Location: Wildpoldsried, Bavaria, Germany
Financial Intermediary: SET Ventures
Sector: Renewable energy
Number of employees: +/- 400
Financing purpose: working capital, sales expansion and product development
EIF financing: COSME EGF; EFSI
As the energy sector faces the evolving realities of the economy, technology and the environment, new approaches to the industry are emerging to offer innovative solutions. One company out to face the challenge of ensuring clean and affordable energy for everyone is sonnen GmbH.
The sonnenBatterie is their lithium-based energy storage system that stores and optimises self-generated solar power. It facilitates an interconnected energy community where members can share their energy with each other, moving towards true energy autonomy for residents. At the same time, the sonnenApp allows close monitoring, analysis and control of energy usage and production at the level of the household.
Steffen Schneider, Chief Financial Officer, explains that “One of the limitations of solar energy has been that the periods of peak energy usage do not coincide with the hours of peak sunshine. With sonnenBatterie it is possible to bridge that gap and make the energy available for later use or even sell the surplus to the grid.”
The company aims to decentralise both energy creation and storage and create a connected digital environment where all customers across countries can have access to the combined capacity of the sonnen community. All of this at a more affordable price than traditional energy providers.
“Our goal is a world in which everyone is able to cover their energy needs with a decentralised and clean energy source. Everyone can connect with each other to share energy where and when it's needed” claims sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann.
Founded in 2010 in Wildpoldsried, a world-renowned renewable energy village, sonnen has already grown to be the world’s largest manufacturer of rechargeable energy storage systems and one of its fastest growing companies. But getting started was a challenge: “At that point in our development, with no profit to show, getting a loan was close to impossible” Steffen explains.
However, with an equity investment from SET Ventures, a fund backed by EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe, sonnen was able to access the financing they needed for working capital, to expand sales and to invest in developing the next generation of the product. Today, the company employs around 400 people. “The investment definitely had a real impact in terms of job creation. Without it, the company would have been much smaller or most likely never even have taken off” Steffen concludes.
René Savelsberg, CEO of SET Ventures, particularly appreciated the disruptive potential of the business: “We saw in sonnen the new utility of the future, an innovative way of transitioning to de-centralised and clean energy production plus affordable use of electricity – that’s what attracted us.”
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