9th April 2019
Outgoing Power: Export Strength
Phil Steele, Future Technologies Evangelist
We’re constantly striving to harness the latest thinking in our mission to bring clean, fairly priced power to the people.
In February 2018, we launched the world’s first time-of-use import tariff, Agile Octopus, letting customers benefit from dynamic, half-hourly pricing. In June 2018 our second time-of-use offering, Octopus Go, hit the streets, allowing electric vehicle drivers to charge up in a super-cheap off-peak period. Just a few months ago, we launched Electric Juice – the first tariffs designed to let electric transport businesses charge up on dynamically-priced green energy.
Our newest smart time-of-use tariff is here.
For the latest news on this tariff, head to our newer blog.
Meet the UK’s first ever smart export tariff: Outgoing Octopus.
As Feed-In Tariffs (FiTs) come to an end, we're the first UK energy supplier to launch a true export tariff that settles export real time with the grid.
Put simply, it means that if you have solar power, we’ll buy the energy you generate, sell it to the grid, and give you the money we make on your behalf. So that instead of you paying us for energy, we pay you for it. No tricks. No catch.
Better – our export tariff is smart. The price you get paid for what you generate changes half-hourly in line with the wholesale price of energy. That means at times of the day when energy is most in demand (generally around dinner time) you’ll get paid more to export, helping to reduce strain on the grid by supporting it with clean energy at times when there’s generally a lot of fossil fuels in the mix.
James Court, Policy & External Affairs Director at the Renewable Energy Association, said:
“Octopus Energy is at the forefront of a new era for renewables and this tech innovation, arriving at the moment the Feed-In Tariff drops away, is hugely welcome and exciting news for industry and consumers. We have been proud to provide renewables industry input to its development”.
What is an Export tariff?
Most tariffs you’ve encountered before are ‘import’ ones, charging you based on the energy you’re importing from the grid to power your home. The Outgoing Octopus tariff is the price we pay you for electricity you export to the grid.
There are two ways to sell:
Fixed Outgoing Octopus: a flat tariff, so you can sell your electricity at a flat unit price of 5.5p per kWh (the current FiT export price is 5.38p per kWh).
Agile Outgoing Octopus: priced dynamically, with a unit price that changes every half an hour – allowing people generating green energy at home to take advantage of the highly variable wholesale cost of energy throughout the day, and export at the most valuable times.
How does it work?
This is the first time anyone has delivered a half-hourly export tariff. That means that we pay you for any surplus energy from your home that goes to the grid. That might be energy generated by your solar panels, a micro-wind turbine or even energy you’ve stored in a home battery or an electric vehicle capable of discharging to the home.
To do this we measure the flow of energy using your smart meter. We record how much you import for energy you consume and how much you export for energy you send to the grid. We will show your consumption and surplus via your existing Octopus online dashboard and your monthly bill. If your export payment exceeds your consumption cost, great news! That means we owe you... Job done.
What do I need to do to join Outgoing?
You’ll need a SecureTM smart meter we can read remotely.
If you’re not yet an Octopus customer, you’ll need to sign up on an interim tariff first – get a quote any time at octopus.energy/quote – and then get in touch with us once you’re fully switched over and we’ll organise a smart meter installation.
If you’re already a customer of ours, with an Octopus Energy smart meter, just get in touch to move to Outgoing Octopus. We’ll take care of the rest, without any change to your meter or your home wiring.
We've laid out every imaginable question you could have about Outgoing below. If you've got any others, just email email@example.com and we'll help.
How long does it take to get onto the Outgoing tariff, and what's involved?
It sounds simple – just start reading the meter data and calculate a credit to go on your statement. Unfortunately there’s a reason we’re still the only supplier to be offering export (let alone smart export) months after launch). There’s a little more to it than that.
There are four main steps to getting you onto Outgoing:
- Check the FiT register. As it’s not possible to receive both FiT export payments AND measured export we always check the national FiT register to see what you’ve already got. This is a manual step where we look at your account with us and search for your address on Ofgem’s FiT register. If this shows you’re already on a FiT then we work with you on the options such as ceasing the Export part of FiT; this requires us to update the FiT register manually.
- Check we have the right documentation. Aligned with the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) we need a copy of the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certificate, the DNO (Distribution Network Operator) Notification form and the DNOs response. For older installs we’re seeing a high level that haven’t been notified to the DNO which can cause several weeks’ delay and frustration.
- Use the industry systems to request a new, extra, identity for the meter called the Export MPAN. This is another system that we log on to and manually enter all the details. Responses take between 2 days and 2 weeks. If the DNO notification isn’t recorded the request gets rejected, or if the equipment installed is not compliant it gets rejected.
