Shell acquires 100 percent stake in energy storage provider sonnen

Sonnen battery

Shell has agreed to acquire 100 percent of sonnen, a leader in smart energy storage systems and innovative energy services for households. This follows an investment by Shell in May 2018 and means that, post regulatory approval and completion, sonnen will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell.

Shell established its New Energies division in 2016. Shell New Energies focuses on two main areas: new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen; and power, being involved at almost every stage of the process, from generating electricity, to buying and selling it, to supplying it directly to customers. Shell aims to make electricity a significant part of its business.

“Full ownership of sonnen will allow us to offer more choice to customers seeking reliable, affordable and cleaner energy,” Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice President New Energies at Shell, said. “Together, we can accelerate the building of a customer-focused energy system in support of Shell’s strategy to offer more and cleaner energy solutions to customers.”

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sonnen offers smart energy storage to customers and offers digital energy services via its sonnenCommunity platform. For example, the sonnenBatterie optimizes the use of solar power in a household and supplies energy at night using stored solar power generated in daytime. sonnen has been a pioneer in the energy market by combining its technology with new business models for a decentralized energy system. Recently, sonnen put Germany’s biggest virtual battery into operation. It is based on a network of home electricity storage systems across the country to help balance power supply and demand on the power grid.

Christoph Ostermann, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of sonnen, said: “Shell New Energies is the perfect partner for helping us grow in a market that is expanding rapidly. With this investment we’re excited to help more households to become energy independent and benefit from new opportunities in the energy market. Shell will help drive the growth of sonnen to a new level and help speed up the transformation of the energy system.”

The agreement will accelerate the ability of the two companies to offer innovative integrated energy services and electric vehicle charging solutions, and the provision of grid services that are based on sonnen’s virtual battery pool.

Shell’s New Energies business is seeking to leverage the company’s strengths in fast-growing and commercial parts of the energy industry and could spend on average between $1-2 billion a year until 2020 on commercial opportunities. For more information, go to

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar carport at Massachusetts Comcast call center enough to offset 95 percent of consumption

Nexamp carports

Kim Willingham, Senior Manager of Safety for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region plugs in an electric vehicle (EV) for charging at the newly completed solar carport installation in Plymouth, MA.

Comcast completed a 1,170-panel carport solar installation that will help power its regional call center at 35 Resnik Road in Plymouth, Mass.. The system will generate enough onsite clean energy – as much as 600,000 kilowatt hours of power annually, or the equivalent of 60 homes’ worth of electricity – to offset more than 95% of the facility’s annual energy consumption.

Comcast worked with Sunpower to install the parking lot-based solar array, also enabling the installation of two dual-port EV charging stations beneath the solar panel canopy, with the ability to charge four vehicles simultaneously. The system provides the added benefit of providing covered parking spots for employees during inclement and hot weather conditions. Local residents are also welcomed to use available EV car charging stations as well.

Leading up to the solar system installation, Comcast converted its Plymouth facility to LED lighting, as it has done at numerous New England sites. This holistic approach to energy management delivered increased efficiency and eliminated more than 200,000 kilowatt hours of power usage annually at Plymouth.

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“Technology, innovation and talent are at the core of everything Comcast does, and generating clean energy on site at our Plymouth facility demonstrates our commitment to a culture of sustainability to promote a cleaner, healthier environment,” said Tracy Pitcher, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region, which serves customers throughout eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

The Plymouth solar project is the latest in an ongoing series of sustainability efforts implemented in Comcast’s New England footprint. Just a few examples include upgrading to high-efficiency equipment and cooling systems in data centers and installation of LED lights and fixtures at dozens of its largest offices and call centers including Manchester and Hudson locations in New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts facilities in Chelmsford, Malden, and Plymouth. Also, five EV charging station sites have been installed across the area with more planned for 2019, and the company is expanding its use of single-stream recycling and kitchen waste com-posting.

“Our sustainability efforts also touch the products and experiences we offer our customers,” added Pitcher. “We have made it a priority to provide the most innovative ser-vices in the home and extend energy efficiency options as an added benefit.”
For example, the company’s X1 platform enables customers to say “Go Green” into their voice remotes, leading them to a settings menu that launches a power-saving mode to power down the TV box when not in use. This helps customers reduce their energy consumption and saves money on their utility bills.

— Solar Builder magazine

This nearly 100-MW California solar PPA enabled by energy service provider Direct Energy Business


Sunpin Solar, a California-based solar developer, and Direct Energy Business, part of Direct Energy, one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers, and a subsidiary of Centrica PLC, announced a renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA) for the full output of the recently completed ColGreen North Shore Power Plant. The renewable energy PPA covers the full 96.75 MW DC / 74.8 MW AC capacity of the solar project and will serve Direct Energy Business’ retail energy customers in California. This agreement is one of the first instances an energy service provider (ESP) has enabled a project of this size in California.

“California is a very competitive market for utility-scale solar developers, and I am proud of the Sunpin Solar team for the successful implementation of this new innovative Structured PPA with Direct Energy Business. This agreement sets the stage for our plans to build at least another 200 MW of solar in California,” said Tom Li, President of Sunpin Solar.

