Tesla competitor Sonnenbatterie unveils community solar-storage system

Dive Brief:

  • German battery company Sonnenbatterie on Nov. 25 introduced a community storage system it says will render conventional electricity suppliers obsolete.
  • The system combines photovoltaic panels, batteries and a digitally control software platform as a way of allowing households to buy and sell electricity within a community.
  • Sonnenbatterie is also offering a discounted battery prices for customers who join a German grid that the company is forming that would connect users of its battery system.

Dive Insight:

German battery maker Sonnebatterie is giving Tesla Motors a run for its money in the residential storage market.

The Bavarian company says sonnenCommunity connects all energy producers and users in a region, allowing them to provide one another with renewable energy. The system not only stores electricity, but allows users to sell electricity to other members of the community.

The system consists primarily of residential photovoltaic panels, a sonnenBatterie that stores surplus power, and a system controller.

“This model of sharing electricity makes conventional utilities in Germany obsolete,” said Philipp Schröder, Sonnenatterie’s managing director.

At 3,599 euros ($3,830), a Sonnen 2-kWh battery and control system is below the 3,035 euro ($3,234) price of a 7-kWh Tesla Powerwall battery in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Sonnen introduced program that provides a 1,875 euro ($1,995) discount for customers who join a new community energy exchange program it unveiled at the same time it introduced sonnenCommunity.

For a monthly service fee the program, initially available only in Germany, allows Sonnenbatterie customers to share energy.

It will also afford homeowners a quarter of a euro cent ($0.0027) bonus on the feed-in tariff for residential solar, which currently varies between 0.09 and 0.12 euro cents/kWh ($0.10 to $0.13/kWh), as part of a German renewable energy commercialization incentive.

Sonnenbatterie plans to use the spare storage capacity across its user base to generate income by providing balancing power for the German grid, which would help pay for the discount.

As part of the expansion of the business model, Sonnenbatterie GmbH will be renamed sonnen GmbH.

No word yet on if or when the company, which has about 50% of the German residential battery market, will debut the community solar-storage offering in the United States, but Greentech Media reports executives want to roll out the model in its other active markets — Australia, Italy, Switzerland and the U.K. — "as soon as possible."

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Filed Under: Generation Transmission & Distribution Solar & Renewables Energy Storage Distributed Energy
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