2 March 2016


PV firm joins utility in fight for German battery market

Author: Jason Deign, Solarplaza

The German PV company Solarwatt has confirmed it will be supplying the residential solar-plus-battery systems due to be launched by electricity giant E.ON this year. The systems will be the same as those unveiled at last year’s Intersolar PV exhibition in October, and which “sold out within a quarter of an hour after the trade show ended,” said Solarwatt’s chief finance officer, Carsten Bovenschen. The company sold “a couple of hundred” systems before the end of 2015, and is aiming for around 2,000 in 2016, Bovenschen told Solarplaza.

Solarwatt’s initial sales focus will be on European markets where the company already has a presence, such as Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. But the Dresden-based firm is also eyeing expansion further afield, with imminent operations in Austria, Greece, Scandinavia and Switzerland, and potential launches in Australia, South Africa and the US “in the next three years,” Bovenschen said.

In Germany, Solarwatt is commercialising the PV-and-battery systems through up to around 100 installation companies and a handful of major corporate partners, including E.ON and Bosch.

Pricing of the systems is dependent on the size of the solar component, Bovenschen said, and could be between €7,000 and €9,000, including inverter, PV panel and value-added tax (VAT). The Solarwatt battery is being sold to end users for €5,500 including VAT.

The pricing equates to around €1,040 per kilowatt-hour of installed capacity, said Bovenschen, not far off the €1,000 per kilowatt-hour level that Boston Consulting Group considered could be the tipping point for residential storage.”

Nevertheless, Solarwatt is aiming to bring the price down even further for markets such as France, as part of technical improvements due in the next three to five years. “In Germany, it’s already a very good price,” said Bovenschen.

“The return on investment is 8 to 12 years, depending on energy consumption.”

Solarwatt’s lithium-ion battery systems come with a 12-year guarantee and are designed for daily cycling. The battery maker is believed to be Samsung SDI, although Bovenschen would not confirm this. In addition to low cost, Solarwatt is aiming to attract fans through the simplicity of its systems. The PV-and-battery pack comes in one 28kg and two 25kg boxes and can be set up in less than an hour by an installer.

“This has been designed to make installers’ life easier,” Bovenschen noted. “Once people are aware of our product, it’s a no-brainer.” It needs to be. In the German market, at least, competition is fierce between established players such as E3/DC and Sonnen and high-profile newcomers such as Tesla. Bovenschen said the market was expecting to see between 15,000 and 20,000 residential battery systems installed in 2016. “The German market will depend on electricity prices and the price development of battery systems,” he said.

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