German battery maker sonnen GmbH yesterday said it has secured financial backing from GE Ventures, General Electric's venture capital subsidiary, to develop its brand of residential power storage systems. sonnen, formerly called Sonnenbatterie, is a start-up which besides producing storage batteries has also launched a scheme to connect households with solar panels and other consumers in Europe's first online energy sharing platform.
GE and existing investors in sonnen had together put up a double-digit million-euro sum in growth capital for sonnen, it said in a statement. Sonnen, whose backers also include German E-Capital and Czech firm Inven Capital, has to date sold 11,000 lithium battery units, making it the European market leader in that segment, said Philipp Schroeder, one of sonnen's managing directors. He said since the sharing platform, called "sonnenCommunity" was introduced last November in Germany and Austria, some 1,500 households had signed up for the scheme, which is aimed at making users independent of conventional suppliers.
He also said that sonnen was growing in the United States and Italy, where the community scheme would be launched by the end of 2016. Battery technology allows usage of clean energy even when weather conditions are not favourable. Long seen as expensive, it is moving into a price range which makes it increasingly affordable to ordinary householders. Incentives for German solar power producers to feed surplus supplies into the national grid are set to end in 2021, providing a reason for them to store more power themselves. Apart from energy, California-based GE Ventures also invests in healthcare, software, aviation, transport and appliances.