How we’re investing massively in a green future
People often ask me about what we’re doing with the investment and funds we receive from Octopus Group, Origin Energy, and from other sources (eg. profit - as we start to make it, and revenue from software licensing to companies like Good Energy, Eon, and Npower in the UK, and Nectr in Australia).
So here, I’m creating a “living list” of Octopus’s investments in driving a renewable energy system.
Octopus recently announced £300m extra funding as a result of our partnership with Origin Energy. Whilst Origin’s heritage and current activities involve fossil fuels (I blogged about this at the time), the money they’re providing to Octopus Energy is 100% about enabling us to take our green energy mission further and faster - with no restrictions.
First, no other company is investing in moving to a customer-driven green energy system like Octopus. We’re dedicated to rewriting the narrative of “green taxes” and instead, bringing people the very real benefits - financial and environmental - of renewable energy.
That’s why we’re investing millions of pounds in the technology, operations, and customer and government relations - to make sure that green energy can be cheap energy:
- Our smart energy tariffs like Agile Octopus are helping to build a green energy system – acting as a blueprint for how smart homes + flexible consumption could form the backbone of an affordable, renewable energy system in the future. Agile also provides fascinating instances where we pay customers to help use up excess green power to help balance the energy grid.
- The tech behind Agile is being applied to a number of specialised products to help businesses of the future go green in the most affordable way, and support a renewable energy grid, from a tariff for Vertical Farming businesses, to Electric Juice, which powers electric vehicle charge points and electric business fleets with the UK’s greenest energy.
- Our recent Big Switch On trial takes “Agile-like” pricing to more people – a UK-first large-scale trial into how consumers could be empowered to help grid balance in a future renewable system. In the trial, 100,000 smart meter customers were paid to consume more energy to help use up excess renewable power in the grid. The trial was reported by the New York Times, The Sunday Times and The Mirror.
- We’re the first energy supplier in the UK to offer a smart export tariff, OutgoingOctopus – giving UK homes with micro-generation like solar PV a way to make money from exporting their green power to the grid following the end of the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme.
- OctopusGO is an energy tariff specifically for electric vehicle drivers, designed to make the move to electric vehicles smoother and more affordable. The tariff, with a super-low overnight price, encourages energy users to charge their cars overnight when the grid’s energy is greenest and low in demand, to maximise the UK’s renewable power and drive the transition to electric transport faster.
A big thank you to all those #EV drivers and smart cookies, including everyone on #OctopusAgile, who helped us balance the GB grid last night. Getting paid to use more power on a windy night! @octopus_energy @enappsys @ng_eso pic.twitter.com/VgW4oeVDHN— Duncan Burt (@DBBurt) December 8, 2019
We’re also investing in direct green energy generation projects to empower small-scale green generation in many different ways and through many disparate projects across the UK.
- We’ve created a joint venture with Co-Op – Co-op Community Energy – helping fund and support over 100 green community energy schemes - all 100% renewable and designed with and for local communities (and growing all the time).Read about some of the sites and projects that are part of it, including Westmill Wind and Solar Farm, Osney Lock Hydro, in our community energy blog.
- Our joint venture offers customers of Co-op Energy the chance to buy power that is directly sourced from these sites through a tariff called Community Power.
- We’re also recently partnered up with Ripple Energy, where people can chip in to support the build of a new wind turbine, and gradually see a return on their green investment as we buy up the energy it generates!
- We’re also working with Energy Local, providing the technology to help communities near small green generators benefit the most from getting powered directly by their local sites – a totally innovative, people-first way of localising energy.
We’re leading in green energy research, as well – not only through our own experimental products, but by funding research and data to support the government and global energy industry change quicker.
We’re thinking hard about issues like greenwashing, and are deeply committed to real, substantial green change (you can read all about what makes us so very green here). So our army of data scientists are driving essential research to drive society’s understanding of how we can adopt cheap, green energy:
- Our data team have recently been working hard to analyse trends in energy use during social distancing, and what they might mean for a green grid.
- Our cutting edge experimental ‘time of use’ tariff Agile has given us year’s worth of meaningful data and case studies from early adopters of a flexible energy consumer future – read our Agile report here.
And we’re taking that research even further – setting up the Future Energy Research Centre, as a way to give governments and companies everywhere - not just in the UK - access to bleeding edge research, data, and modelling that will be needed to drive a transition to 100% renewable energy (including decarbonisation of heating and transport).
We’re also investing heavily in driving the transition to electric transport, bringing talent, money, and expertise to help drivers escape fossil fuels and go electric.
- Octopus Electric Vehicles (OEV) are a whole company within the Octopus Energy Group family dedicated to making the choice to go electric easier and cheaper, spreading awareness through roadshows, sharing info about government subsidy schemes for businesses and individuals, and bundling innovative products (including our cheap charging OctopusGO tariff and a brand new roaming bundle, the Electric Juice Network).
- They’re also pioneering work in Vehicle to Grid charging, which helps EV drivers save even more money, and turns electric vehicles into an invaluable part of the smart, well balanced, green electrical grid of the future. Read about our Powerloop V2G trial, funded in part by Innovate UK.
We’re also backed by Octopus Group – indeed, we’re a subsidiary of them – which means that we are an important part of their mission in renewables, and can equally be incredibly proud of their work as the Europe’s biggest investor in solar power.
- If you want to know more about Octopus Renewables, and the massive four-plus terawatt hours of green energy they pump into the electric grid every year, read our blog about Octopus Renewables' generation portfolio.
And now Octopus is in Australia too, and have stepped up to invest in Australia’s largest solar farm, Darlington Point, which will generate 685,000MWh of solar power each year.
Finally, it's worth talking about something I'm not happy about.
Octopus Energy does have massive involvement in fossil fuels. Almost all energy suppliers in the UK, including ‘green’ ones, do: given that we provide gas to our customers’ homes, we are some of the UK’s biggest retailers of natural gas.
I wish we weren’t, and part of my job is to do everything we can to move to a system where the gas is greener, where we offset what we use, and ultimately, where we stop using it altogether. All of the work above is aimed at phasing out the need for gas and instead, building a smart, renewable energy driven, all-electric future.
I hope that Octopus will eventually be able to stand proud, having moved away from it, and created the means via which others can do the same.
There are not many companies who’ll say that about a product which accounts for 40% of their revenue.
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