Competition is Heating Up in Battery Systems: the Rise of Sonnen

by Sharon Ha

Sonnen, a German start-up that specializes in battery systems, is rapidly growing and challenging established companies in the energy storage market, such as Tesla. Sonnen’s product, the sonnenBatterie, is available in a range of capacities for home and businesses. In addition to producing and storing solar energy, it detects optimal times to store energy or to draw down the battery, and saves energy in case of a power outage. While the system and installation starts at $10,000, Sonnen promises a return on investment since the battery cuts back on utility costs. Sonnen has sold over 10,000 batteries, and started its expansion into the US—they recently launched their LA headquarters, have partnered with 30 local solar installers in the area, and are ready to start installing systems in Hawaii. In a strategic move, Sonnen is focusing on locations where electricity is expensive, such as Hawaii and California. Furthermore, Sonnen continues to grow in European countries, Australia, and the Philippines.

Additionally, Sonnen provides a service named sonnenCommunity, which facilitates trading of self-generated energy amongst producers, consumers, and storage operators. It measures energy rates and enables peer-to-peer exchanges in real time. The community has proven successful in saving members money—currently; the service helps customers pay 20% less for electricity. However, this can sometimes irritate utility companies because it is taking away their customers and revenue. For its US expansion, Sonnen is working with a number of American utility companies to ensure collaboration and cooperation, especially because the US has more regulations on energy than other locations Sonnen operates in.

Sonnen’s main competitor, Tesla, a more established and renowned name, has also started shipping its Powerwall and Powerpack battery systems worldwide. It plans on targeting the residential, commercial, and utility-scale market, whereas Sonnen is focusing only on homes and businesses. Tesla has invested $500 million in its energy storage unit, including building a production factory and strong marketing and public relations campaigns. However, in some ways, Tesla’s campaigns have helped its competition. Because Tesla’s batteries are not yet widely available, potential customers turn to other companies, such as Sonnen.

 

“Frontpage US.” Sonnenbatterie, January 18, 2016. http://sonnen-batterie.com/en-us/start.

Stone, Mike. “Tesla’s Powerwall Hits the Australian Market, Fertile Ground for Storage,” February 16, 2016. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/teslas-powerwall-is-out-in-australia.

 

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