Czech utility invests in Sonnenbatterie

Sonnenbatterie’s success is continuing with the news that Europe’s largest utility, ?EZ, has invested in its energy storage solutions. According to an Inven spokesperson, "a few hundred million" Czech Koruna have been channeled into the German company (100 million CZK = US$4.08 million), thus adding to the US$13 million already raised in venture capital from partners SET Ventures, Munich Venture Partners, and eCapital.

Commenting on why Sonnenbatterie was selected, the spokesperson told pv magazine, "Its prices are some 30% to 50% below other solutions available in the market, which represents a major competitive advantage for Sonnenbatterie. It has thus far sold some 8,000 intelligent energy storage systems and its sales have more than doubled year-on-year. This growth trend is expected to continue and now Inven Capital can be part of its further expansion due to its company share.

In an article published last week, Expert analysis: The solar storage story, IHS’s Sam Wilkinson told pv magazine that he found the Sonnenbatterie storage system (#21 in pv magazine’s Array Changing Technologies guide), which has captured a "significant" share of the German storage market, "quite interesting."

He was uncertain of the company’s claims of 100% discharge and longer lifetimes, however. "If they’ve managed to move the depth discharge to 100% and increase the cycles then that is a significant improvement. But I am slightly cautious of that," he said.

Failing to respond to questions on the state of Czech Republic’s solar market, and specifically if ?EZ was planning to roll out energy storage to its domestic customers, the Inven spokesperson said, "By investing in Sonnenbatterie, we are fulfilling one of the core pillars of ?EZ’s strategy, which is to develop our activities in decentralised energy and renewable sources. It is also a major milestone in implementing our growth plans in Germany and Central Europe. We plan to offer these solutions to millions of ?EZ clients in the future in line with our strategy."

In a statement released, ?EZ said it is looking for further acquisition opportunities in the "New Energy sector." While the spokesperson did not provide specifics, they said Inven’s strategy is to identify opportunities for investing in smaller, innovative and growing clean-tech firms in Europe. Over the next five years, it intends to invest around 5 billion CZK in between 15 to 20 companies "and then to sell them if profitable."

"It [the strategy] primarily focuses on later-stage growth investment opportunities with a proven business model that have generated exponential revenue growth with long-term growth potential," they said.