- Set up our billing system with the new Export MPAN, preferred tariff and (where relevant) line up the FiT Export end date. Typically it takes 2 to 4 days for the different industry systems that our platform connects to to complete everything.
In addition as export requires a smart meter, we'll arrange the install in parallel for anyone that doesn't already have a Secure smart meter. Typically we aim to install smart meters within one to two months. Once the meter is installed, typically it takes up to 10 days for the various industry systems to catch up and for our platform to start to receive half-hourly data.
What can I use an export tariff for?
We haven’t put a limit on this. Export via any source capable of feeding energy back to the grid. So that’s not just solar PV…
YOU CAN: get a micro-wind turbine installed, charge up home batteries when energy’s cheapest to feed back into the grid later, or (if you’ve managed to get your hands on a vehicle-to-grid charger) use your electric car’s spare battery
YOU CAN'T: build a home-brew nuclear power station, or run a cable from your neighbour’s house and jack up their bill by sending their electricity back to the grid. That’s just not cricket.
Do I need to have solar, or could I take advantage if I have home batteries and/or V2G?
Outgoing Octopus is best for homes with significant renewable generation, but you don’t HAVE to be generating energy to benefit.
Join Outgoing Octopus and use home batteries (or your EV battery, if you've got hold of a vehicle-to-grid charger...) to take advantage of low consumption prices on our Agile tariff and high export rates on Outgoing Octopus. It’s a balancing act.
Store electricity at times of the day when the Agile prices are super low or even negative (on December 8 2018 Agile dropped to -2.31p per kWh). Then export from your battery when energy on the grid is most in demand, and most expensive. Not only are you powering your home with cheaper stored energy, but supporting the grid when energy is in high demand, and making money off anything extra you export.
If you’re exporting more energy than you’re using, you might even get your Octopus bill into credit. And we’ll even refund the cash if you wish. It’s worth remembering, though, your home will consume battery discharge first before sending the surplus to the grid).
What’s the typical half-hourly Agile Outgoing price range?
On our Agile Outgoing tariff, the price you'll get paid per kilwatt hour ranges from 4p (outside peak hours) to around 10p/kWh at peak. (For comparison, the Fixed Outgoing unit price is 5.5p/kWh all the time).
How do you work out the Agile Outgoing prices?
The Agile-like Outgoing payment is calculated from the day-ahead wholesale prices, Balancing Services Use of System (BSUoS), Generator Distribution Use of System (GDUoS) and Transmission Network Use Of System (TNUoS) per UK region.
The formal calculation is:
Agile Export rate = M * APX + B + C
Where: M is a multiplier to include line losses, imbalance, trading charges, Octopus margin
APX is the APX day-ahead 30-minute wholesale price converted to p/kWh
B is the time of day independent benefits and is based on BSUoS and GDUoS
C is the time of day dependent (peak) benefits and is based on TNUoS. (C only applies from 4-7pm)
The table below shows the set of regional coefficients for M, B & C. APX is published for the day-ahead at around 4.00pm for the next 11.00pm to 11.00pm slot.
Will there be an API like the Agile API?
Yes. Our open Agile API already provides access to the Outgoing Octopus tariff! Drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Is there a limit to the amount of electricity I can export?
There’s no limit to the export rate set on our tariff, or on your smart meter, and the total electricity you export per month isn’t limited.
However, your home supply system won’t be able to handle exporting energy beyond a certain point. Your solar panel installer will have ensured their maximum output will be within the limit of the breaker in your home (usually between 40 and 100 amps).
If I’m on Agile Octopus and the price goes negative while I’m exporting, what happens?
On Agile, our Plunge Pricing means we pay you to use electricity when wholesale rates are negative. You might think we would charge you to export energy when this happens – any primary school student would tell you two negatives make a positive. Well, we’ve broken the maths and don’t believe you should be penalised when this happens. So when wholesale rates drop below zero the Outgoing Octopus rate will stop at zero. While it’s a shame not to be credited for your export, you can still feel good about doing something for the environment by sharing your clean, green solar energy with the world.
What happens if within a 30-minute period I consume from the grid for 15 minutes and export for the remaining 15 minutes?
Your smart meter will measure the import and export values and report these in 30-minute blocks. So if for example you consume 1kWh from 09:00 to 09:15 then at 09:15 you start exporting (the clouds clear and it’s a warm sunny day, for instance) and export 2kWh from 09:16 to 09:30 then your bill will show both 1kWh consumption and 2kWh export in the 9:00 to 9:30 period. Your export amount is not deducted from the consumption amount.
Why is Outgoing Octopus a separate tariff from my existing tariff?
The flow of electricity into your home (consumption) and from your home (export) are measured separately by your smart meter. There are separate ‘import’ and ‘export’ registers, so your meter doesn’t run backwards when it’s exporting!
