As president of the country's tallest solar residence, located in Midtown Manhattan, there’s a lot I can tell you about the stresses and ins and outs of managing a 45-story skyscraper residence in the heart of the nation’s biggest city.
FORBES -- Satisfying a luxury clientele can sometimes require outside-the-box thinking, to say the least. That’s why perhaps the most crucial decision I made in opening up the building had nothing to do with the amenities inside.
I’ve become an evangelist of sorts for solar power, because the benefits are there for the taking and too many of my peers seem to be dragging their feet. For a modest installation cost, any building under the sun can join the green energy revolution and save money at the same time. In an industry where being environmentally conscious is becoming more important and being money conscious has always been crucial, solar power is the easiest way to generate clean energy and excitement at the same time.
These are a few of the lessons I’ve learned since getting started in solar.
It's easy to start small, but you don't have to.I can freely admit that I was somewhat skeptical when I began dipping my toes into solar power for my properties. My first experiment was on top of a four-story building in the Bronx, where I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give a potential new project a try. When I saw the energy savings happen, I knew I shouldn’t waste any time scaling up, and eventually that meant bringing solar to the top of a 45-floor Manhattan luxury high-rise. Just like in real estate, the higher you go, the better the view — only this one looks straight up.
Getting installed correctly is key. An accredited installer certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) can get you set up, and like any vendor, you’re free to shop around for the best quote. There are even leasing options if you don’t feel ready to make a long-term buying commitment.
It's cheaper than you think, in both the short term and the long run.The days of prohibitively expensive solar installations are long over. As the technology improves, the cost of switching to solar becomes lower by the day. Bloomberg New Energy Finance said the same thing, forecasting a drop of 60% in solar prices (registration required) over the next two decades. By 2040, their experts found, solar energy will be cheaper than coal and natural gas in metropolitan regions across the country. You won’t have to wait until then to enjoy the financial benefits, however.
In all, we save about $120,000 per year on energy costs thanks to the solar array. Not to mention the management team isn’t assuming these relatively meager costs alone. The Solar Investment Tax Credit will pay back 30% of my company’s investment in commercial solar between now and 2021, so getting started ASAP was crucial. But the ease of installation and the savings don’t paint the whole picture.
The benefits extend beyond myself.In both residential and commercial real estate, making your tenants happy can take a lot of work and takes on an infinite number of forms. Adding solar is one of the few methods that saves you money while you generate goodwill for yourself and your building. My tenants are continually telling me how happy they are about the solar panels on the building’s roof.
They’re not happy because I’m saving on energy costs or because of my company’s solar tax credit. They’re happy because they’re proud to live in a place where innovation is embraced, not ignored. They’re happy because they can tell their friends and family that they’re living sustainably without sacrificing the amenities that make their building so attractive. They’re happy because living with green energy is the way of the future, and they can all take part just by taking up residence in this building.
I realize I must sound like a solar salesman at times here, but there’s no profit motive for me. If I seem very attached to the solar method, it’s because so many of my peers seem irrationally resistant to this easy way to improve their bottom line and lessen their environmental impact at the same time. I don’t think putting a solar installation on my roofs was a revolutionary act — only when the rest of my peers in real estate do the same thing can we call it a true revolution. With savings, ease of installation and goodwill to be had, why wait?
It’s happened to all of us: One minute, we're hitting home runs out of the park; the next, we're swinging and missing every time.
ENTREPRENEUR -- What's happening? We've hit a slump. And while slumps can happen to any of us, a sales slump is especially unfortunate, because making sales is how a person makes a living. Not making any sales? You’re not making any money.
As the owner of multiple marketing agencies, I’ve spent years in sales, and I’ve had my fair share of slow periods. But the good thing about slumps is, they don’t last. If you just push through, you can get past your slump and get back to making sales.
