Stephen Fitzpatrick

Stephen Fitzpatrick sits down with New Mobility to discuss the importance of smart infrastructure in urban ecosystems to support global EV adoption and the role that authoritative bodies and automakers have in the development of electrification.  

Stephen Fitzpatrick is the founder and CEO of OVO, the UK’s leading independent energy supplier. Stephen established OVO in 2009 to make energy greener, cheaper and simpler for customers. OVO was voted World’s Best Energy Brand in 2016 and the Group currently serves more than 1,000,000 customers.
Can you give a bit of background information on OVO Energy? 

I founded OVO in 2009 to help bring cheaper, greener and simpler energy to UK consumers. Today, we’re the leading independent energy supplier serving nearly one million customers with intelligent energy services.  

How do we need to change our infrastructure to enable electric vehicle growth and are our cities ready for this shift? 

Cities need to step up and prepare for the shift. Even though installing charge points in populated areas is a huge challenge, with rising levels of air pollution it needs to be done. We’re currently trialling a project in Kensington and Chelsea that means cars can charge from electrical points already outside most homes - street lamps. It’s innovative projects like this that will get us some of the way there, but we also need the Government to invest in on-street and public charging too.  

Unfortunately, people still shy away from EVs due to the many false perceptions society has created. How do we move electrification into the limelight and change the way that people perceive them? 

We’re going through a major shift in transportation. The combustion engine represented pioneering engineering that has shaped our society and our economy. But diesel and petrol pollutes the air and it’s time for everyone to embrace the next shift. Breathing toxic air pollution should be far more of a concern to people than range anxiety. I’d say electric vehicles are already in the limelight, we just need to make sure that industry and government are working together now to address the challenges that will arise from this new technology in the future. The transition needs to be as smooth as possible for consumers so that it’s easy for them to make the change.  

Do you believe that EV charging stations should be standardised?  

I’ve said so many times how crazy it is that the Government is still subsidising dumb chargers. The government should mandate immediately that all home charging points are smart enabled. This simple shift in policy will dramatically reduce the need to upgrade our existing energy infrastructure, saving UK energy consumers billions of pounds over the coming decades. 

How are you working with automakers in order to develop within the market? 

If we want successful integration of EVs onto our power grids, it’s essential that energy companies and automakers work together. This year we launched the OVO Vehicle-to-Grid charger, the world’s first widely available domestic bi-directional charger which will b3e available to Nissan LEAF drivers. The software technology that we’ve been developed will make the charging smart. It's called VCharge and it works with any electric vehicle and will optimise charging, limit network constraints and even improve battery life.  

How has Vehicle-to-Grid helped to work towards a greener future and do you believe that this innovation will be a driving factor in creating cleaner urban ecosystems? 

As more consumers choose electric vehicles the potential for large spikes in electricity demand increases dramatically. If we want a green future we need to find smart charging solutions capable of integrating growing numbers of electric vehicles onto the network without compromising energy security. I believe Vehicle-to-Grid is part of the solution to shift all non-urgent charging to off peak periods as well as allow cars to act as a reserve power source for the home and grid. 

What’s next for OVO and the energy industry?

We’re looking beyond the UK at Europe and we’re looking at more partnerships, more innovation and more investment in new technology. New technology is going to continue to disrupt traditional business models, with tech platforms and software making up the energy market rather than traditional “power”.  

 I think you’ll also see a shrinking market for those energy companies that specialise in the creation of very large centralised systems. We’re going to keep investing in distributed, localised energy and technology - that’s where the future market is.   

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