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Crowdfunded UK PV storage startup hits US$500,000 target in a day

Powervault claims its residential storage device can be installed by the homeowner, rather than requiring a specialist installer. Image: Powervault.
UK energy storage start-up Powervault has exceeded its £350,000 (US$500,000) crowd funding target as it looks to commercialise its ‘plug and play’ domestic storage device.

The London-based company has now raised almost £400,000 in one day from a total of 160 separate investors, having originally aimed to raise £150,000. Its first funding round launched in September last year closed in just eight hours. The company is now seeking to "overfund" the target, meaning it will now attempt to top the total up to £500,000 over the last remaining few days of its campaign, according to a company spokesman who contacted PV Tech Storage's sister site, the UK-solar focused Solar Power Portal. The spokesman said this practise is typical for the Crowdcube crowdfunding site, on which the campaign is hosted.

The patent-pending Powervault device claims to store energy generated from rooftop solar panels during the day for consumption at peak evening times, promising to cut up to 15% off household electricity bills.

An integrated battery and control system is used and the storage device can be plugged into a UK-standard 13 amp power outlet to charge. The company also claims the system can be simply retrofitted to existing solar systems by a professional installer.

“In short, Powervault solves two problems for solar PV owners: using free solar energy when the sun isn’t shining and providing the option of emergency power supply during electricity blackouts,” Joe Warren, managing director at Powervault, said.

Warren said funds raised by the programmes would be used for commercialisation and mass production. According to the company it has already identified possible avenues for this, including lowering production costs by approximately 20%. It also said in a promotional video for the crowdfunding venture that investors could exit as early as 2018 if the company is successful in its aims.

The firm already has low key distribution deals with a handful of local installers. Kent-based Greenman Solar is the first domestic installer to offer the solution as an add-on to its products and Niko Miaoulis, managing director at Greenman Solar, said the firm had a waiting list of customers who had expressed an interest in the product.

The product received support from Climate-KIC, an accelerator programme which supports innovations aimed at tackling and mitigating the effects of climate change, founded by research university Imperial College.

The company joins a number of others in viewing the home solar energy storage market in the UK with interest. The country has found itself as the biggest market for solar in Europe at present, but with an election pending in May and policy on renewables subject to uncertainty, one Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analyst recently called selling energy storage into the UK solar market "challenging" at present. The industry itself is calling for regulatory changes to open up the market and recognise the value of storage, rather than financial support, to get things moving. In the past few weeks, residential storage providers including JLM Energy and grid-scale system provider and control software specialist, Greensmith, which generally works on grid scale projects, both from the US, have expressed a desire to enter the UK market with their respective products.

Additional reporting by Andy Colthorpe.

This story has been update from its original form to clarify that the Powervault crowdfunding campaign is not yet closed, although the initial target was reached.

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