Even the best salespeople have bad days -- it’s how they get through those days that makes the difference. Here’s what five of them had to say about how they deal with sales slumps:
1. Don’t give up.
When you fall into a slump, your first instinct is to stop what you’re doing and wait for it to pass. But sales consultant Peter Collins (who, in a career spanning 53 years, has worked for two multinationals and achieved Hall of Fame status in both) says that waiting for a slump to pass is exactly what you shouldn’t do.
In an article on LinkedIn, Collins wrote, “The easiest way to address this is that you need to keep getting in front of prospects, keep presenting and above all keep doing all the activities you are aware of that lead to getting sales across the line.”
Tip: If you stop doing the activities that lead to sales, you’ll only extend the slump. You just need to keep going, and the slump will pass.
2. Get your head in the game.
A slump can easily get you down and cause you to lose motivation, but success is all about mindset. If your mind isn’t in the right place, you won’t be able to pull yourself out of the slump.
In an interview with Inside Sales Summit, sales strategist Jill Konrath, the author of multiple books, said: “My best investment in becoming a better salesperson wasn’t in a course or a book -- the best investment I ever made was changing my mindset.”
Tip: If I myself am not 100 percent focused on my goals as a salesperson, I know I won’t be successful. And it’s even more important to stay focused when you’re in a slump. That’s why I do whatever it takes to stay positive and keep my mind on the task in front of me.
3. Find inspiration.
So how do you get into the right mindset? Sometimes, deciding that you need to focus isn’t enough to actually do it. You need to look around you for inspiration and motivation.
In a blog post for Salesforce, Alice Myerhoff, VP of sales at EdSurge, wrote, “There are so many great free podcasts about sales. Look for motivational stuff from folks like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy or Tony Robbins, or podcasts specific to sales to shift your thinking. I like to listen while I’m commuting to the office to pump myself up.”
Tip: I also love listening to podcasts. I even host my own, (with Aaron Agius), called the Growth Mapping Podcast where we talk about how to grow businesses. There’s so much knowledge out there today, and it’s all easily accessible. You just have to go out and find it.
4. Get back to basics.
If your slump is going on longer than you’d like, maybe it’s time to look at your process. Where might you be going wrong? Take a look at what you’ve done at those times when you were successful. What were you doing that made you successful? What are you doing now that might be different?
On her blog, sales strategist Colleen Francis has written: “Problems aren't usually caused by something complicated. They're usually the result of doing the simplest thing just slightly wrong. And more often than not, we know exactly what the problem is.”
Tip: Start at the beginning, and look at each step of your process. Analyze what you’re doing; look for problems that are occurring; and figure out how you can do things better.
5. Get help.
No one likes a martyr. If you’re really struggling, reach out to someone for help. Chances are someone has gone through a slump just like yours and may be able to provide some wisdom.
On LinkedIn, sales manager David Murray wrote, “Talk to a senior colleague about your ‘slump.’ I do this every time because another person's perspective is excellent at highlighting problems. They may simply listen, provide suggestions or just give you a boost in confidence, but the end result is that you feel better about yourself.”
Tip: Sales is also a team effort. If one person is struggling, it affects the whole team. The best way to get out of a slump is to find a solution together.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS HEATING UP LOS ANGELES. WE NEED A GRID THAT CAN KEEP THE POWER ON WHEN IT'S SWELTERING
The record-breaking heat that baked Southern California and prompted mass power outages last weekend was just a taste of what is to come. Summers in SoCal have already been getting hotter over the last century.
LA TIMES -- Climate change is expected to produce more frequent and more blistering heat waves in the coming years that will put unprecedented stress on the electrical grid and challenge utilities to keep the power on.
Los Angeles, apparently, isn’t ready for the new normal. The demand for electricity Friday, Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s aged system, prompting power outages that affected more than 80,000 customers. The unluckiest people went 48 hours without electricity; they and many others had to evacuate their homes in search of air conditioning elsewhere.
Los Angeles wasn’t alone. Other communities, including some served by Southern California Edison, experienced heat-related electrical outages. But the number and duration of the power problems in Los Angeles should be a wake-up call that there is a lot of work needed to make the city more resilient as heat waves like this become more common.
