Sonnenbatterie beats Tesla to the punch with US roll-out


Sonnenbatterie, the German-headquartered developer of energy storage systems, has rolled out its plug-and-play home battery system in the U.S. ahead of Christmas, beating Tesla to the punch in what is expected to be a competitive market in 2016.

Sonnenbatterie manufacturers its storage devices in San Jose, California, and has secured supply contracts with 30 dealers across the U.S. Demand for the battery is already strong, with a Sonnenbatterie spokesperson telling pv magazine’s German-language website that around 1,000 products have already been ordered.

In anticipation of continued high demand, Sonnenbatterie aims to increase production capacity at its San Jose site. Production is already running at full capacity, the company confirmed.

Sonnenbatterie’s system offers a complete package for the homeowner hoping to self-consume their solar energy. Alongside the lithium-ion battery, the plug-and-play system comprises an inverter, control and measurement technology contained within the box, which has been treated to a Tesla-esque makeover. The system can be accessed via computer or smartphone to ensure homeowners can always monitor their energy consumption usage and patterns.

Sonnenbatterie has already enjoyed success in Europe, particularly in its home market of Germany, where a growing self-consumption culture makes the Sonnenbatterie product – which can deliver a lifetime of 10,000 cycles making it well suited for daily loading and unloading – a leading option for homeowners.

In the U.S., Sonnenbatterie’s chief marketing and sales officer Philipp Schröder sees enormous potential for the technology. "The market in the U.S. is in its infancy," he said. "We’re entering this market at a very early stage, before most of the other competitors. We thereby gain a good starting position for remaining one of the leading providers in the U.S. in the long term."

Tesla’s Powerwall will begin retailing in the U.S. in January 2016, with Vermont utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) among the first to secure supply deals with the battery, which is expected to retail at around $3,000 for the 7 kWh version.

This price, however, does not include installation, inverter or additional software costs. GMP is, though, offering its customer zero-upfront cost financing options to encourage uptake.