Sonnen’s Home Energy Storage System Yields RMR from ‘Virtual Power Plants’
It’s been a while since custom integrators could get “energized” about a new equipment category. But residential energy storage could “spark” a whole new wave of enthusiasm, along with high profits and recurring monthly revenue (RMR), among integrators.
The newest entrant into the space is Sonnen, a 10-year-old Germany-based maker of high-end residential energy storage systems. The company’s technology is widespread in Europe, serving nearly 30,000 homes, the company claims. Sonnen stuck its toe in the custom electronics channel at last year’s CEDIA Expo, but is going full force at this year’s show with a new product dubbed EcoLinx.
Targeted specifically at home-tech pros, EcoLinx is a complete energy storage system, including battery and inverter, available with third-party smart home automation control capabilities. But Sonnen’s offering is not just a high-margin battery pack for dealers to install. Using software, Sonnen gives integrators the ability to bundle clients’ homes together to create Virtual Power Plants (VPP), and then sell the cumulative stored energy back to the utility company to earn RMR.
Decentralization, Decarbonization and Digitization
According to Blake Richetta, senior vice president at Sonnen, the time is ripe for the smart energy market to take off.
“The reality is that the power grid must become more decentralized, more decarbonized, and more digitalized,” he says of the grid’s “three D’s.”
Decentralization is the need to move away from a power grid that moves electrons from a power plant hundreds of miles over wires to individual homes. This antiquated system was created over 100 years ago, and is universally deemed to be inefficient and expensive.
“From a scientific perspective, [the antiquated power grid] is literally bonkers from an efficiency standpoint,” exclaims Richetta. The other reality of decentralization is that utilities are not going to build new coal burning power plants in the U.S., not to mention the high cost for the transmission infrastructure.
“Today, in the world of renewable energy, it is very feasible to have hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of little power nodes all over the place that produce energy,” says Richetta, who previously worked at Lutron for many years and had a stint at Tesla.
That decentralization leads to the need for decarbonization.