The number of days over 95 degrees could triple or quadruple by 2050, UCLA scientists have forecast. That means increased electricity demand as people crank up the AC. It also means more residents will install air conditioning, putting additional strain on the electrical grid. Such temperatures can be deadly to residents without air conditioning — or those who lose their air conditioning in a power outage.
In Los Angeles, the power situation last weekend was complicated by several factors. With the severity of the heat wave — triple digits across much of the city, with record-setting temperatures in many areas — more people switched on the air conditioning, creating near-record demand for electricity. And because the temperatures didn’t drop overnight, more people keep their air conditioners running. That further strained the electrical system and caused more outages.
Communities in the DWP’s “metro” area — neighborhoods in the central city south of Mulholland Drive — were hit particularly hard. These areas (unlike, say, the San Fernando Valley) don’t usually get temperatures in the triple digits for extended periods of time and have older electrical infrastructure that is often underground and takes longer to repair. The result was widespread and lengthy outages.
To make the electrical grid more resilient, it has to be more reliable. The DWP has an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance projects, leaving its system vulnerable. After heat waves in 2006 and 2007 caused mass outages, the utility launched an ambitious plan to replace old and overloaded electrical distribution equipment. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council then hiked customers’ rates in 2016 to expedite the modernization of the electrical system, but officials say it will still take decades to catch up.
The solution has to go beyond electrical wires and circuits. The DWP has to work closely with customers to keep their homes and their communities cooler so there is less demand for power.
It means getting more homes and businesses to install solar panels to provide their own power and take pressure off the grid. It means ramping up energy efficiency programs to encourage more customers to invest in “power-sipping” appliances, double-paned windows, insulation and other products that can both lower electricity demand and cool a home. California has been a national leader in requiring that new appliances and buildings be energy efficient.
There needs to be greater focus on making older buildings energy efficient and getting landlords to modernize their apartment buildings. That’s especially important in low-income communities and neighborhoods where, in the past, air conditioning was often viewed as an unaffordable luxury. Residents in those areas will be increasingly vulnerable as the number and severity of heat waves increase.
The DWP and the city also need be more aggressive in planting shade trees around homes and businesses, and replacing dark pavement and roof tiles with light-colored materials that reflect, instead of absorb, heat.
Preparing for a hotter future won’t be cheap or easy. But the past weekend provided a worrisome glimpse into what will happen in Los Angeles if we don’t.
While policymakers in national governments are debating whether or how much to address global warming, over 70 cities and towns in the United States alone have committed to transitioning to 100% clean, renewable energy in one or more energy sectors.
LEONARDODICAPRIO.ORG -- Each locality, though, needs a way to get there. In a new paper published this week in Sustainable Cities and Society, I, Dr. Mark Delucchi and 12 others from Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley provide roadmaps for 53 towns and cities across North America to obtain 100% of their energy from wind, water, and solar power plus storage. The cities include large ones, such as New York City, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, and Phoenix as well as small ones, such as Abita Springs (Louisiana), Boone (North Carolina), Moab (Utah), Denton (Texas), and Standing Rock (North Dakota), among others.
The proposed transition timeline is an 80% conversion by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
If such a transition occurs, the towns and cities collectively are projected to gain 93,000 more permanent, full-time jobs than are lost, reduce each person’s energy cost by about $133 per year, and eliminate a total of about 7,000 air pollution deaths per year, according to the study.
Explore the Solutions Project interactive map to see what 100% renewable energy could look like where you live in the year 2050.The main idea behind the plans is to electrify or provide direct heat for all energy, then to produce the electricity and heat entirely with onshore and offshore wind, solar photovoltaics on rooftops and in power plants, concentrated solar plants, geothermal plants, existing hydroelectric plants, and small numbers of tidal and wave devices. Because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, storage will be needed as well. When excess wind or solar is available, it will be stored as electricity in batteries or pumped hydroelectric storage; as heat in water or underground rocks; as cold in water or ice; or in the form of hydrogen. Excess water will be stored in existing hydroelectric reservoirs, which are basically big batteries. When no direct wind, water, or sunlight is available, energy will be drawn from storage. Grid operators will also set prices to reduce electricity use during times of peak consumption, as is done now.
