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Interview With Sunverge CEO & Co-Founder Ken Munson (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

Maybe one of the most interesting things Sunverge Energy CEO and co-founder Ken Munson told me when I sat down to interview him was Sunverge’s philosophy of serving the needs of the grid and those of the energy consumer at the same time. “Many energy storage technologies are single purpose. Sunverge is different — our product is an energy management platform that serves multiple stakeholders simultaneously. For the utility, this means reducing the costs and complexity of managing the grid, delivering new value-added services, and increasing customer lifetime value. For the consumer, this means cheaper, more reliable power, delivered in ways that enable choice and control without sacrificing comfort,” Ken shared.

Sunverge Energy StorageThis kind of synergistic, big-picture approach came up a couple more times in our conversation. More on that is further down in this article. But Sunverge has other competitive advantages as well.

“A major differentiator with Sunverge is in our ability to ‘aggregate’ and ‘orchestrate’ distributed resources; allowing fleets of solar and storage assets to be managed as a virtual resource,” added Ken. “Sunverge has built a hardware and software platform, control algorithms, and cloud-based applications that operate together as a ‘virtual power plant,’ something that few others have done.”

Why SunPower Selected Sunverge

Of course, this is more of a question for SunPower* than Sunverge, but I thought it would be interesting to get Ken’s take on why SunPower chose to partner with Sunverge in the US and Australia. Ken noted, “SunPower is among a select few solar companies who approach this market from both consumer and utility perspectives. Sunverge shares this strategy; our lineage comes from distribution automation and switchgear and our roots are very much from the utility side of the industry. As a result, our platform was designed as a utility-grade asset with performance, reliability, and safety in mind. With SunPower’s vision and strategy to offer services and solutions for utilities as well as energy consumers, Sunverge was a natural fit.”


 

Sunverge Origins

Sunverge Energy Storage Unti“Since having founded the company in 2009, we have been focused on letting our achievements speak for themselves. We have hundreds of installations and over four megawatt-hours (MWh) of distributed, customer-sited storage deployed around the world with a dozen utilities. Our go-to-market strategy is to partner with companies who are best in class and who share our synergistic approach to delivering products and services to customers.”

There are “a few categories of competitors” to Sunverge, but when I primed the discussion for Ken to say why they weren’t as good, Ken smoothly highlighted that, “there are a lot of good companies that are doing a lot of good things, and their success in the market — at whatever level (media, pilot projects, commercial success) — validates the market and is good for the industry. So, their success is our success. The market opportunity in the coming years is pretty staggering.” I think that’s a great approach, so I was very happy to hear Ken say that.

Sunverge’s Vision for the Coming Years

SunvergeI asked Ken about the company’s vision for the coming 3 to 5 years, as well as how its offering may change.

When it comes to the battery technology the company uses, Sunverge’s offering is designed as an open-architected platform. At the moment, it is using Kokam lithium-ion batteries, since it sees them as the best fit for its needs. But it is open to changing battery technologies and providers as the market evolves.

In general, Sunverge is hitting its stride just as the market seems to be budding (to mix metaphors a bit). “We introduced our first product in 2010 and have been growing exponentially every year. We are now focused on scaling our platform and executing on our roadmap to take advantage of the virtualization aspect of the networked grid. We also have a very aggressive cost-down program that will improve upon an already solid return on investment offered by Sunverge. From the market perspective, we see major opportunities in helping utilities develop new revenue streams as well as incorporate more intelligence and analytics into their grid operations. The same is true with continued growth in residential and commercial solar PV markets and microgrid deployments. We’re proud of our success in deploying the number of systems we have, very few have done so at the scale we have. We see the future as very bright indeed.”

Needless to say, landing a big partnership with SunPower is enough to show that this is a company to watch. My conversation with Ken highlighted (for me, at least) why exactly that is the case, and how Sunverge stands out from a big crowd of ambitious battery storage companies. I’m sure we’ll have more news from the company before too long.

*Full Disclosure: I own stock in SunPower.

 
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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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