© Reuters. A general view shows the town of Wolpertshausen near Schwaebisch Hall, Germany, March 18, 2016. Picture taken on March 18. REUTERS / Michaela Rehle / Files
By Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s Solarwatt, backed by BMW’s billionaire shareholder Stefan Quandt, plans to launch a small module that allows homeowners to connect rooftop solar panels with energy storage batteries and electric vehicles to cut costs.
The wall box allows owners to control when and how much photovoltaic (PV) energy produced at home they store, use to charge their electric vehicles (EV) or sell to the grid.
The move targets sonnen owned by Shell, BYD from China, E3 / DC from Germany, Senec from EnBW, LG Chem, Varta and Tesla (NASDAQ :), which according to EuPD Research dominate the domestic storage market.
“The energy manager is the brains of the home,” Peter Bachmann, Solarwatt’s vice president of Customer Solutions, told Reuters ahead of a planned launch on Wednesday.
“Distribute energy from the roof in an intelligent way.”
The Manager Flex (NASDAQ 🙂 device, which looks like a wifi router and will go on sale for around 500 euros ($ 594), allows the integration of power flows and gadgets in the home, such as ceiling panels, batteries, pumps electric heat. and charging boxes for electric vehicles.
This follows a home storage battery deal with BMW last month, and Solarwatt, also active in France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain and Australia, aims to be a top five by the end of 2022, Bachmann said.
Bringing the energy and auto sectors closer together, Quandt, who owns nearly half of BMW with her sister Susanne Klatten, is taking a page out of Tesla’s strategy book, with products ranging from sunroof installations to automobiles.
“We are showing that we have a holistic way of thinking about our DNA,” said Quandt, who owns the majority of Solarwatt, last month.
Germany is an obvious starting point. With 300,000 stationary batteries, it is the world’s leading home storage market, ahead of the United States, Japan and Australia.
Germany’s battery market has increased tenfold since 2015 and is forecast to grow 60% this year, driven by its 16 million owners, of which two million operate with solar panels.
Energy components and home management systems need to be digitally linked to allow customers to control production, use and prices, and relate to the grid.
Heating and cooling providers such as Viessmann or the solar inverter manufacturer SMA are also active, developing steering devices and attracting customers to virtual communities.
“The deciding factor will be who supplies the entire home system, from photovoltaics to storage batteries and wall boxes (EV),” said Andreas Radics, Partner at Berylls Strategy Advisors.
Currently, it costs 7 euro cents to produce one kilowatt hour (kWh) of solar energy in Germany, one fifth of the energy on the grid.
A home that installs panels for generation, an electric heat pump to replace oil or gas boilers, and buying an electric vehicle instead of a gasoline car can reduce its CO2 emissions by 89%, he said.
That’s if you can afford it.
A photovoltaic and battery system together can cost around 15,000 euros, an electric heating system another 10,000 euros and an electric car between 30,000 and 40,000 euros, although smart buyers can make use of state support programs to cut almost in half. invoices.
For those who don’t respond to the incentives, Berlin has introduced punitive legislation, such as a new CO2 tax on heating and car fuels, as electric vehicle registrations passed the 1 million mark this week, and are expected up to 10 million by 2030.
“Increased sales of electric vehicles will directly induce a corresponding run on smart energy products at home,” said Steffen Apfel, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Sonnen CEO Oliver Koch said EVs are driving demand for the company’s photovoltaic systems and batteries: “One-third of buyers (from those segments) add a charging device for their electric vehicle,” He said.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, manufacturers are looking to the domestic sector because of the technological dynamics that provide synergy between stationary and electric vehicle batteries, but more importantly, because that is where their customers are.
Like its rivals Volkswagen (DE 🙂 and Daimler (OTC :), BMW faces a loss of revenue linked to combustion engines, forcing it to look for new areas of future profitability.
Electric vehicle manufacturers have begun to explore the links between electric vehicles and household electric circuits, to transform household and car electricity into one, and between electric vehicles and electricity grids, to offer stability and recycling services. used batteries.
It is in your interest that the wall boxes are supplied with solar energy, as this supports the ecological footprint of electric vehicles.
If filled with public networks, electric vehicles would necessarily have to absorb a current share of 50% of fossil and nuclear fuels.
“The (Germany’s) target of 10 million electric vehicles can only be achieved if the industry can make the customer a sustainable offer,” said a BMW spokesman.
($ 1 = 0.8412 euros)