UK EV owners got paid to charge their cars over the holiday weekend

Posted: May 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, Travel
Tags: ,

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

Of course somebody has to pay these costs in the end, i.e. all the other electricity customers.
– – –
“Curtailment” is a word utility companies don’t like to hear. It means they have more electricity available than they need to meet demand, says CleanTechnica.

In the absence of some sort of storage medium, whether is is pumped hydro, a lithium-ion battery, or a trainload of concrete blocks going up and down a mountain, the excess electricity is wasted.

In the UK last weekend, a combination of a bank holiday, reduced demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, and sunny skies left Octopus Energy, a UK utility that uses only renewable energy, with an oversupply of electricity.

So it paid some lucky EV owners to charge their cars in order to soak up some of the excess electricity it had available.

One Tesla Model 3 owner was paid £4.51 to charge up his car. He used enough electricity to drive more than 650 miles. If he had been driving a conventional car like a BMW 3 Series, his fuel cost to drive the same distance would have been more than $120, says This Is Money.

Is there a catch? Of course there is. To get paid to charge, first you need to be an Octopus Energy customer who has signed up for its “Agile” pricing plan and own an EV you charge with an Ohme home charger. The Ohme smart charger automatically allows EV owners to charge only when demand prices are lowest.

On May 23, prices were negative for more than 12 hours from early in the morning to the middle of the day. During those times, drivers were paid up to 11 pence per kWh to charge their cars.

Ohme’s smart charger turns the charging on and off to take advantage of lower energy prices. It chooses the best time for the car to charge based on how much battery capacity owners say they’ll need the next day and what the predicted power prices will be over the next 24 hours.

One customer says he took advantage of the negative prices to charge the battery in his Jaguar I-Pace. Then he invited his father, who lives around the corner and drives a Tesla, to come over and charge his car as well.

Another electric car driver posted on Twitter: “I drive from Bath to Edinburgh… and Octopus PAY ME enough to buy 2 pints of cask ale and a bag of crisps.” Woo Hoo!

Full article here.

  1. Chaswarnertoo says:

    I can see a backlash coming.

  2. spetzer86 says:

    I see a further discussion about EU gas taxes. In the USA, with our current deflated gas prices, that 650 mile trip would cost about $42 for a ICE car with a modest 30mpg engine. Even a poorer 20mpg engine only costs $62 for the trip.

  3. Coeur de Lion says:

    Sounds good to me. All I have to do is trade in my AdBlu diesel Picasso (road tax £20 therefore very clean) which cost me on a trade in about £9000 for an inconveniently small Nissan Leaf at £26,000 plus £3000 taxpayer subsidy and I can buy a couple of beers and some crisps? Oh and don’t forget the cost of wiring the garage terminal for fast charging.
    What does Waitrose charge per Kwh at their terminals?

  4. Gamecock says:

    ‘the excess electricity is wasted’

    Not used. ‘Wasted’ is bogus propaganda.

    Wind/solar have very low variable cost. Reduction in demand doesn’t save them anything, because they don’t have much variable cost to save.

    Conventional combustion producers have much higher variable cost, mainly in the cost of fuel. When demand is down, they use less fuel, saving that expense.

    ‘In the absence of some sort of storage medium’

    Note that what is saved has no variable cost associated with it. In other words, it is impossible to justify storage.

  5. cognog2 says:

    Octopus Energy does NOT use just renewable energy. I am a customer and do not get switched off when the wind stops blowing; so the energy must come from somewhere.
    Recently wind power data showed many days with barely enough power available from wind to run a kettle.
    Octopus can only claim its green credentials by using the flawed carbon offset scheme which enables people to purchase certificates which are nothing more than secular indulgences generating income for the few in like manner to now long gone practices of the Catholic Church.

  6. Curious George says:

    gamecock – what is the “variable cost”?

  7. Curious George says:

    Looked it up. I love the concept. A zero variable cost means that they get paid whether or not they are producing. Yes, that’s my experience as well. But storage is justified if I want a reliable energy. Of course, they don’t care – I’ll have to pay for it.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Octopus Energy does NOT use just renewable energy.

    On paper it might, but the electrons at the socket are from the same local network as next door’s no matter who sends your bills.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Costs divide into fixed costs and variable costs.

    In the very long run, fixed plant and equipment gets replaced, but for a very long time it is considered constant. A fixed cost to have built the plant.

    In immediate use, variable cost varies directly with production.

    So picture a Diesel generator. You pay a pile of money to buy it and install it. Then that cost is sunk or fixed for years. But turn it on, you consume Diesel oil to run it. The amount varies directly with the amount of energy you make. Varies with load. Variable cost.

    Windmills and solar use no fuel. The labor to maintain them does not change with use so much as with age. They are basically all fixed costs.

    The bugger all is that if you run a lot of solar & wind, your backup Diesel, nuclear, or coal plant still has all the fixed costs but is not earning anything while idle. This raises the cost of the energy produced. A small lie is often put forward that solar is becoming cheaper than fossil plants as though that was all solar getting better. A chunk of it is solar raising the price per kW-hr for fossil fuel plant by forcing it idle a lot more. Forcing the fixed it costs to be spread over fewer kW-hr per year. Worse, start up and shut down are where most of the wear on those plants happens.

    So if a windmill or solar cell makes power that you throw away, you do not save anything on you budget by shutting them off. The only change is in your revenue, not your costs. Yet running them and turning off your Diesel or Coal backup plant also damages their revenue! So why don’t you hear about turning off windmills to avoid “wasting” your fossil fuel plants? Eh?

  10. ivan says:

    IF Octopus Energy uses only renewable energy where is their alternate grid system? Oh, they don’t have one, then they are telling porkies and should be hauled into court for false advertising – they won’t be because it doesn’t fit the renewable agenda.

    The government needs to revise how and what is paid to renewable operators – there should be no such thing as Curtailment pricing since it doesn’t cost the wind generator owners anything to just shut off units whereas it does cost the base load suppliers to ramp up and down their units.

    In fact there should be no subsidies paid to renewable operators at all. If they can’t make money on an open market then they shouldn’t be in the generating business.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Irsching Power Station near Vohburg on the Danube, Germany, is operated as a so-called Peaking power plant

    Due to the growth of Renewable energy in Germany which often covers daytime peak demand with solar power, the owners claim that they lose several million € a year. On March 30, 2015, the owners of unit 5, organised as Gemeinschaftskraftwerk Irsching GmbH (GKI), declared they wanted to close down all of its operations effective from April 1, 2016.[4] This was denied, as due to the shutdown of nuclear power, network operator TenneT considers all power plants in its Southern German area as system relevant and having to remain as stand-by reserve. The operators demand better compensation for that.

    Another request for shutdown of unit 5 was denied in August 2017
    = = =
    REUTERS, APRIL 26, 2018:
    Due to competition from subsidised solar and wind energy, many German fossil fuels plants are running at a fraction of the time needed to be profitable.

    ‘Competition’ 😆

  12. Gamecock says:

    “But storage is justified if I want a reliable energy.”

    “Recently wind power data showed many days with barely enough power available from wind to run a kettle.”

    Storage can’t cure intermittency. Storage can’t give you reliable energy.

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