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Dienstag, 11. Juli 2017
Energy storage: Sonnen aims to expand complete package solutions
Energy storage: Sonnen aims to expand complete package solutions
7/7/17, 11:00 AM -
For Sonnen, selling energy
storage batteries is just the first step towards opening up markets.
Philipp Schroeder, head of distribution, explains their strategy,
because actually it is all about enabling customers to become
self-sufficient – all year round.
Philipp Schroeder is head of distribution and marketing of Sonnen.
pv Europe: How would you evaluate your business for 2016?
In 2016 we sold a total of 7,200 storage units. This means that we
managed to double our sales compared to the previous year. Turnover
increased by 26 million euros to 42 million euros. So despite the
brouhaha over the public funding, we have reason to be cheerful.
Is external funding even a factor anymore?
fact is, it is becoming less important. In 2016, our storage units were
only externally funded to the tune of 30 percent. In the last quarter
we saw what amounted to a final spurt. That, however, had little to do
with external funding, but rather with us introducing our Sonnen flat
rate. November and December were our best months.
Did that continue into the new year?
the first quarter, business was significantly stronger than the same
period of the previous year. We are now reaping the reward of providing
training to installing companies and setting up our CRM system so that
our inside sales team can cooperate with our partners via this platform.
We use it to generate and distribute customer contacts as well as
conducting our customer service.
What prospects do you see for this year?
are hoping that the PV market will pick up again. These days, between
80 and 90 percent of all solar generators, at least for private
customers, are set up in combination with storage. We are also expecting
the storage market to become independent from the solar market.
What quantities are you hoping to sell in 2017?
it continues as it has started, sales could range between 10,000 and
13,000 units. That would be further growth by 50 percent, and it would
include international sales which are growing in importance: In Italy,
we sold 1,200 systems in 2016. The market there only got underway in
March, when the first funding programme for storage was launched in
Lombardy. We sold about a thousand units in the US. The Australian
market is also rearing its head as of March 2016.
How could the foreign markets continue to develop?
general, we start out in new markets such as Italy or Australia by
installing storage units, i.e. hardware. The next step then is launching
our Community. In Italy, we will announce this together with the
utility Edison. The Australian electricity market already is
liberalised. Power grids there tend to fluctuate very strongly. The
market for primary regulation is open to anyone. By late 2017, we are
planning to get involved as an independent utility.
How do you see the developments in Europe?
expect that the storage market in the UK will grow significantly.
Traditionally, the UK has not had a feed-in tariff for solar
electricity, but rather a generation tariff which incentivises the
generation of solar power – regardless whether it is for feeding into
the grid or self-consumption. The only constraint on this market is that
after the drastic slump, many solar installing companies dropped out of
the market. Also, storage units that connect on the AC side were
defined as generators and taxed accordingly. Now, that legal situation
has been changed: Installing companies can legally sell and install such
systems. Regulation energy also plays a major role. Megawatts’ worth of
large-scale storage has been connected to the grid in the UK. Because
of the metres by tiko, our batteries are very suitable to this market.
Do you see other markets on the rise?
example, in Sweden we sold several units. Naturally, this market does
not have as large a potential. In Sweden the state subsidises
investments in storage with 60 percent, which is a decent amount. In
Spain there are some legal barriers, but things are also beginning to
move there. The government in Madrid is very worried about a recurrence
of cases of feed-in tariff fraud that once happened in connection with
PV. On the other hand, because of the high solar irradiation and the
strong prevalence of PV in some regions, the Spanish market is very
interesting when it comes to retrofitting storage units. In Belgium, we
have already sold several hundreds of SonnenBatteries.
This year, the sector is expecting significant rise in commercial energy storage. Are you also expanding into that segment?
We at Sonnen see ourselves as a brand for the end customers.
Our SonnenBatterie Pro can cover up to 48 kilowatt hours, which should
be interesting at least to smaller businesses. Any projects larger than
that require their own planning department, i.e. a team of engineers,
because storage solutions like that are planned, designed and installed
to fit the specific requirements of a given company. Pre-financing and
financing of such projects also demands specific solutions.
How do you arrange the cooperation with the installing companies?
We cooperate very closely and directly with our partners and make it a point not to go through wholesalers. We support our partners in all aspects,
such as marketing, service and sales. For instance, we use our online
platform or our hotline to collect leads to potential customers and pass
these on to our partner installation companies for free. That way they
no longer need to buy in leads from elsewhere and are continuously
supplied with new contacts to stakeholders interested in us. Together
with our partners, we have settled on an average price for a PV
installation, which, depending on the scale and complexity of his needs,
we can quote customers on our website. We not only market energy
storage units, but can also offer PV solutions to go along with them.
So your business is expanding outward from just energy storage...
we provide installing companies and their customers with PV, energy
storage units and the electricity contract, all as one package. Partners
such as Energeticum sell 100 storage units in a month, and this is how
we develop such synergies. We are partners to the installing companies –
their front end into the end customer market. This allows us to
increasingly get into competition with the utilities. We no longer
really see ourselves as competing with other manufacturers of PV or
storage units. (Heiko Schwarzburger)