Sonnenbatterie launches solar+storage community platform

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In the new energy world, new forms of energy supply are required. With a virtual network, distributed battery owners can now connect with owners of PV systems, through a new platform developed by Sonnenbatterie, so that they can also share and trade their aggregated solar power in the future. The new platform has been named sonnenCommunity.

The solar battery from Germany’s south, wants to offer low-cost electricity as of 2016. The manufacturer presented its new Sonnencommunity concept in Berlin today. It involves a virtual network in which electricity from distributed PV can be over aggregated, balanced and traded in real-time, Sonnenbatteries Chief Sales Officer Philipp Schröder told pv magazine.

Sonnenbatterie’s goal is to build a virtual pool of owners of PV arrays and solar systems. Surplus electricity generated by PV and not utilized by home or business owners will initially divided among the members, and if not needed, will be traded on the wholesale market, Schröder explains. In addition, Sonnenbatteries intends to charge the batteries when wholesale electricity prices are in negative territory, to provide to the "community". This will allow members to save value added tax (VAT). The community concept will be rolled out to existing and new Sonnenbatterie customers.

For new participants to the program Sonnenbatterie plans to offer a discount on its battery system of €2,000 (US2,116). Given this, and a monthly fee of €19.99 per month, a LCOE of €0.23/kWh (US$0.24/kWh) is anticipated. This is competitive with retail rates in Germany.

However, Sonnenbatterie’s virtual community will offer an additional advantage, the company claims. Through harnessing the power of the aggregated storage systems, higher levels of renewable penetration will be enabled. Germany, in particular in its southern regions, already achieves periods in which renewable energy reaches very high levels within its networks.

Sonnenbatterie is also employing new software that can visualize the aggregated storage in real time. The company envisages eventually integrating heating services onto the platform.

A pilot for the community power program will start, according to Schröder, in the coming year in Germany.

A second phase of the project could incorporate rental properties, which are more common in Germany than in Anglo-Saxon cultures, in which pooled renewable energy could be provided. However, Sonnenbatterie imagines that limitations on this may have to be placed.

"We want to ensure that the sources of supply remain authentic and the customers receive green electricity that really is regionally produced," Schröder added.

Edited by Jonathan Gifford