Behind The Scenes At sonnen’s Wildspoldried, Germany Battery Testing Lab

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sonnen has built the most advanced residential energy storage solution in the world in its ecoLinx home energy storage solution and its thermally stable lithium iron phosphate-based batteries. In a new video and article, CE Pro went behind the scenes at the lab in Wildspoldried, Germany where the ninth generation of sonnen’s lithium iron phosphate-based batteries are assembled and tested.

The sonnen ecoLinx in its native environment. Image credit: sonnen

At its factory, sonnen is able to churn out 1,000 of its energy storage units per week. That represents a 10-fold increase from just 5 years ago and illustrates just how fast the industry is growing. Bloomberg NEF expects energy storage to follow an exponential growth curve, even from 2018 levels. The bullish forecast expects energy storage to grow from “9GW/17GWh deployed as of 2018 to 1,095GW/2,850GWh by 2040.”

sonnen’s early growth and rapid innovation only continues to fuel this growth as potential residential customers begin to understand the value of not just energy storage, but intelligent energy storage in the home. The 122-fold increase in energy storage over a little more than two decades that Bloomberg NEF might just be the headline calling attention to the broader trend, but sonnen’s growth, Tesla’s 2 terawatt-hour forecast, CATL expanding its production base, and the exciting growth we have seen in battery production capacity in recent months all serve to illustrate the same point. Batteries get to play double duty in both stationary energy storage and electric vehicles, allowing for even more scale to drive the cost down even further, faster.

2kWh MuRata lithium iron phosphate battery modules live inside each sonnen unit. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

sonnen’s units require 4 hours each to assemble from one of the company’s 300 employees around the world, after which they are put on the charger for 2 hours. Fun fact: each sonnen battery unit is assigned a birthdate on the date it is first charged. When done charging, the units are put through 30 minutes of testing for battery life, energy output, heat generation, and more. They even drive a nail through some of the batteries, though this is obviously not something they do on units destined for the homes of customers.

sonnen has developed two residential energy storage systems: the ecoLinx for US customers and the eco for international customers. The ecoLinx units include individual 2 kWh battery modules that can be added inside the unit for a total capacity of 20 kWh. An integrated inverter optimizes the flow of AC power out of the battery packs and DC power back into the battery and improves the efficiency of the overall system. Some residential energy storage systems do not include an inverter and not only lose this efficiency, but also require an external inverter to be purchase, installed, and integrated.

Both the eco and the ecoLinx products use lithium iron phosphate cells as the base building block. sonnen chose this chemistry specifically for a number of reasons. First off, it has a much longer expected life than most of today’s lithium-ion-based products, resulting in a 15-year, 15,000 cycle warranty. Competing lithium-ion based products typically come with warranties of 8 or 10 years, so the difference is worth noting.

The sonnen ecoLinx integrates with a number of home automation solutions including Eaton’s smart breakers. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Lithium iron phosphate batteries also generate no heat, meaning the system does not need a cooling system to keep it in a safe operating range. They are not prone to thermal runaway, a phenomenon which can result in batteries catching on fire due to heat buildup or when the battery’s physical integrity is compromised. These factors make sonnen’s batteries some of the safest, longest-lasting batteries on the market. They also don’t require any toxic cobalt to produce.

On the flip side, lithium iron phosphate batteries do require a slightly larger footprint as they are not as energy dense, but that feels like a small price to pay for the significant array of benefits they bring to the table. Depending on the manufacturer, lithium iron phosphate batteries can be more costly than their higher production volume lithium-ion cousins.

Source: CE Pro

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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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