suggests they know that'll cost more in export. When I filled out the application, I ticked no to 'under 5kWp', then said 5.58kWp E/W in the comment box, adding that generation was roughly equal to 4.5kWp south facing. The surveyors picked up on it, but I explained that peak never exceeds 4.9kW, and sustained is 4.2kW on a very good day.

There's definitely something interesting here, but not what's on offer. Hopefully the package will get re-jigged and revised. If they allowed your own batt, and say £200 pa for using it and a 10yr contract then I'd be more interested, and perhaps research a PWII.

What excites me more, is what might come next, rather than this first, rather odd looking deal from OVO.


I'm also concerned that two e-mails to -

"Got any further questions? Just email us at storage.project @ovoenergy.com"

have now gone unanswered, whilst the application, survey etc stages are flying past.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 07:46:37 AM by M » Logged

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Ted
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2017, 11:11:28 AM »

If I am understanding this correctly then if OVO are placing the battery on the DC side of the installation then the homeowner would lose the main FiT payment as well as the export element.

OFGEM have guidance on which battery setups are acceptable and which aren't.  Having a battery on the DC side is OK only if there is charge going to the battery solely from the on-site renewables. If there is charge going to it from the grid then the site would no longer be eligible for FiTs as the generation meter would no longer be correctly recording.

It may be possible to design a system that does DC -> AC -> DC -> AC and place the battery and gen meter appropriately but that doesn't sound like what OVO are doing (not least because you would need to double-up on the inverters).  The only acceptable design, where there is more than a single charge input to the battery, is to have the battery on the AC side of the inverter(s) and downstream of the gen meter.

Under current guidance there is no need for the owner to lose deemed export with a correctly configured system.

From OFGEM:
Quote
4.30. If the configuration of the installation is such that the non-eligible electricity may be used to calculate FIT payments, FIT licensees should conclude that any meter readings supplied would not reflect accurately the electricity generated by the installation. An acceptable alternative is for the generation meter to be wired after the inverter but before the battery, and to either opt out of export or have it deemed.

4.31. If the generation meter is wired after the battery, and/or the FIT generator is claiming export calculated by reference to an export meter that is wired after the battery, it will not be possible to determine that all FIT Export meter reads are in relation to electricity generated by the FIT Installation. Because of this, FIT export payments cannot be made.

4.32. If there is any doubt as to the configuration of the metering arrangements, close attention should be paid to the anticipated meter readings and whether or not they fall within the expected tolerance limits. This could be seen as an indicator of whether or not a battery or energy storage device is in use and a driver for the licensee to seek further information from the generator.

4.33. Where FIT licensees are made aware of other scenarios where a battery or storage device is used and they are unsure as to whether the installation is eligible for payments, they should contact the FIT Compliance Team.

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2017/05/fit_guidance_for_licensed_electricity_suppliers_v9.pdf
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2017, 02:29:11 PM »

Hiya Ted. It's an AC side battery installation that will feed from / into the consumer unit directly. But as part of the deal, you have to sign over your export element from the FiT as with this system all export will be paid for / credited against your energy bill at the import rate of 14.7p/kWh.
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A.L.
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2017, 03:32:45 PM »

hello,

But as part of the deal, you have to sign over your export element from the FiT as with this system all export will be paid for / credited against your energy bill at the import rate of 14.7p/kWh.

- Technically I think you simply give up your right to the Export Tariff, you do not 'hand it over' (to OVO)? You can change your export status once per year http://www.fitariffs.co.uk/FITs/principles/export/ so can get it back again.  fingers crossed!

- Also I see that it is not currently available in Scotland
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 03:35:51 PM by A.L. » Logged
RIT
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2017, 03:41:28 PM »

Hiya Ted. It's an AC side battery installation that will feed from / into the consumer unit directly. But as part of the deal, you have to sign over your export element from the FiT as with this system all export will be paid for / credited against your energy bill at the import rate of 14.7p/kWh.

That's seems to be the idea, but its not how the T&Cs are worded. The T&Cs are worded as "In line with FIT scheme regulations this waiver is required because the electricity exported by your Battery could affect the measurement of the amount of electricity you export.". This wording would in part be valid if the system was a DC solution, but then all FITs payments would need to be waved rather than just the export payment. As it is this wording has no regulations to back it up, which is odd as it means that you just don't opt out as Ofgen has no reason to start an investigation if an AC system is deployed.

What I have not been able to find out is - is their now in place a FITs export payment system in place for generators that use battery storage as part of their design. If so it would correctly explain this T&C requirement, but if so OVO should clearly state the fact that they will be receiving a payment for all exported energy. If so this just makes the whole thing, even more, one sided than it already is. It would also mean that any Ofgen investigation would be against OVO rather than the consumer.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2017, 07:24:18 PM »

Does the OVO system include an export meter?
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RIT
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2017, 07:39:35 PM »

Does the OVO system include an export meter?

Not the way in which the installers are planning for. The background is that the xStorage device can be deployed in both DC and AC configurations as it has a PV inverter within its design. So in a OVO, DC configuration you would lose all FIT payments as the battery is cycling grid energy while in AC configuration you 'should' be able to retain them.
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 08:54:47 AM »

Does the OVO system include an export meter?

Ah. Now I have a different take on this to RIT. My understanding is that all export is recorded and credited to your energy account at import rates. That's why the battery efficiency losses will 'cost' the consumer, when OVO use it for storage/arbitrage.

Quote
(ii) a monthly export credit to your energy account for any solar energy exported rather than being used, or stored in the battery for later use, and the credit of any additional electricity that is drawn and subsequently exported back to the grid (exclusive of battery round trip losses) for national grid balancing or energy trading activities that enable us to provide you with your Battery Credit. For example, if your export meter shows 100 kWh of energy has been exported, and you are an OVO Energy ‘Better Energy" customer (with a unit rate of 14.7p per kWh as of 16.09.2017), then your Export Credit will equal 100 * 0.147 = £14.70.
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