REFILE-German solar battery company Sonnen expands in Italian market

(Makes clear Sonnen already active in Italy)

FRANKFURT, Oct 23 (Reuters) - German solar battery company Sonnen plans to deliver 20,000 home electricity storage systems in Italy over the next 24 months after an 80 million euro ($94 million) deal with a newly formed group of regional installers, it said on Monday.

The number does not look big in itself, but it is equivalent to nearly a third of currently installed home photovoltaic batteries in Germany, the biggest market in Europe.

“Italy has outstanding conditions to become a leading European market for energy storage and electricity sharing,” said Giorgio Mattaliano Belforti, chief executive of Energy Alliance Italia, in a statement issued by Sonnen in Germany.

“Our alliance is an important cornerstone in forming a deep strategic partnership between Italy’s leading installers and Sonnen, securing the best technology and production capacity.”

The Alliance includes companies supersolar, Smile Energy, CDNE, Rex Energy and Sky NRG among others.

The German market for solar batteries has evolved over the past three years to complement its 1.6 million solar roof panel systems, the power output of which used to be sold to public grids at generously subsidised prices.

That practice is due to be phased out, but the installation of batteries will allow households with solar panels to capture their output for self-consumption at periods without sunshine and when there is high demand.

This means they will no longer have to buy back power from utility companies and will cut their power bills and recoup the initial battery cost over time.

Venture-capital backed Sonnen is also pursuing plans to combine households in virtual power plant (VPP) communities in Germany, Austria, the United States and Australia. These allow members to share energy and explore opportunities to sell excess power to grid operators’ to iron out imbalances on networks.

Sonnen is looking to capitalise on growing consumer concern about rising energy prices and sharp falls in the cost of solar panels and batteries, making them increasingly affordable to ordinary households.

Sonnen executive Philipp Schroeder told Reuters in January that the company wants to decide by the end of this year whether to opt for a stock market listing or to launch another funding round with investors. ($1 = 0.8506 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by David Goodman)