Watch out Tesla. German energy storage company sonnen is strengthening its presence on the U.S. East Coast with an investment in its Atlanta, Ga. plant.
Pushing virtual power and other battery-based innovations, sonnen plans to combine under one roof all of its U.S. product development and manufacturing. It’s calling the Georgia facility its ‘InnovationHub.’
The company sees the consolidation as a way to ramp up production and make energy storage more affordable. Sonnen also has facilities in Germany and California.
“sonnen U.S. has experienced exponential sales growth over the past year, making the sonnen InnovationHub a smart investment to capitalize upon the immense potential of the North American energy storage market,” said Christoph Ostermann, sonnen Group CEO.
Bringing its U.S. manufacturing and R&D teams into one facility will allow sonnen to “increase the rate of product innovation, and enable us to better adapt to the future needs of the high-growth U.S. residential energy storage market,” he said.
The U.S. is viewed as a top market for energy storage, one which is growing more quickly than many analysts forecast, according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, “Energy Storage: An Underappreciated Disruptor.”
Morgan Stanley expects the U.S. energy storage market to grow from $300 million per year now to $2 to $4 billion per year in 2020, for a total addressable market of $30 billion or 85 GWh.
The company’s Atlanta expansion is already underway. Sonnen expects to begin production of sonnenBatterie products at the facility in the second quarter of 2017.
Sonnen is a rival to Tesla, which hopes to create a market for its Powerwall battery through a one-stop-shop offering of solar plus storage and electric vehicles.
Sonnen, too, is about more than batteries. The company describes its work as creation of smart energy management systems.
Back-up power and solar self-consumption are part of its play. Sonnen also is working on aggregating individual homes into virtual power plants to serve the grid.
In Europe, sonnen’s latest developments include the sonnenFlat-Box, which connects non-solar customers to the sonnenCommunity and grid services, and the sonnenFlat tariff, which provides community members with energy at $0 for 10 years.
The energy storage company describes the new products as “the next steps in virtual power plants whereby thousands of sonnenBatteries are aggregated into one large storage pool that provides both clean energy to customers and balancing energy for the powergrid in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
Next comes the U.S.
“The U.S. market represents significant opportunity for sonnen as we look to expand and encourage energy independence globally,” said Blake Richetta, vice president of sales for sonnen North America. “We’re seeing a rapidly growing number of homeowners interested in achieving energy independence, and a large portion of those are seeking smart storage and software capabilities for better efficiency and management of their renewable energy output.”
The energy storage company also presents itself as a job creator for America “amidst political uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad.”
“It’s gratifying and exciting for us when an innovative technology company like sonnen expands their footprint in Georgia,” said Costas Simoglou, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Energy Technology. “The sonnen InnovationHub is another success story that puts solar energy storage, a very critical part of the solar energy ecosystem, in the spotlight.”
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