German battery storage developer Sonnen will consider establishing manufacturing operations in Australia for its Sonnenbatterie household product if the local market proves as strong as predicted.
Sonnenbatterie is the biggest selling battery storage product in Europe, with around 40 per cent of the market, and recently expanded to the US, and this week announced the launch of its battery storage products in Australia.
The company has been selling small numbers of its battery storage technology in Australia for several years, but has established a base in Australia to coincide with the release of the 14th version of its Sonnenbatterie.
Sonnenbatterie is a modular system which starts at 2kWh and can be built up to 16kWh depending on customer needs.
It aims for the premium end of the market. Country director Chris Parratt (pictured above) says the price for an initial 2kWh will likely be around $A5,000, depending on installer charges, and around $12,000 to $13,000 for a 6kWh system.
Parratt says this is comparable with rivals such as Tesla, and also seems to be in the ballpark of the package announced this week by Australian battery storage developer Redflow.
Parratt says the Sonnenbatterie package comes as a “plug-and-play”, means it includes the inverters and smart controls that allow the battery storage to integrate with rooftop solar, household appliances and the network. And it is easy to install.
The company had hoped to have a shipment of its batteries in Australia now, but better than expected sales in Germany, Italy and the UK exhausted its stock. Parratt says the stock should arrive in May.
But he said Sonnen is looking to establish manufacturing operations in Australia is sales are strong enough.
Currently, the battery cell, made by Sony, is shipped from Japan to Germany, where it is integrated with the other components, and then shipped to markets. Parratt says it would make sense to do that integration in Australia for the local market.
“We are thinking about doing it here in Australia if sales are sufficient,” Parratt told RenewEconomy in an interview this week. “There would definitely be cost benefits to manufacturing it here.”
Sonnen has been making battery storage for more than a decade, with its units in 2002 selling for 30,000 euros. Still, it sold 2,000 unit that year.
Parratt expects costs to continue to fall. The currend model is 14 per cent cheaper than the previous one. He expect the trajectory for sales and costs to follow that of rooftop solar.
He says the advantage of a modular system is that it can fit the market. Many Australian households have only 1.5kW of solar and don’t need big battery storage. Others have much bigger solar systems that will need bigger storage units.
Parratt says that the Sonnenbatterie can work with new systems – it has teamed up with True Value Solar to launch a rooftop solar and battery storage package, and in the retrofit market.
Australia has 1.5 million solar households, and more than half of these are in regional areas, where grid costs are high. This is a market that interests Parratt.
“This is going to be a bit like the solar market. It is going to heat up and we are going to see a lot of products on the market. And that will be followed by a slow down and consolidation.”
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.