MunichChristoph Ostermann can still remember: in 2011 he was with his start-up Sonnen for the first time at the trade fair Intersolar, the largest industry meeting of the European solar industry. At that time, he was laughed at when he introduced his home solar energy store. Today, the Allgäu company is a global leader in the rapidly growing niche market.
In recent years, much has been done in terms of solar battery. Thus, the costs have fallen by 61 percent within six years. What was once dismissed as expensive bauble is about to enter the mass market. In 2018, the home storage market made a turnover of 1.3 billion euros.
A total of 160,000 battery systems were sold – a new record. In 2019, the industry expects growth rates of up to 35 percent. According to a new study, the market research company EupD Research expects the market to grow sixfold by 2030 to just under eight million installed stores.
It is no wonder that Christoph Ostermann has now gotten competition. Where previously the smaller medium-sized companies such as Sonnen, E3 / DC and Senec ruled, the global players are now mixing the field. The Korean battery company LG Chem and the US pioneers around Tesla have been around for a while, while others such as Siemens, Catl or BYD are just getting started.
For example, Munich-based industrial giant Siemens launched its self-developed Junelight solar storage system in March. Siemens says it sees great potential in the still manageable segment.
Also the heavyweight Catl from China has announced its entry into the international home storage market, fitting for the start of this year's Intersolar. The billion-dollar corporation is already the market leader in its homeland, and even the world's number one battery cell builder.
"We are watching this very closely", Sonnen-Chef Ostermann admits and one takes the competition very seriously. "But in the past a few big names have come in and out of the solar storage market," says Ostermann.
Market is growing, but not as strong as expected
The Stuttgart-based carmaker Daimler has been trying for two years in the small niche market, only to then retire without singing and soundless. The same was true of the machine manufacturer Bosch. Because the market for solar storage is indeed one with strong growth, but especially high volumes can not be sold here. With just 45,000 units, Germany is the world's leading home storage market.
"Yes, the market is growing. But not as fast as we expected, "says Detlef Neuhaus, head of the solar company Solarwatt from Dresden. This is of course also because of the fact that a PV system on the roof is now economically, if you buy a battery, but the whole thing is already less economical.
The Consumer Center North Rhine-Westphalia came to the conclusion. It calculated that households with a ten-kilowatt solar system without a battery can achieve safe returns of between 2.8 and 4.7 percent. While the profitability of homeowners with storage in the basement, because of the high cost in almost all examined scenarios deteriorates, even if you usually make no loss.
"But I'm convinced that exactly here 2023 to 2025 will be a turning point," Neuhaus believes. However, how quickly a storage tank is economical depends not only on the production costs. Here – as all industry experts agree – is still great potential down.
However, profitability also depends on the development of electricity prices. The more expensive the electricity, the more likely it is to have a battery, because it means that households have to draw less energy from their supplier.
"But let's face it," says Sonnen-Chef Ostermann. The business with the sale of solar energy storage is still a niche market today. The Turning Point, so the entry into the mass market, but you could now almost touch it.