Each energy sector will be transitioned as follows: transportation, including cars, trucks, buses, construction machines, ships, trains, and aircraft, will run on batteries and/or hydrogen fuel cells, where the hydrogen is produced from electricity. Building air and water heat will be provided by electric heat pumps, as will refrigeration and air conditioning. Cooktops will be electric induction. Leaf blowers and lawn mowers will be electric. High-temperature industrial heat will come from electric arc furnaces, induction furnaces and dielectric heaters. In other words, all combustion-based energy-consuming devices and machines today will be transitioned. No natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels, or coal with carbon capture will be needed.
Such a transition is estimated, across the 53 towns and cities considered, to reduce end use power demand in 2050, compared with a “business-as-usual” case by 54-69%. This reduction is due to the higher work output per energy input of electricity over combustion; eliminating the energy used in mining, transporting, and refining fossil fuels; the efficiency of heat pumps over combustion heating; and end-use energy efficiency improvements beyond those in the business-as-usual case.
From the end use power requirements calculated for each town and city, a mix of wind-water-solar energy generators was proposed based on the availability of renewable resources within the state that the town or city resides in. Subsequently, the numbers of jobs created and lost to build the new infrastructure and eliminate the old infrastructure were calculated. Changes in energy costs, air pollution health costs, and climate costs were similarly determined.
The most important result is that all towns and cities examined can transition at low cost while, on aggregate, creating jobs, saving consumers money, and reducing climate impacts. The obstacles for such a transition are no longer technical or economic, but social and political. This result gives us hope for a brighter future for our planet.
From the residential consumer’s point of view, there are mostly pros when it comes to switching to solar.
FORBES -- If the consumer is adding solar while still having access to the grid electricity, I don’t really see a con, unless the cost of the solar system is prohibitive and financing is not available. First of all, the consumer gets almost free energy after the paying for the solar energy system, so you start saving on the electricity bills. Depending on the cost of the system, the payment is recovered from these savings over a certain period of time. That time depends on the initial cost, any financing costs, maintenance costs and price of the energy the consumer is saving. In most cases, the cost of a solar water heater or a PV system could be recovered in 5-10 years. The time could be smaller if any government incentives (tax credits etc.) are available. A solar system increases the value of the house also. On top of that, the consumer has the satisfaction that he/she is contributing to a cleaner environment. One additional advantage we have seen as a consumer using a solar water heater is that it comes with a large storage tank. Therefore, if one member of the family takes a long shower, the others don’t have to wait for the water to heat up before taking a shower. This is the main reason we have had a solar water heater on every home we have owned since 1979.
The situation from the electricity provider’s view point is a bit different. The pro for them is that solar systems produce the most energy during their peak time, which reduces their peak load, that is usually provided by less efficient equipment. And they don’t have to invest in additional equipment just to cover the peak load. The con for their side is that if a lot of residential customers have PV and PV generation becomes more than about 20% of their load, it introduces instability in the grid. However, if energy storage is introduced whether on the consumer side or the provider side, it can alleviate that problem.
In Miami, the rising sea is already an ineluctable part of daily life. Everyone is affected
THE NEW YORKER -- whether storm flooding forces a small-business owner to shut down for a few days (at tremendous cost), or daily tides hinder students commuting to school, or the retreating coastline forces people to abandon their homes. There are other, less obvious, but equally troubling impacts. People’s increased contact with overflow water from urban canals and sewers is a significant health issue. Low-income communities of color—like Liberty City and Little Haiti—also face rising housing costs as residents seek higher ground. Some have started referring to this as climate gentrification, “a trend of underserved communities being taken over by investors and developers due to rising sea levels,” Valencia Gunder, a community organizer, explained. Historically, “low-income communities of color were forced to live in the center of the city, high above sea level. Now that the sea level is rising, that puts us in prime real estate.” Gunder is one of the many Miami residents who appear in this video series, which focusses on the high-stakes questions that arise as people begin to adapt, and the factors that help create and strengthen resiliency for what’s ahead. “Every adaptation project is an opportunity to improve our environmental quality,” Tiffany Troxler, a wetlands biologist, said. “And to improve social equity.”
