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Shell-owned German solar battery firm sonnen sets sights on growth

Shell-owned German solar battery firm sonnen sets sights on growth

Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz:

* Battery market still small but growing fast

* Stuck at home in pandemic, consumers buy gadgets

* Only few players have global supply offering

By Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell-owned German solar battery maker sonnen expects to expand in line with its core market, which is growing fast as people look to move away from fossil fuels.

Oliver Koch, who became chief executive in September, said sonnen’s batteries, which are mainly aimed at homeowners with solar photovoltaic systems, allowing them to store their power output for later use, held big potential.

“We are growing at the same speed as the overall marketplace. The German market is expected to expand by 30% this year and we will not want to lose any market share,” he said, adding sonnen’s share amounted to 20%,” Koch told Reuters.

Globally, the company’s competitors include South Korea’s LG Chem and Tesla.

Independent market research cited by sonnen shows there were 180,000-200,000 batteries installed in Germany in early 2020, with sales having more than doubled in two years.

New battery sales in 2020 could have hit 70,000-80,000, when 120,000 households installed solar for the first time.

Germany already has 2 million rooftop photovoltaic systems as the country moves away from fossil fuels for its energy needs and there is scope for many more as there are a total 15 million detached and semi-detached buildings.

Homeowners were focusing on gadgets and energy optimisation, with many stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis and discovering that battery prices were falling.

Customers were also expecting to put batteries to use charging electric cars and heat pumps, an area where utilities are active and oil majors want to gain access, Koch said.

Koch said sonnen, which has sales totalling several hundred million euros number and employs 750 people, had so far sold 60,000 batteries around the world. Apart from Germany, sonnen is also active in the United States, Australia, Britain and France.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz, editing by Alexander Smith)


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