Shell buys Sonnen, Tesla's competitor in the household battery business



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A worker assembling a Sonnen battery.
Enlarge / Photo of an employee of the solar battery manufacturer, Sonnen GmbH, located in the Bavarian village of Wildpoldsried, in southern Germany, on July 5, 2016.

CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP / Getty Images

On Friday, the Dutch oil group Royal Dutch Shell and the German energy storage company Sonnen announced that Shell would buy Sonnen for an undisclosed amount.

Sonnen was one of the leading competitors in the US domestic battery market with the Tesla Powerwall. The company has established its headquarters in Germany, connecting batteries for self-consumption to homes equipped with solar panels. Sonnen now claims 40,000 batteries installed in homes in Germany, the United States and Australia.

The assets of the company include proprietary software that optimizes the use of a home's battery in combination with solar power.

Last May, Sonnen deployed a "virtual battery" system in Germany, bringing together residential batteries in megawatt blocks. As Sonnen noted in a press release of the time: "In case of divergences in the frequency of the network of 50 Hz, the energy storage systems are able to provide automatically and in a few seconds either of energy to the grid according to current needs.Today, it was mainly CO2– the intensive power plants that have been used for this main balancing power; The residential network energy storage systems from Sonnen help to speed up the withdrawal of these plants from the grid in Germany. "

Shell is better known as a retailer of CO types2– an intensive fuel that Sonnen sought to eliminate with its virtual battery, but Shell has invested in recent years in a low-carbon technology in order to diversify before a future subject to a regulation to reduce carbon emissions . In today's acquisition announcement, Shell announced that it would focus on "EV charging solutions and providing network services based on Sonnen's virtual battery pool".

Shell recently bought an electric vehicle start-up company called Greenlots and in 2017 acquired NewMotion, a Dutch company that operated 30,000 EV charging stations in Europe.

The subsidiary making these acquisitions and investments for Shell is Shell New Energies. It was founded in 2016 to advance the company's interests in the fields of electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.

Correction: This story originally said that Sonnen had 400,000 batteries installed in the world. The number has been corrected to 40,000.

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