German solar battery maker sonnen says it’s expecting to grow in line with its core market over the next few years. The company, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, believes that its rapid growth over the last two or three years is due to consumers increasingly choosing renewables power over fossil fuel power.
sonnen’s new chief executive, Oliver Koch, said that the company’s batteries are aimed at homeowners with existing solar power systems and that these products hold a lot of potential for growth as people look more to store renewables rather than revert to grid power after sundown.
Koch, who was chief operating officer at Paramount Solar in California before joining sonnen in 2014, said that the company was growing apace with the renewables and storage marketplace. The German market alone, he said, is expected to grow by 30% in 2021 and sonnen doesn’t want to miss out on any of this new market. At present sonnen has 20% of the German market.
This isn’t to say that sonnen is without rivals, as its main competitors include Tesla and South Korea’s LG Chem, which produces compact and lightweight lithium-ion batteries for domestic use.
According to independent market research, German households installed between 180,000 and 200,000 batteries during the first half of 2020. In 2016, the country had a total of just 52,000 batteries. August 2018 saw the 100,000th German home to install a battery, just a couple of months after the millionth home to install solar panels.
A lot of rooftops
Two years later and Germany has more than two million rooftop PV systems and the country is determined to leave fossil fuels further behind. There are more than 15 million detached and semi-detached residences and other buildings in Germany too, so the potential for solar and storage is immense.
The covid-19 pandemic helped people to make the move
With so many people all over the world working and studying from home, the emphasis was firmly on saving energy and money during the height of the pandemic. This meant that many homeowners finally took the plunge and went solar, or added a battery to their existing PV system to get the most out of the sun. The fact that battery prices had fallen sharply in late 2019 and early 2020 certainly helped.
Domestic customers are getting smarter, it seems, with many intending to use their new solar batteries for charging electric cars and running heat pumps. These two areas are ones in which “regular” utilities and oil giants have shown a lot of interest, so if solar can nudge the fossils out of this particular niche, it’ll represent a definite turning point.
sonnen has made sales of more than several hundred million euro, according to Koch and the company, which employs almost 800 people, has sold more than 60,000 batteries to date. It’s not only active and thriving in Europe, either, with sonnen having a definite presence in Australia and the United States as well.