sonnen started its humble beginnings with the sonnenBatterie, an innovation that appealed to no customers. The company is now one of the world's largest manufacturers of energy storage systems and has strategically transitioned to become a new kind of energy supplier that gives households the freedom to make a complete switch to a clean energy world.
Wildpoldsried, May 14, 2020 – sonnen celebrates the company’s 10th anniversary. Starting with a prototype in der founder’s garage, to one of the world largest virtual power plants based on home storage, sonnen has pioneered the way how households can use clean energy.
Founded in 2010 by Christoph Ostermann and Torsten Stiefenhofer in Wildpoldsried, Bavaria, sonnen created the sonnenBatterie which became the world’s first all-in-one Lithium ion home battery system available in the market.
The sonnenBatterie was a revolutionary idea during that time when photovoltaic systems on rooftops were only designed to export all of its excess electricity generated back to the grid instead of using this energy in a household.
"When we started sonnen, our vision was for every household to become a clean, small power plant. The sonnenBatterie was ahead of its time when the market for a home battery did not exist. We had no competition and we had no customers either," said Christoph Ostermann, founder and CEO of sonnen.
Over a decade, sonnen has evolved from being a manufacturer of home batteries to becoming an energy supplier for a new, clean and decentralised energy system.
The company now employs over 700 people in 9 locations worldwide and is one of the largest manufacturers of smart energy storage systems. sonnenBatteries are manufactured in Germany, North America and Australia. To date, over 50,000 households have a sonnenBatterie installed around the world. sonnen was acquired by Shell New Energies on 1 March 2019 and continues to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell.
"sonnen is a completely different organisation from when we first began. In a new market, that did not exist before, you have to adjust to new situations and to reinvent yourself permanently. That’s why we did not stop being a manufacturer for smart storage systems because we realized that it was just the first step of creating a new energy world that is clean, decentralised, digital and affordable. And that is where we’re going," said Christoph Ostermann.
Some of sonnen’s innovations include:
- sonnenCommunity, an energy community that combines all sonnen customers who can participate in producing, storing or even sharing their energy with others and benefit from this together as a community in several ways. Through sonnenCommunity, customers can for example participate in a virtual power plant (VPP) that provides grid stability when needed for the benefit of anyone who is connected to the grid. In some markets, households who participate in the sonnenCommunity receive an annual profit share in return.
- With a new VPP software sonnen has developed a crucial platform for a new energy system that connects electric devices to form a virtual power plant. It allows a network of storage units to participate in the control power market. Providers can license to network to network micro-installations of up to 25 kW. This includes home storage systems such as the sonnenBatterie, heat pumps to charging devices for electric vehicles through the public Internet.
- sonnenNow, a package that is available in Germany which allows customers to rent a photovoltaic system and a sonnenBatterie for a monthly fee, rather than having to purchase this outright.
- sonnenDrive is an all-inclusive-subscription for a brand-new electric car for six months to trial if an electric vehicle suits their lifestyle. That offer is limited to Germany right now.
"For most households, the issue of energy supply has looked the same for decades. There's an electricity contract and households are billed for the annual kilowatt hours consumed. This is short-sighted because the entire energy system is undergoing fundamental changes. As a new energy supplier, sonnen is giving households complete and easy access to greater possibilities to achieve energy independence on their own terms," says Christoph Ostermann.
sonnen has been established in the UK and Irish markets since 2015 and has grown every year. In addition to their high quality hardware, sonnen has take a step further and using their advanced software, can aggregate their batteries into a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) which is used to help stabilise the grid. sonnen are working with a number of partners in this space, including Centrica, who’s Local Energy Market (LEM) project in Cornwall is using the sonnen VPP to pride Dynamic Firm Frequency Response (FFR) services to National Grid.