10th December 2019

With AgileOctopus, the UK's greenest energy was also the cheapest

Maddie Inglis, Social Media Manager

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We reckon the fastest way to drive sustainable change is by rewarding people for making greener choices. For years, the mainstream thinking was that renewable or sustainable products were expensive or niche. Over the weekend, a combination of smart meters, smart energy tariffs and a couple of windy nights helped us make the UK’s greenest energy the cheapest too.

Overnight, agileOctopus customers got paid for the energy they used after the UK hit record levels of wind generation.

Storms on Saturday and Sunday night meant turbines were producing a massive amount of wind energy for the UK. As the Guardian reported, customers got paid up to 5p for every unit of electricity they used — whether that was to wash their clothes and dishes, stick the tumble dryer on, power up storage heaters and electric boilers, charge their electric cars, and fill up home battery systems like Tesla Powerwalls.

(Powerful tweet for its accidental shoutout to our own Holy Mother of Edison, CTO James Eddison).

Why did the windy weather make the UK’s energy so cheap?

The stormy weekend meant wind turbines were working overtime to generate lovely, carbon-free electrons for the people of the UK to use. The problem is, a lot of this generation happens overnight, when no one in the UK is really using that much energy. The networks had too much wind energy on their hands, so they had to price it far cheaper – even negatively – to get rid of it all. Overnight storms triggered the energy equivalent of an ‘everything must go’ sale.

The way the UK’s grid works, energy demand must always closely match energy supply. On nights when there’s really high energy output (i.e. heaps of wind energy in a storm), markets have to ‘dump’ power to get rid of it, by pricing it cheaply (or even at times, negatively):

Networks sometimes actually have to pay wind generators to turn the turbines off to avoid straining the grid. Not only is this costly, but it’s also a wasted opportunity to generate clean power.

A few years ago, we launched a smart solution.

Our agileOctopus tariff’s prices vary every half an hour, so they can change based on factors like how green the UK’s energy mix is, and how much demand there is. At ‘peak’ times (usually between 4pm-7pm), high energy demand means extra fossil fuel stations have to be fired up – so Agile prices are high, incentivising you to avoid this expensive, carbon intensive energy.

But when there’s lots of wind blowing overnight or lots of sun shining in the daytime, Agile customers get super-cheap energy to help make the most of naturally-occurring green power that would otherwise go to waste. Sometimes this means energy is free. Or, as happened this weekend, we’ll even pay people to use it.

Want to try agileOctopus for yourself?

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Whether you're already an Octopus customer, or with a different supplier, you can sign up to join the Agile tariff. Here's all you need to know.

Agile is a smart tariff, which means you need to have a smart meter we can take half-hourly readings from (that's SMETS2 meters and Secure SMETS1 meters).

Don't have one yet? No worries. The smart meter and installation comes at no extra cost. Currently, 95% of customers have their smart meter installed and are on their chosen tariff within 6 weeks of their switch to Octopus, however some areas may take a little longer.

Plunge pricing like this doesn’t happen all the time, but on average, Agile prices are often cheaper than a standard tariff for 21 hours of the day, and tend to be about half the price in the early hours.

Agile helps customers to:

Here’s the Director of Operations for the National Grid, Duncan Burt:

If you can’t avoid using energy during peak times, you can still get involved in using off-peak energy. octopusGO has a great flat daily rate that drops to 5p/kWh for four hours during the quietest hours of the night.

Making sure everyone can benefit

Agile can work for anyone, even if you don't have tonnes of smart tech products, knowhow and time. You don't need expensive products like electric vehicles, home batteries, smart boilers. Anyone with the right smart meter can join Agile and run dryers, dishwashers, and washing machines on timers overnight.

Night owls or daytime homebodies can even do it manually, just by shifting behaviours slightly to move energy use into cheaper times. Since Agile rates are often cheaper than a standard tariff for 21 hours of the day, it doesn't take much work.

Smart, automated appliances help people who aren’t around in the daytime (or who enjoy not waking up at 3am to do the washing) to make the most of Agile. Thankfully, with the UK on the cusp of a green tech revolution, smart home products are getting cheaper and cheaper as more enter the market. We’re getting involved in all the latest developments in smart tech, because we want to encourage everyone to make the small changes they can to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. This includes everything from funding research into community energy schemes that gives neighbourhoods with local generation sources cheaper access to that energy with Energy Local, to BEIS-backed trials for cheap electric heating, to cheap smart plugs paired with free apps like IFTTT to automate traditional appliances.

Find out how our Agile customers make the most of cheap, green energy on our Twitter @octopus_energy.

How are agileOctopus prices calculated?

How much do agileOctopus customers save?

How do I automate agileOctopus with Amazon Alexa?

How do I automate agileOctopus with IFTTT?

Learn more about our adventures in smart tech on our tech blog.

image of Maddie Inglis

Maddie Inglis

Social Media Manager

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!

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