Energy Storage Spotlight: Sonnen

by Anna Gretz
April 29, 2017
Home Battery

German electricity prices are predicted to hit new record lows this month, and Sonnen’s getting excited. We’ve mentioned Sonnen before--they’re the German-based energy storage company that created the impressive, modular residential energy storage solution Sonnen Eco. The sleek, elegant Eco is the complete plug-and-play home battery experience, and it has made Sonnen a market leader in Germany with over 13,000 units sold (that’s what we call a proven product!) With the new news of dropping energy prices, Sonnen’s expecting an uptick in their already impressive sales record.

Felix Dembski, Sonnen’s Vice President of Strategy, recently stated that “New records for renewable generation are usually set in late April or early May. We expect a continued uplift in storage due to falling prices for renewables in Germany.” In short, Sonnen is hoping to be rolling in business this spring.

A little background on Germany’s impressive renewables record: last May (May 8th, to be specific), solar, wind, hydro and biomass production made up 87 percent of Germany’s total electricity demand. That’s when things turned crazy. The renewable energy takeover caused energy prices to essentially go negative with a power price of -$14 per megawatt-hour. Yes. Users were effectively being paid to take electricity off the power grid’s hands. It’s a brave new energy world, folks.

Since last May, German electricity prices have returned to the negatives a few times yet again, including the day after Christmas of last year, when utilities gifted their consumers with the appealing rate of -$13.30 per megawatt-hour. Prices dipped back into the red again just a few weeks ago, and the trend is set to continue as more and more renewable energy resources come online. Repeated periods of super-low prices have sent people running toward home batteries, like Sonnen’s Eco home battery. Why? Dembski said it best:

”Storage is the only technical solution to make sense of cheap, abundant, but intermittent electricity.”

With a home battery, consumers with or without rooftop solar can store electricity when rates are at their lowest (especially when they’re negative), and use that cheap energy when prices are higher. Home battery owners don’t have to coordinate with the intermittent windows of cheap energy--they can store it and use it anytime.

In 2016, Sonnen doubled it’s battery sales from 3,600 in 2015 to 7,200, and according to Dembski, they wouldn’t mind doubling it again. Business in Germany is booming, obviously, but Sonnen is shipping out their batteries to 2 other countries as well, including other European nations, the U.S., and Australia. In fact, Sonnen’s new U.S.-based factory is now open.

Atlanta is now proudly hosting the newest Sonnen factory, sharing space an equally awesome Sonnen research and development lab. Sonnen has been taking orders from the U.S. for the last 20 months, and response has been so high that they figured they’d move right in and save some money. Sonnen hopes that having a factory in the United States will help the company bring its products faster to the market. With the new factory, Sonnen can produce 200 new units per month (or more), according to Olaf Lohr, the Sonnen Director of Business Development.

Right now, the factory here on U.S. soil is focusing on residential batteries for energy security and backup power. After polling their current battery customers, Sonnen discovered that 90% of households in the U.S. were using their battery to make sure they had a backup power source in this age of frequent power outages.

Nationwide, power outages have become six times more frequent than they have in previous decades. Some homeowners have read about the growing vulnerabilities of the power grid, and decided to do something about it. Home batteries offer energy security in the face of a vulnerable power grid. If the grid cuts out for a few hours (in the case of bad weather, or rolling blackouts like those proposed in California), home battery owners don’t have to worry. Their home can still be powered by the energy stored by their home battery. For those who depend on electricity to power life-essential medical machinery, or for households that use electricity to heat or cool their homes during extreme weather, this sort of energy security can be a big deal.

Households equipped with solar panels and energy storage in the form of home batteries are protected from any utility company mishap, whether it be on a large or small scale. Home batteries allow households to power their own essential appliances like refrigerators, water pumps, and heating/cooling devices with stored electricity collected from their rooftop solar panels. The grid may be vulnerable, but individual households don’t have to be, thanks to Sonnen.

Swell is honored to offer Sonnen as one of our trusted, venerated home battery options. Designed in Germany, Sonnen’s residential home battery is the top premium choice for new and existing solar installations. It has definitely already proven itself in the market, with over 13,000 systems installed in Europe. The intelligent energy management controller and 10,000 cycle life make it a long-lasting, versatile option capable of any conceivable use. The clean design will appeal to those who value beauty in addition to function. The Sonnen solar battery is one you might put in your living room to show it off at your next dinner party. Click here for more details on our home battery options.