As the average global temperature increases, sea level is projected to rise more than one foot by 2045, which would put a fifth of Miami underwater at high tide. While the entire East Coast of the United States is at tremendous risk, Miami is particularly vulnerable. Its underlying bedrock is limestone, which makes the effects of sea-level rise particularly insidious. “Limestone is very porous, so salt water can seep up,” Ben Wilson, an environmental scientist, said in an episode that examines the intersection of ecology and development. “We can’t just build a wall to keep salt water out.” Along the shoreline, freshwater marshes, which act as natural coastal buffers against storm surge, are collapsing because of increased salt-water intrusion. Once those grasses are gone, storm waters will flood Miami much more quickly.
The economic effects will be staggering. Tourism and property taxes—derived from real-estate development—are the region’s two main sources of income. “There are many in the business community, and even government officials, who feel we shouldn’t talk about it,” Wayne Pathman, a real-estate lawyer, said. “But it’s too late for that.” The median family income in Miami-Dade County is roughly forty-five thousand dollars—not high for a metropolitan area. The hardest-hit communities will be, and have already been, those with the fewest resources to adapt and rebuild.
“With climate change there already are winners and losers,” Jesse Keenan, a Harvard professor who teaches courses on climate adaptation, said. “The idea, as a matter of public policy, is how do we subsidize and and support the most vulnerable populations, who are very often the economic losers.” There is no easy answer. But the people featured in these videos are, at least, trying. “I love this place,” one activist told the filmmakers. “I love the people, I love the diversity and the colors and the richness. I love that cross-cultural mix we have going on here. The question is, ‘Can we live here much longer, and safely? And if so, how much longer, and how safely?’ ”
Some residents are planning real-estate development and new infrastructure to attempt to keep the city dry.
We’re no strangers to GoSun’s lineup of solar-powered ovens. The company has been creating and crowdfunding its unique outdoor cookware since 2013.
DIGITAL TRENDS -- Five years later, it’s back again with its latest project. It’s called the GoSun Fusion, and it goes a bit beyond solar power. Rather than relying exclusively on our favorite star to provide power, the Fusion integrates an electric heating element, which is to say, it fuses solar power with more traditional cooking power.
Like all GoSun ovens, the Fusion features its trademark cylindrical cooking chamber that derives its heat from two parabolic reflectors, responsible for capturing heat from the sun and transferring it into the cooking chamber. While this is particularly effective on a sunny day with plenty of direct exposure to the natural power source, it’s not quite as useful when the forecast is cloudy or in the evening. But that is where the Fusion comes in. GoSun introduced a 150-watt electric heater to its latest product, which can be powered either using a car’s cigarette port or a lithium ion power bank (though that costs extra). If you want to get fancier and more expensive still, you can elect to receive a solar panel charger for the battery pack, though this seems to be a bit redundant given that the entire contraption is meant to provide an alternative to solar power.
According to GoSun’s founder and CEO Patrick Sherwin, the cooking chamber of the Fusion can reach a toasty 550 degrees Fahrenheit, and with plenty of direct sun, can cook a meal for five people in an hour. Sure, that’s a long time, and you won’t be able to sear or broil your meal, but it’s still a much cleaner energy option than other products on the market (not to mention a pretty neat device in and of itself).
The GoSun Fusion is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where it has already blown past its original funding goal of $30,000. With nearly two months left, it’s already raised nearly $110,000. Of course, you should always exercise caution before backing a crowdfunding project, but if you’re intrigued by the Fusion, the GoSun team is offering early bird pricing of $299 for the most basic version of the Fusion, and $619 for the most souped-up, solar panel charger battery pack version. Units are slated to ship in April 2019.
