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Sonnenbatterie launches Powerwall rival weeks after hiring Tesla staff

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 00:00 -- Paul Crompton
Sonnenbatterie launches Powerwall rival weeks after hiring Tesla staff

German ESS company Sonnenbatterie has announced the launch of a battery-backed solar power storage system to rival Tesla’s Powerwall.

Sonnenbatterie’s lithium-ion solar power storage system, ‘SonnenCommunity’, connects households with battery-backed solar panels to store and use power on demand.

The launch coincides with a number of Tesla’s marketing employees defecting to Sonnenbatterie.

Among six new hires are marketing manager Jonas Rabe, who rejoins the German company after his stint at Tesla, and Tesla head of operations Philipp Schroder.

Tesla is planning to enter the German market early next year with its own wall-mounted solar power batteries.

The SonnenCommunity scheme differs from the Powerwall — due to reach German shores next year — in that it allows solar power to be shared among its members.

Germany has around 25,000 batteries in operation that are capable of storing solar power: a small fraction of the 1.5 million solar production units, but a fraction that is nevertheless growing, year on year.

However, the German government is about to call time on subsidies of distributed battery storage, an incentive that was introduced in 2013 to make solar battery storage more attractive to consumers.

The end of the subsidies could result in a 13% drop in market growth, predicts EuPD Research. The analyst firm reported that up to 16,000 small-scale solar storage systems would be installed in 2015, compared with just 5,000 in 2013 and 9,000 in 2014.