This means we track your consumption readings separate to your export ones. We take both measurements from the smart meter and bill (or credit) your account based on each.
You’ll be able to see on your meter’s in-home display when you’re exporting, and the amount exported.
Your existing consumption tariff* is unaffected when you apply for Outgoing Octopus. As with all our other tariffs there’s no exit fees so you can decide not to continue with Outgoing Octopus.
*Currently, you can't be on both Outgoing Octopus AND Octopus Go, our electricity consumption tariff designed for electric vehicle drivers – but any other consumption tariff is fine.
Do I need to be on a special tariff for my energy consumption?
No, Outgoing Octopus is independent of your regular Octopus consumption tariff. Currently, you can't be on both Outgoing Octopus AND Octopus Go, our electricity consumption tariff designed for electric vehicle drivers.
Can I join Octopus and just be on Outgoing?
You might have a large enough solar and home battery solution to be very nearly off-grid. So cool.
Right now, you can't JUST be an Outgoing Octopus customer. Even though your export amount might theoretically exceed your import (meaning you're earning more by selling energy to the grid than you are paying to consume) you still need to have one of our consumption tariffs (just not Octopus Go).
Does Outgoing Octopus have a standing charge (or any other charges)?
Unlike all regular consumption tariffs at Octopus, Outgoing Octopus doesn’t have an equivalent daily standing charge. This means whether you manage to take advantage of export or not, you won’t see any extra charges on your bill.
What happens if I switch to another supplier?
First of all – no exit fees or tie-ins. Switching away will be just the same as if you’re just on one of our consumption tariffs. We’ll work out a final bill based on closing export and consumption readings. If your final balance is in credit, we’ll refund it. Your new supplier will let you know if they are able to provide any equivalent export tariff.
Under FiT you cannot change your export during the first 12 months and after that, can only change once every 12 months.
Does this work with 3-phase meters and split-phase meters?
We’re rolling out 3-phase and split-phase smart meters in 2020 once we’ve completed testing these meters with our billing system and the DCC smart meter infrastructure.
Would I still get my FiT payments as well as Outgoing Octopus credit?
Under FiT guidelines, you get paid for being a generator, and paid for whatever you export.
You won’t be able to receive FiT export payments whilst also being on the Outgoing Octopus tariff. However, you will still be able to receive your generation payments. When you sign up to the Outgoing Octopus, you will be required to opt out of your deemed export payments from your existing FiT supplier (but there’s no requirement to switch your FiT contract to Octopus.)
For new installations (that is, after the FiT closure date of 1/4/2019) we’ll still require a copy of your Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MSC) certification in order to get you onto the tariff.
Does micro-generation still need to be installed under MCS to take advantage of Outgoing Octopus?
Under the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, installations needed to have a Microgeneration Certificate administered by the Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS).
We will still require your renewable energy generation to be installed by a MCS or Flexi-Orb approved installer and provide us the MCS or Flexi-Orb certificate.
We also advise that solar micro-gen is installed according to the Renewable Energy Code of Conduct (RECC).
What is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is the process currently being considered by BEIS (Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) to ensure that all large suppliers offer an export tariff. It’ll basically mean larger energy suppliers like us (250,000 customers at least) must offer an export tariff and pay customers with home generation for any excess energy that gets fed back into the grid.
The ins and outs of SEG are still being worked out. BEIS has requested industry members (energy companies like us) to provide input in the consultation process.
What will my export tariff statement look like?
Your energy statement will have your consumption information, just the same as you’re used to seeing.
It'll separately show the half-hourly breakdown of your export for the month. Don’t worry. We’ll give you all the detail you need to keep on top of your bills.
What happens if I’m on FiT 50% Deemed?
50% Deemed was one option under FiT for getting paid for your export. This is often the case where an export meter wasn’t fitted and so it is was assumed that 50% of the solar energy generated would be exported (the other 50% being consumed). This is calculated from the installed potential output of the solar panels at the time of install. You may find you are still better off keeping the Deemed 50% than switching to Outgoing Octopus - for example if in fact you are exporting only 20%, or if the solar panels aren’t optimally oriented to supply the potential output or have deteriorated over several years. As the FiT Export rate is now 5.38pence and our flat rate is 5.5pence then you are better off with Outgoing Octopus if (average over the year) you export more than around 50% of the installed capability.
Can I transfer my existing FiT Generation supply to Octopus?
FiT payments are both Generation and Export. Outgoing Octopus replaces the Export payment. But we are also able to manage your Generation FiT payment too for any FiT prior to the 1st April 2019 cut off date. Transferring your FiT Generation payment is optional and not dependent on being an Octopus customer for your regular consumption tariff. You are also free to continue to use your existing FiT Generation supplier even if you use Octopus for your regular consumption and Outgoing Octopus for FiT Export payment.
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