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Welsh Homeowner Installs First Tesla Solar Storage Battery in UK

Feb 15 2016 Read 3462 Times

Mark Kerr, an electrician, technological buff and environmentalist from Cardiff in Wales has become the first British owner of a Tesla Powerwall battery storage unit. Kerr is the beneficiary of a promotional giveaway of the unit via Welsh power country Solar Plants, who gave the unit to Kerr for free as a way to generate publicity and gauge the effectiveness of the battery in a domestic environment.

The battery will allow Kerr to store the energy gleaned by his 16 solar panels during the day for use at night, when he is more likely to be at home and in need of electricity.

The “Missing Link”

The increasing popularity of solar power in a domestic setting has seen government subsidies encourage many homeowners to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of their homes, thus generating their own energy.

Though this can prove to be an efficient way of generating power, it does mean that many people are faced with a common quandary. The panels become charged during the day – but most people are at work or school at this time, meaning that the energy is not being produced when they need it most in the evening or night-time.

Of course, arrangements to sell surplus power back to the grid are in place and can help solar panels to pay for themselves. However, it seems a little counterintuitive to install a solar power system but not be able to benefit from the energy it generates directly. As a result, power companies have been scrambling to find a solution in the form of a reliable battery or storage unit, which can hold the power during the day for use later on. Tesla, the energy company founded by US billionaire Elon Musk, believe they have found the missing link in the shape of their Powerwall.

Tesla to the Rescue

Tesla have already had considerable success in the field of electric vehicles (EVs), which could provide the solution to how we will power our vehicles in the future in the absence of fossil fuels. Now, they are branching out into energy storage with the advent of the Powerwall.

The Powerwall unit is a lithium-ion-battery system capable of 7kWh which hangs inconspicuously on the wall of Kerr’s utility room, almost in the guise of a piece of modern art. Its artistic design and condensed capability (in comparison to the industrial-scale turbine models also on the market) make it an attractive prospect to environmentalists and owners of solar panels.

One thing that is not quite so attractive, however, is its price. At the launch of the Powerwall, Musk revealed the starting price for the Powerwall would be in the region of $3,500 (roughly £2,500). This is even before shipping and installation costs have been taken into account, making the storage unit an expensive proposition. Mr Kerr was a lucky man to have received it free of charge.

However, as with other aspects of the solar power industry, prices are expected to fall as the technology advances and the market becomes more competitive. Whether it will drop enough to make it a worthwhile investment in the home of the man on the street remains to be seen, but for now the installation of the first British Powerwall represents a huge step forward in the harnessing of solar energy.

Image Source: Oliver Pasco   
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