Batteries will attract $548 billion in investments by 2050 as costs fall and homes and businesses push to use more clean energy.
BLOOMBERG -- That’s one of the conclusions of the New Energy Outlook released Tuesday by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Batteries will become increasingly viable on the grid as demand for electric cars spurs manufacturing of lithium-ion systems, driving down prices.
Batteries will allow more solar and wind to meet demand -- even when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing, helping end the era of fossil fuel dominance on the grid by mid-century, BNEF said. Battery prices are expected to fall to $70 a kilowatt-hour by 2030, down 67 percent from today, according to the report. BNEF expects 1,288 gigawatts of new batteries to be commissioned by 2050.
Growing investments in energy storage will drive the growth of wind, solar.
Acumen founder Jacqueline Novogratz issued a powerful challenge to the roomful of CEOs at Fortune’s CEO Initiative conference on Tuesday: Business had the technology revolution; now it needs a “moral revolution.”
FORTUNE -- Describing her journey of leaving a successful career on Wall Street three decades ago to start a microfinance institution in Rwanda—which turned into more than $100 million in investment across 108 companies around the globe that has used entrepreneurism to bring services to more than 270 million people in the developing world—Novogratz shared lessons and advice for CEOs seeking to help solve the world’s most pressing issues.
Among Novogratz’s lessons: Empathy alone isn’t enough, she said, because empathy allows power dynamics to remain intact. “We don’t really have to change if we feel another person’s pain,” she said. Instead, solving the world’s problems calls for business leaders to channel their “moral imagination.”
Partnering, she said, is critical for scale. She cited Acumen’s eight-year partnership with global consulting firm Bain, which includes senior partners coming into Acumen’s offices and a total of 52,000 hours of pro bono consulting, but also “reverse apprenticeships.” These involve Bain embedding its young leaders in externships at Acumen initiatives in the field—in Ethiopia, say, or post-conflict Colombia—after which they come back with a different level of understanding of things like the supply chains in which their large-corporate clients are working in. “It makes them better leaders,” she says.
Along the way, Novogratz says she’s learned a lot about the commonalities between the companies and entrepreneurs that succeed and those that fail. It comes down to one word, she says: character. “Those that have the character let them fight the bureaucracy and corruption and let them fight in long-term, gritty ways.” The enterprises that win, she says, “have won in really big ways,” like the Mumbai-based company that has redefined emergency health delivery with 3,500 ambulances in rural India, or two entrepreneurs out of Chicago who addressed Ethiopia’s protein deficiency by creating EthioChicken, which produces highly fertile, disease-resistant chickens and sells them to small farmers.
The key, she says, is betting on the right entrepreneurs “on the edges” and bringing them to the center.
She also encouraged the group to embrace the contradictions between peoples and beliefs, but try to move toward the center—and encourage others to do the same—in the name of the “radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world.” “Even if you seem to be at the polar opposite of me, I can find a partial truth and move toward you,” she said, citing the poet Rumi: “Beyond right doing and wrongdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
As we move towards renewables in our efforts to decarbonise our economies, energy storage is becoming increasingly important. Could householders become an integral part of national electricity networks?
BBC -- When Adam Courtney decided he wanted to reduce the energy bills at his "not particularly energy efficient" Grade II listed house in Godmanchester, England, solar panels were the obvious answer.
But, he says, he soon realised that the savings weren't as great as he'd hoped. Renewable sources of energy don't necessarily deliver at the right time and cloudy days saw his family drawing heavily on the national grid.
Meanwhile, he had spare capacity on sunny days, but got very little in return.
"We'd ended up feeding back into the grid, but the payment is tiny, so I ended up thinking 'why do that?'," he says.
Instead, the data centre owner decided that he himself could make better use of the electricity he was generating, if only he were able to store it for when it was needed.
