New Climate Next Documentary Episode: Driving Toward Cheaper, Greener Power with Octopus Energy
Fossil fuels have powered transportation and industry since the Industrial Revolution. To combat climate change, the pursuit of cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable forms of energy has become essential. In episode three of the four-part AWS documentary series Climate Next, the London-based energy tech pioneer Octopus Energy uses smart grid technology to support an all-renewable system generated by solar, wind, hydro, and energy storage. Octopus Energy is helping to supply families with the necessary data and tools to take control of their energy usage, save money, and revolutionize how the world is powered.
Decarbonization & energy transition
The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2021 report includes a net zero scenario where total electricity demand rises 30% by 2030. While decarbonization goals for organizations around the globe are more urgent than ever, electric utilities are increasingly prioritizing a smart grid to meet demand with cleaner energy choices. The energy transition – the move away from fossil fuels to cleaner, lower emission energy sources such as solar, wind, and storage – is accelerating. The energy transition drives a common need among utilities to balance growing renewable supply resources with more dynamic energy demand patterns stemming from increased electrification, the integration of electric vehicles (EVs), solar (PV), and other forms of distributed grid energy storage. Distributed energy resources such as EVs and PVs present strong potential to contribute toward energy system-wide decarbonization, and utilities are faced with the major challenge of transforming energy infrastructure and systems to unlock this full potential.
The shift to a net-zero emissions world will create opportunities to replace high-emissions products and processes with low-emissions ones. For example, a January 2022 McKinsey Global Institute report The Net Zero Transition: What it Would Cost, What it Could Bring notes: “Electric vehicles are valuable [to energy transition] only to the extent that low emission energy production has been achieved.”
AWS empowering electric vehicle integration and utility consumer engagement
Utility demand-side management programs provide an opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in helping balance electric grids. When consumers reduce or shift electricity usage during peak periods, electric utilities can reduce the strain off the grid and balance supply and demand allowing better management of clean energy resources and storage. A recent survey of 1,700 American consumers conducted by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative found that 74% of EV owners would be willing to shift charging of electric vehicles to off peak times to ease demand on the grid.
Cloud technology allows utilities to cost effectively involve residential consumers in demand-side management programs at scale. Using AWS, utilities and retail energy companies like Octopus Energy securely engage customers to present timely household energy data and analytics alongside tools that empower them to take action to reduce and control consumption. In the process, customers gain access to cheaper, cleaner power while supporting a more sustainable energy future. Octopus Energy has licensed its Kraken technology to support utilities in these efforts around the world.
Potential role of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) in energy transition
The McKinsey report summarizes the wider global energy transition challenge: “Effective decarbonization actions include shifting the energy mix away from fossil fuels and toward zero-emissions electricity and other low-emissions energy carriers such as hydrogen; adapting industrial and agricultural processes; increasing energy efficiency and managing demand for energy.”
With V2G technology, utilities can now store energy in car batteries to help manage demand for energy and balance the grid – accelerating the move to a fully renewable energy system. Vehicle-to-grid is a new way of thinking about home energy management with the ability to have a constant energy cycle: allowing energy to flow from the house to the car battery, and from the car battery to the grid.
Due to their ability to charge flexibly, EVs can use electricity when there is an abundance of it, for instance on very windy days, and feed that electricity back into the grid when it is needed, balancing electrical demand as required. This technology is currently being tested, with some EV users receiving payments when they feed electricity into the grid. The use of this technology at scale would see EVs further contribute to efforts to decarbonize the grid. When charged with clean energy and with zero tailpipe emissions, EVs cut surface transport carbon emissions, which make up 22% of UK greenhouse gas emissions today according to the UK Department of Transport 2021 annual report. EV owners can use “green power” when renewable energy is plentiful. It turns their EV into an energy asset with unused energy from the car’s battery being reintroduced to the grid.
Octopus Energy’s Powerloop supports the decarbonization of transport by combining a bi-directional charger and an EV’s battery by leveraging the stationary, unused batteries parked in driveways. Powerloop helps consumers benefit from an electric vehicle as an integrated energy asset connected to a home and to the grid, supporting grid stability. By using Powerloop, consumers are helping to unlock the potential of stored renewable energy in a car battery and feed it back to the grid during times of peak demand, between 4-7 p.m. This is groundbreaking in how consumers relate to energy at home and make use of excess renewable energy. There’s a large amount of energy stored in electric cars, and just 10 Nissan LEAFs could power 1,000 homes for an hour. A V2G system optimizes the use of a car’s battery, powering the home – and neighbors’ homes – when electricity demand is high, then charging back up at times when demand is low. A more flexible grid also means a more renewable grid.
Amazon’s commitment to renewable energy and electric vehicles
As part of our goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, Amazon is on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030. Amazon is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, Amazon now has 274 projects globally—enough to power more than 3 million U.S. homes. Additionally, Amazon has enabled more than 3.5 GW of renewable energy in Europe through 34 projects, making Amazon the largest procurer of renewable energy in Europe.
In 2019, Amazon ordered 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles from Rivian. We rolled out the first of these vehicles in Los Angeles in February 2021 and deployed in 15 additional US cities over the course of the year. We plan to have 10,000 vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles deployed by 2030. Read more about AWS support for utility sustainability or The Climate Pledge—a commitment to be net-zero carbon across our business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.