Sonnen starts shipping batteries made in South Australia to New Zealand

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From pv magazine Australia.

Delivering on its plan to expand market reach in the Asia-Pacific region, German storage specialist Sonnen has announced batteries made in its South Australia manufacturing plant will be exported to New Zealand from today. The “sonnenBatterie” hybrid, available exclusively through Auckland-based Taspac Energy, is a fully-integrated energy storage system that includes a solar inverter.

Sonnen said the product includes two new features: sonnenProtect, which isolates a storage system during a mains power blackout so households can get backup power for essential circuits, and Black Start, a feature that enables homeowners to recharge batteries with energy produced by their solar panels without a grid connection.

“The features in our new sonnenBatterie hybrid mean customers can be assured their energy supply is uninterrupted in [the] event of a natural disaster, or should their homes be located in an area where the grid is less resilient,” said Nathan Dunn, CEO of sonnen Asia Pacific.

The manufacturer took its battery technology to the factory floor at the former Holden car manufacturing site in Adelaide in late November. Since then it has hired more than 50 full time employees for production, warehousing, shipping and its call center and technical service. All of its production employees are former Holden workers.

Manufacturing heritage

“Holden has been recognized for its heritage in producing cars in Australia for many years,” said Dunn. “With its departure, Sonnen has now revitalized manufacturing by making clean tech manufacturing the new engine of growth. Not only does this support South Australia, it also benefits the trans-Tasman region as Sonnen is now reducing the lead time it takes to bring batteries to our customers in New Zealand.”

The German manufacturer confirmed it was setting up the Adelaide production facility a day after the South Australian government launched its landmark $100 million (US$70 million) Home Battery Scheme. Sonnen was the first battery manufacturer to join the program, which offers subsidies of up to $6,000 to households, in proportion to the size of system installed. Chinese producer Alpha-ESS followed suit along with Canada’s Eguana Technologies, with both unveiling plans to set up manufacturing facilities in Adelaide to tap the state’s booming storage market.

At its Adelaide plant, Sonnen aims to produce 10,000 batteries per year over five years to meet demand from Australian households and the Asia-Pacific region. The manufacturer’s expansion into New Zealand follows its takeover by oil major Shell as the German brand aims to extend its market reach.

“We see significant growth opportunities for Sonnen in New Zealand,” said Dwayne Cocker, director and general manager of New Zealand’s Taspac. “In recent years, Taspac Energy has seen an organic growth in the demand for home batteries with more households looking for independence from their energy retailers.”

According to the Sustainable Energy Association New Zealand, a PV system is installed in the country every 25 minutes. Around 30% of New Zealand households with a solar system have battery storage, a figure that has risen from 24% in 2017 and 16% in 2016.