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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Peer-to-peer energy: an opportunity for storage?

We look at the potential impact of peer-to-peer energy trading networks – such as those from Vandebron in the Netherlands and Open Utility in the UK – on energy storage.

What impact will peer-to-peer energy trading networks – like those from Vandebron in the Netherlands and Open Utility in the UK – have on energy storage? Photo credit: Vandebron

A growing interest in peer-to-peer energy trading raises questions over whether storage could help consumers gain extra benefit from distributed power generation.

Current attempts to trade energy on a peer-to-peer basis are primarily designed to let producers maximise their profits on excess power at the point when it is produced.

The Dutch platform Vandebron, for example, lets consumers buy power directly from independent renewable energy producers such as farmers who own wind turbines.

By eliminating the utility’s margin from the equation, producers can offer consumers cheaper energy and still make more money than they might with a traditional feed-in tariff or off-take agreement.
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