Will this be the year of energy storage software?

Will 2016 be the year of energy storage software and virtual power plants? We look at developments from companies who are driving the industry like Greensmith, Autogrid Systems and Electro Power Systems, Sonnenbatterie and LichtBlick.

Energy storage software and virtual power plants: We look at developments from companies driving the industry, like Greensmith, Autogrid Systems and Electro Power Systems, Sonnenbatterie and LichtBlick. Photo: Electro Power Systems

By Jason Deign

Recent announcements have signalled growing interest in the development of software systems that can tie energy storage assets together to form virtual power plants.

Last month, for example, the European utility E.ON joined American Electric Power as a major investor in Greensmith, one of the world’s largest providers of energy storage software and integration services.

Meanwhile the energy analytics software firm AutoGrid Systems, of Redwood in California, USA, joined forces with Paris-based hydrogen storage developer Electro Power Systems to build and operate “software-defined power plants.”

The December announcements follow a growing number of energy storage software developments in 2015.

E.ON’s interest in Greensmith, for example, could be seen as countermeasure against Sonnenbatterie’s November announcement of a community based energy-trading platform in Germany.
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The storage player taking on utilities

Sonnenbatterie is going to take on utilities, with a residential P2P energy trading model using battery energy storage in Germany. Photo: Sonnenbatterie eco

Sonnenbatterie is taking on utilities in Germany, with a residential P2P energy trading model that uses its Sonnenbatterie eco battery energy storage system and an innovative software platform. Photo credit: Sonnenbatterie

By Jason Deign

An energy storage player could become the first company to seriously undermine the utility business model following an announcement being made today. Sonnenbatterie, a storage firm with around 50% of the residential battery market in Germany, has unveiled a community energy exchange model that could in theory allow users to swap electricity and cut out utilities altogether. The concept has already been pioneered by German companies such as LichtBlick and confirms the importance of residential storage in creating peer-to-peer energy trading networks.

What sets Sonnenbatterie apart is the sophistication of its model. “We know LichtBlick is going in the same direction and we are ahead of [them],” said Sonnenbatterie’s managing director, Philipp Schröder.

The company is offering to give its 8,000 or so German customers access to a software platform that it says could cut electricity costs by 25%.
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