Smart storage startup raises $85m to build a virtual power station

Smart storage startup raises $85m to build a virtual power station

Business news |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

The company, based in the Bavarian village of Wildpoldsreid, manufactures the lithium ion-based sonnenBatterie smart energy management home systems in Germany and in San José, California. Through its sonnenCommunity, homeowners throughout Germany can produce, store and share their own electricity. The latest development, sonnenFlat, allows thousands of sonnenBatteries to be aggregated into one large storage pool as a virtual power station. 

The funding will boost the development of new products such as sonnenCommunity and further expansion in the US, Australia, UK and Italy. “We want to become the energy supplier of the future, and fast growth and leadership in innovation are the keys to reaching this goal,” said Christoph Ostermann, CEO of sonnen Group. “With Envision Energy, we have gained a strategic investor who shares our vision, supplements our technology and has a strong presence in both the US and Asian markets.”

The investment includes two new backers, Envision Energy, and Thomas Putter, former CEO and ex-Chairman of Allianz Capital Partners and a leading investor in renewable energy technology, joining existing investors that include eCAPITAL, MVP, SET Ventures, Inven Capital and GE Ventures. 

In addition to its high-quality wind turbines, Envision Energy also develops software for decentralized energy sources and devices. Envision is represented worldwide and maintains numerous research and development centers in Asia, Europe and the US, including Silicon Valley, Houston, Texas and Boulder, Colorado.

“The future of energy is clean, decentralized and digital. With its sonnenCommunity platform and smart sonnenBatterie technology, sonnen already demonstrates how our energy infrastructure will look tomorrow. We were very impressed by their proven capabilities, their rapid growth and the high level of continuing innovation in the energy space. We want to support sonnen’s vision of the future of energy and make this future a reality together,” said Lei Zhang, CEO of Envision Energy.

The sonnenbatterie provides an AC output of 3kW to 8kW from 4 kWh to 16 kWh storage in 2 kWh steps and is guaranteed for 10,000 cycles or 10 years. The power management software stores excess energy from a renewable source such as a photovoltaic array or wind turbine and switches over to the battery to maintin a constant supply. 

The company was listed in the top 50 companies by MIT earlier this month, one of only two German companies in the list. “MIT has added sonnen into the mix with companies like IBM and Bosch, acknowledging the innovative power of storing and managing the sun in a unique way,” says Philipp Schröder, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of sonnen. MIT’s Technology Review cites “sonnen’s smart batteries, which include software to manage daily household energy use in addition to storing

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