UK start-ups take on giants

A UK start-up business, which manufactures units that capture and use surplus electricity generated by domestic solar panels, is preparing for an energy storage war with Tesla Motors. Meanwhile, Google, Bing and Yahoo could face a new rival in the form of an ethical search engine from a UK start-up, which does not collect user data and donates money to charity.

London firm, Powervault, which has recently completed a £700,000 funding round on Crowdcube to pay for its rollout, has developed a lithium-ion version of what it describes as the UK’s first simple and affordable home energy storage system.

Powervault expects to have sold 10,000 home energy storage systems within three years and 50,000 within five years, by which time they should retail for less than £1,000. This is markedly cheaper than Tesla’s Powerwall and improves on its rival’s product by providing a complete ‘system in a box’, including batteries, charger, inverter and control unit, which can be installed by an electrician in an hour.

In a statement, the firm said that Tesla and similar firms are only selling a battery-based partial solution rather than complete home storage systems. This means that Tesla’s products require spending on additional components, making them more complicated to install. Moreover, they are not compatible with all solar systems.

Meanwhile, new, ethical search engine, Storm, plans to raise money by taking a tiny portion of any sales made on retailers’ websites, such as Waitrose, Currys, Boots and Sports Direct, which are reached via its search engines. In addition, it does not collect user data and intends to turn over half its revenue to charities, which could amount to £200m a year by 2017 via the 10 million users it hopes to attract.

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