Envision takes stake in Sonnen in $85m financing round

Chinese wind turbine maker and energy firm Envision has taken a minority stake in expanding German solar storage specialist and Tesla-rival Sonnen in the wake of an $85m financing round.

Envision as well as renewables investor Thomas Pütter, a former chairman of Allianz Capital Partners, in the financing round have become Sonnen stake holders, joining existing investors that include GE Ventures, eCapital, MVP, Set Ventures and Inven Capital.

Sonnen plans to use the proceeds to deepen its expansion in the US, Australia, the UK and Italy, and the development of new products such as its energy sharing platform SonnenCommunity.

Envision’s entry into Sonnen’s stake holdings comes as its rival in solar storage, Tesla, announced a far-reaching cooperation with Japan’s Panasonic that is contingent to Tesla’s $2.6bn acquisition of SolarCity going ahead.

"The future of energy is clean, decentralized and digital. With its SonnenCommunity platform and smart SonnenBatterie technology, Sonnen already demonstrates how our energy infrastructure will look tomorrow,” says Lei Zhang, chief executive of Envision Energy.

“We were very impressed by their proven capabilities, their rapid growth and the high level of continuing innovation in the energy space. We want to support Sonnen’s vision of the future of energy and make this future a reality together.”

Sonnen chief executive Christoph Ostermann said his company wants to become the energy supplier of the future, and regards Envision as a “strategic investor.”

Asked by Recharge, Sonnen didn’t reveal the exact size of Envision’s minority stake in it, but a press official stressed that the Chinese company complements Sonnen technologically, for example in the the area of software to link decentralised energy producers and consumers.

Prices for solar storage are falling rapidly, and Sonnen claims that participants of its SonnenCommunity energy sharing platform can receive electricity from others in the platform for around €0.23 (€0.25) per kilowatt hour, a price well below current German power prices for most consumers.

Sonnen produces solar storage systems in Germany and the US.