The 2,900 Home sonnenCommunity Demonstrates The Potential Of Neighborhood Solar+Storage

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CleanTechnica spent some quality time with the folks over at sonnen while at the 2018 Solar Power International (SPI) show in Anaheim, California, and was absolutely blown away by the category-defining sonnen ecoLinx residential energy storage, demand response, and automation solution it debuted earlier last month.

We also spent some time at the event talking with sonnen senior vice president Blake Richetta, who gushed about a disruptive new community sonnen is partnering on with Mandalay Homes, in which a mind-boggling 2,900 homes will receive a sonnen energy storage solution and a complementary (not complimentary) rooftop solar installation.

“Mandalay and Arizona Eco-Development have partnered to deploy a radical new residential master community design topology including clean energy generation, self-sufficiency and self-consumption via a smart energy storage system in combination with an efficient load profile and a sealed home, all anchored on intelligent grid interaction,” said Blake Richetta, sonnen’s senior vice president and head of sonnen’s US subsidiary.

“This master planned Jasper community represents the single most significant innovation in how new homes can contribute to the decarbonization of our electricity grid. The 2,900 homes in which the sonnenCommunity will be deployed in Prescott Valley represent a true clean energy revolution, setting a new standard in energy efficient communities that will challenge the status-quo associated with the US electricity grid.”

In total, the carbon-neutral community will represent a 23 megawatt-hour (MWh) energy storage bank with 11.6 MW of power output potential. The energy storage capacity and power output potential of the 2,900 homes would be aggregated into a virtual power plant (VPP) that allows the collective to negotiate and respond to needs of the grid as a single unit. Mandalay Homes and sonnen continue their ongoing dialogue and collaboration with the local utility as homes in the community are brought online.

The sonnenCommunity is truly a case where the total is greater than the sum of the parts. Each of the sonnen units being installed in all of the 2,900 homes has the capability to communicate with the homes around it in what feels a lot like the intelligence of a hive of bees. The hive mind of the sonnenCommunity will work together, without intervention from homeowners, to balance and flatten the perceived load of the entire community to the grid.

The net result of the actions taken within the hive is that the overall impact of the community to the grid is significantly muted. It self-moderates and self-balances as much as it is able to, only calling on the grid when it absolutely has to, or when it is the most cost effective option. This translates to a reduction in the carbon footprint of the entire community, as the local utility will not have to spool up expensive, inefficient, and polluting peaker plants to cover spikes in demand from the Jasper community, thanks to the power of the sonnen hive mind battery system. The sonnenCommunity is the power of distributed energy generation and storage, realized.

The new master-planned Jasper community will see sonnen’s battery technology paired up with some of the most state-of-the-art homes out there. Mandalay Homes has won numerous awards that attest to its innovation in residential energy efficiency, air sealing, demand response, rooftop solar installations, and now, smart energy storage. The move to take these energy efficiency measures to the next level with the sonnenCommunity is a logical extension of what Mandalay Homes has been doing all along – designing and building the most intelligent, carbon neutral homes of the future, today.

“A true renewable energy future is not possible for our society, or for any society, without the deployment of distributed energy storage resources that properly manage clean energy production, storage, grid usage, and home energy demand in an intelligent way, providing energy independence and true carbon neutral living,” said Dave Everson, CEO and Founder of Mandalay Homes.

“The Mandalay sonnenCommunity concept for Jasper, as well as for other Mandalay communities like Wickenburg Ranch and Timber Sky in Flagstaff, serve to inspire leaders in homebuilding to build zero-net-energy homes with solar, energy storage and other energy efficient design concepts, creating the energy efficient home of the future.”

Neither sonnen nor Mandalay Homes sees the Jasper community as the end game for this technology. Rather, they see it as the beginning. It is merely the first glimpse into what communities all around the world will look like soon. Already today, we are seeing cities, states and nations mandating that homes be wired for solar and electric vehicle chargers, paving the way for the clean technologies of today to enter our homes, transforming our local grids along the way.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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