He started researching battery storage - even at one point considering building his own system - before opting for a Tesla Powerwall that can store the excess energy generated by the solar panels.
The unit and supporting hardware costs just under £6,000, with installation costs of up to £3,000 on top. But it enables him to buy energy at cheaper times, lowering the running costs of both his home and the family's two electric cars.
"With Economy 7 there's cheaper electricity at night and the Powerwall knows it's going to be sunny tomorrow so it knows how much power to buy," he explains.
"My bill was £140 a month, but I spend £25 a month now on electricity, and most of that goes on the cars."
More energy storage providers - such as Ovo Energy, Powervault and Moixa are entering the market - particularly as electric vehicles (EVs) promise to become a useful addition to the domestic energy mix. BMW i3 batteries are already being used to store windfarm energy in Wales, so it makes sense to integrate such car battery tech into homes.
In the meantime, Tesla is leading the charge. Its wall-mounted battery the size of a fridge door can be installed inside or out. An array of electrical current sensors monitors energy usage and how much solar energy is being produced, while intelligent forecasting software predicts future usage and production.
"Based on the varying cost of electricity from the grid, Powerwall optimises the times it charges and discharges," says a Tesla spokeswoman.
"As Powerwall learns, you get the most value from your solar production without having to change how or when you use energy."
Meanwhile, Ovo Energy has launched a suite of batteries that can be used with or without renewable energy generation.
"I would describe the Tesla system as being designed to operate primarily on its own," says chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick. "You have to have generation. Ours is designed to be integrated into an existing grid."
Ovo's system helps householders make the most of cheaper off-peak energy - which can be roughly half the peak price - and also integrate the energy stored in their electric cars.
There's no need for solar panels or any other form of power generation; customers can simply charge their batteries overnight and export spare electricity back to the grid during the day.
Ovo's software, VCharge, manages this ebb and flow, drawing on information such as weather forecasts and television schedules to predict periods of high demand.
The obvious benefit to Ovo as an energy provider is that the technology flattens out the peaks and troughs associated with electricity daily demand, making it easier and cheaper to maintain a regular supply.
"But that translates into smaller bills," Mr Fitzpatrick points out.
The company's testing its technology in Orkney, Scotland, by installing its systems in local homes and allowing VCharge to control storage heaters and hot water cylinders.
"We're managing hundreds of devices and balancing that with a local wind farm," says Mr Fitzpatrick.
"In the past, the turbines often had to be turned off because the network didn't have enough capability."
Ovo thinks the energy saved could power the equivalent of 2,000 homes for a year.
"Storage has an important role to play supporting the country as it makes the exciting transition towards more low-carbon sources of generation, like wind and solar power, providing ever increasing system flexibility," a spokesman for the UK's National Grid tells the BBC.
But to have any significant effect at a national level, home energy storage needs to reach massive scale, and cost is currently an issue, with systems costing several thousands of pounds. Without serious government subsidies, householders would not recoup their costs for years.
"While the technology is proven and works, it's still at a nascent stage and doesn't benefit from economies of scale in production," says Nick Browne, an analyst at energy research consultancy Wood Mackenzie. "Therefore it's currently expensive.
"But we expect that battery costs could fall by 50% by 2025. If this happens, battery installations will grow significantly, boosting renewable energy penetration further and reducing the role for fossil fuel generation."
In south Australia, Tesla is installing its kit in 600 homes this year, and up to 50,000 by 2022. The aim is to create a "virtual power plant" with 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt-hours of battery storage.
"At key moments, the virtual power plant could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant," Tesla claims, leading to lower bills and a more secure supply.
But this is still very small beer compared with the amount of energy stored by pumped hydro, which accounts for 96% of all energy storage worldwide.
These are early days for home energy storage, but for some householders the cost isn't an issue.
"Financially, it's not there yet, but I'm not doing it for financial reasons," says Warren Philips of Shoreham, Kent, another Powerwall user.
"It's about my daughter and changing the world for her."
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