Soccer meets storage? Nissan, Eaton team up with Manchester City

Scoring a goal for renewables.
Scoring a goal for renewables.

Home energy storage soon no longer will be the preserve of energy geeks and green consumers if a new sponsorship deal signed by power company Eaton and football club Manchester (Man) City has the desired effect.

Announced this week, the sponsorship deal will see Eaton market its home energy storage unit  developed using second-life batteries from Nissan electric vehicles  to fans of the football club.

Fans will receive targeted content about energy storage across Man City channels over the coming weeks, including via the club's website, app and at "certain moments" during games. Die-hard fans also will be able to purchase a limited-edition Man City-branded storage unit for their homes.

At the end of 2016, around 2,000 residential storage units were installed in homes across the U.K. Analysts predict this could grow 70 percent over the coming year as costs fall and consumers become more comfortable with the technology.

Tom Glick, chief commercial officer of City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, told reporters the club aims to get football fans to consider energy storage as a viable option.

"Our job is to help bring it to life: help to raise its profile, help to tell a story, help to reach a big audience," he said. "We're very fortunate to work in a sport that has widespread appeal on a year-round basis, so our ability to reach millions of people in the U.K., and indeed around the world, to be able to convey the message about sustainability but also benefit for their own personal situation is right there for us."

He added that "phase two" of the deal could involve Eaton kitting out Manchester City's Etihad stadium in Manchester with storage products.

Frank Campbell, the club's infrastructure director, confirmed it is an idea the companies are actively exploring.

News of the deal coincided with the launch of the xStorage Home device in the U.K. Made at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, the battery packs will be installed in homes using a nationwide network of electricians from July, with prices starting at $6,466. As well as storing power, the battery packs also can feed energy back to the grid during times of peak demand.

The xStorage Home venture was first announced in May 2016 by Nissan and Eaton and launched in Europe late last year.

The initial U.K. target market is homes fitted with solar panels, which currently stand to gain the most financially from installing a storage device and minimizing their use of grid power. Nissan and Eaton claim the average home in the U.K. with a 3kW rooftop solar installation could save around $55.61 per month by installing its entry level 4.2kWh xStorage Home unit.

However, as the costs of electricity storage fall and electricity prices rise over the coming years, storage will become increasingly attractive even for homes without solar installed, the companies predict. Once smart meters are in widespread use across the country after 2020, consumers will be able to take advantage of "time of day" tariffs by storing electricity when it is cheap and either consuming it or selling it back to the grid when the price rises. 

Last month, rival storage provider Powervault teamed up with renewable electricity supplier Tonik Energy to trial the U.K.'s first "storage tariff." The tariff uses a smart meter to automatically calculate the cheapest time to store energy and the best time to use it  a move the two companies hailed a "gateway to intelligent tariffs."

The market still may be in its early stages, but it looks as if supporters of the clean technology soon should have plenty to cheer.

[Learn more about distributed energy systems at VERGE 17 in Santa Clara, California, Sept. 19-21.]

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