German startup Sonnen has supplied about a dozen schools, churches, and other buildings with its gear.
(Picture Above) A rendering of the Sonnen smart energy storage system in a home. (SOURCE: SONNEN)
With much of Puerto Rico still without power—almost six months after Hurricane Maria struck the island—German startup Sonnen is offering its $10,000 to $23,000 energy storage systems without charge to about a dozen blacked-out schools, churches, health-care facilities, and community centers. The Sonnen equipment links solar- and battery-powered buildings to distribute energy where it’s needed. The company’s 2,900-house development with Mandalay Homes in Prescott Valley, Ariz., will be the largest virtual power plant of its kind when completed this year. “Sonnen is definitely one of the pioneers,” says Brett Simon, an energy storage analyst at Greentech Media Inc.
HOW IT WORKS:
① Each part of a SonnenCommunity network stores solar energy in an internet-connected SonnenBatterie, a 4.5-foot-tall, 400-pound lithium ion battery.
② Sonnen’s cloud software tracks use and routes energy from locations with a surplus to those that need more. The system can also store and distribute energy for local electric utilities.
FUNDING: Sonnen, a 400-employee company founded in Wildpoldsried, Germany, in 2010, has received €98 million ($121 million) in funding from investors including General Electric Co.’s venture arm.
ORIGIN: Co-founders Christoph Ostermann and Torsten Stiefenhofer built their first battery prototype as a side project in 2008, when they were partners in a residential heating startup.
EARLY TESTS: The first SonnenCommunity, set up in 2016, connects about 10,000 homes throughout Germany. Because the company acts as a utility there, those without solar power can also become customers.
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