Sonnen Ships Its 10,000th Battery, Putting Pressure on Tesla and Utilities
“Our goal is really to create a world where everyone is able to cover their own energy needs with a decentralized energy source.”
German startup Sonnen shipped its 10,000th battery system this week, claiming a leading position in the global smart energy storage market as it takes on Tesla and shakes up the traditional electricity business model.
Sonnen marked the milestone by gifting German homeowner Stefan Wolpert an extra 2 kilowatts of battery capacity and a free membership to sonnenCommunity — Sonnen’s decentralized energy trading platform.
The shipment announcement comes on the heels of the startup’s expansion into the U.S. last month, with a new headquarters unveiled in Los Angeles and a rapidly growing distribution network. Sonnen has already partnered with 30 local solar installers and aims to reach 100 partners by the end of the year.
In early February, Sonnen announced that it is now ready to install systems in Hawaii after meeting the advanced energy storage requirements from the Hawaii Electric Companies (HECO). The sonnenBatterie, which comes fully equipped with smart energy management technology, is billed as an “out-of-the-box” solution that meets the obligations under HECO’s new distributed energy tariffs. Company executives say a 4-kilowatt-hour sonnenBatterie in Hawaii will cost about $10,000 and provide a return on investment in as little as 6.5 years.
At the outset, Sonnen is targeting sales to solar customers in places with high electricity costs, like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. California is another promising market, where storage benefits from incentives and can help solar customers arbitrage time-of-use rates. But the company ultimately sees batteries offering financial and resiliency benefits across the U.S., and is currently working with Spruce to offer attractive financing packages for energy storage in all 50 states.
Sonnen already has 1,000 battery storage systems under contract in the U.S. and aims to contract for up to 3,500 systems through the year. As Sonnen increases its U.S. presence, it continues to grow sales in seven European countries, Australia and the Philippines.
“Our goal is really to create a world where everyone is able to cover their own energy needs with a decentralized energy source,” said Boris von Bormann, CEO of Sonnen North America, at the company’s L.A. office launch. “Of course we love the utilities, but just imagine if you could take your energy future into your own hands.”
Tesla vs. Sonnen
Sonnen is not the only company seeking to empower customers through energy storage, however. Tesla and several other contenders are also making major energy storage plays.
Tesla did not respond to a request for specifics on battery shipments. However, the company has confirmed making its first battery shipment to Australia and is “starting shipments of Powerwalls and Powerpacks worldwide,” said JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, on a recent earnings call.