Jul 19, 2017 - 4min read
One of our partners helping us halve energy bills and cut waste is battery storage firm Powervault. We spoke to Powervault’s managing director Joe Warren to discuss how the battery works – and how Tonik enables it to reach its full potential.
Near London Bridge, there is an aptly-named incubator for businesses focused on eco-friendly innovation: Sustainable Bridges. Their office space is hidden away beneath the railway arches; the floors are covered in astroturf and exposed metal ventilation pipes snake across the ceilings. We sit down with Joe Warren in one of the numerous greenhouse pods that function as a meeting room.
Powervault was founded in 2013, at a time when energy storage solutions were prohibitively expensive for the average consumer. Its goal was to provide a user-friendly, affordable battery that would allow people with solar panels to save money and energy – storing up solar-generated power to use as and when it’s needed.
“The other thing it can do is charge up with low-cost electricity from the grid and then use that electricity to offset peak electricity costs,” says Joe. “So this is a product that can work for anybody.”
However, as the grid’s capacity for data-led innovation has grown, Tonik is in an excellent position to help Powervault – and, by extension, energy consumers – take advantage of developments in smart technology. As the smart meter roll-out begins, consumers are on the cusp of being able to make bigger savings and cut more energy waste than ever before.
“It’s really exciting,” says Joe. “As an energy supplier, Tonik have the ability to provide smart tariffs tailored to home storage – helping customers take advantage of really low cost periods of electricity during the day that can lead to significant savings on top of what they’re already getting from the battery itself.
“Further, by using live data from the batteries and drawing insights from their members’ energy usage, Tonik can – together with Powervault – ensure that the units automatically charge up at the times of day that will benefit customers the most.”
So while only 1 million households in the UK currently have solar panels that could integrate with the Powervault system, by 2020 there will be 20 million homes with smart meters that would be able to save money by using smart, data-led energy storage.
By providing customers with first-hand access to information about their energy consumption, the idea is that they will be able to better understand their energy usage as well as putting them in control of further savings opportunities.
“Tonik customers will be able to see exactly how their Powervault is saving them money by logging on to their online accounts [Tonik Space],” says Joe. “Customers can see precisely when their Powervault is charging and discharging, how much energy they’re saving and get a feel for their consumption.”
It’s not just consumption that has the potential to be optimised; there are even more radical, futuristic concepts in the pipeline. For example, Tonik customers with a solar panel and a Powervault might find themselves generating more energy than they can use. This raises the prospect of consumers that actually put energy back in to the grid – the idea of the energy ‘prosumer’.
“Later on this year, we’re going to be launching a product that not only has lower cost second life batteries but can also help the grid. Customers will be able to save money by basically providing energy when the grid is in need, and this in turn will help decrease their bills even further.”
It’s all part of a trend that Joe – with 10 years of experience working in the smart grid sector – has seen coming a long way off; one that can decentralise the energy industry and place power back in the hands of consumers. We already talk about decentralised internet, currencies and data storage – why not energy too?
“We’ve come from a point,” says Joe, “where energy was effectively dominated by a small number of companies generating electricity centrally and then transmitting it over long distances. Now we’re in a situation where homeowners can have more control over their energy usage – some of which may be generated locally. Battery storage allows people to store locally as well – protecting themselves against always buying energy from the grid as the default go-to source of energy. With the advent of electric vehicles and new electricity-based heating systems, this is only going to become more important and mean use of the grid needs to become smarter.”
That’s why it makes sense for Tonik to partner with Powervault, because we enable their cost-effective battery to reach its full potential by incorporating it into our renewable energy supply chain.
Steve Springett, Tonik’s Product Director, says “We’re really pleased to be working with like-minded companies such as Powervault. Both battery storage and smarter energy supply can each separately contribute to reducing customers’ energy bills. However, significant further benefit comes from bringing them together as part of a joint offering to our customers. Tailored storage tariffs are a great example, as is ensuring that when our customers need to charge their batteries from the grid, they do so with renewable electricity from Tonik.”
Got solar panels already? Register your interest here for our battery storage trial with Powervault. We’ll contact you to tell you how with a Powervault and our smart tariff you can save further on your energy bills.