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Situated on 485 acres of land in the city of Mecca, CA, near the Salton Sea, the project has been operational since January 2019. The ColGreen North Shore Solar Power Plant is interconnected to the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Utility grid and has delivery capability into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) territory. The single-axis tracking system has an expected annual production of over 210,000 MWh, which would be enough solar energy to power 22,300 homes per year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

“Energy Service Providers like Direct Energy Business can enable investments in renewables to help California reach its energy policy goals,” said David Brast, Senior Vice President, North America Power and Gas, Direct Energy Business. “As California continues to evolve into a competitive energy market, we will work with suppliers like Sunpin Solar to deliver more energy choices for our Direct Access (DA) and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) customers. This renewable energy PPA with Sunpin Solar is an important milestone in this journey and aligns with Centrica’s commitment to provide products and services that lead to a lower carbon future.”

The ColGreen North Shore Solar Power Plant displaces the CO2 equivalent of over 100,000 acres of trees and will offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of over 32,000 vehicles driven each year, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green-house Gas Equivalencies Calculator. The project created 425 local jobs at the peak of construction in an area classified as disproportionately burdened by pollution and with population characteristics more sensitive to pollution by the CalEPA. The completion of the project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 15th.

— Solar Builder magazine

Carolina Panthers football stadium to add solar panels via POWERHOME Solar

Powerhome solar

POWERHOME Solar will begin installing solar panels on Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, within the next few weeks. These new panels will help reduce energy costs as well as the stadium’s carbon footprint. In 2018, the NFL joined the Green Sports Alliance to support sustainability efforts across the entire league.

“Bank of America Stadium has created several sustainability goals, including using renewable energy,” said Scott Paul, vice president of stadium operations, Bank of America Stadium. “POWERHOME Solar’s use of American-made solar panels and its local roots made it the ideal partner to help ‘green’ the stadium.”

POWERHOME Solar, headquartered in Mooresville, NC, is one of the fastest growing American companies to specialize in solar energy and roofing services, and will help the Panthers maximize energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and minimize their carbon footprint.

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“Bank of America Stadium is the third NFL facility to utilize POWERHOME Solar to help meet sustainability goals,” said Jayson Waller, founder and CEO of POWERHOME Solar. “Large commercial sites like this help us educate consumers about the simplicity and benefits of renewable energy. We hope to encourage thousands of fans to consider renewable energy and think more about the environment.”

POWERHOME Solar operates in six states, and is working with NFL franchises, professional football players, and other athletes to build stronger, healthier communities across the U.S.

— Solar Builder magazine

Ten more solar installers added to Premium ranks of Panasonic Residential Solar Installer Program


Panasonic Solar Group announced its cross-country expansion of the Panasonic Residential Solar Installer program with the addition of 10 Premium installers located across Panasonic’s three main regions. Over the past six months, Panasonic has promoted more than 16 installers across the country to premium status, enabling more homeowners access to the Panasonic Solar Modules HIT portfolio.

Launched in the U.S. in 2016, the Panasonic Solar Premium Installer program provides value-added benefits and business opportunities to partners who meet Panasonic’s high standard of excellence. The program has seen impressive growth in the last two years, now with 36 Premium installers and more than 150 Authorized Installers.

Companies joining the Premium Installer program in Panasonic’s Western Territory include:

  • Alternate Energy Inc.: Honolulu, HI
  • Solar Optimum: Glendale, CA
  • Sol-Up USA: Las Vegas, NV
  • Sunbright Solar LLC: Tucson, AZ

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“The Western region has been a catalyst for the solar industry in the United States, supportive renewable energy policies and consumer popularity continue to drive further growth in the region,” said David Lopez, Group Sales Manager Solar & Storage, Western Territory, Panasonic USA. “Expanding our Premium Installer partners in the West allows homeowners increased access to Panasonic’s industry-leading technology and warranty.”

Panasonic’s Central Territory will also see an expansion with six new Premium Installers joining the network:

  • Advance Solar & Energy: Fort Myers, FL
  • Energy Consultants Group: Anamosa, IA
  • Good Faith Energy: Houston, TX
  • Whole Sun Design: Bloomington, IN
  • Kapital Electric Company: Bensenville, IL
  • South Texas Solar Systems: San Antonio, TX

“Demand for solar energy is rapidly increasing among homeowners in FL, TX and in the Midwest,” said Jack O’Donohue, Sales and Business Development Manager, Panasonic USA. “The addition of new Premium Installers for the Central Region recognizes these installers’ success in offering Panasonic Solar and Storage solutions to meet the demands of homeowners who value quality, efficiency, and long-term commitment to performance as covered by Panasonic’s Triple Guard 25-year warranty.”

More on the Panasonic Solar Installer program

The Panasonic Solar Installer program is comprised of “Authorized” and “Premium” Installers, and Premium installers are involved in continuous efforts with Panasonic to promote the HIT brand. These installers receive leads generated from Panasonic’s website as well as from the new educational blog “Green Living”.

In addition, Premium Installers are the beneficiaries of cooperative marketing funds provided by Panasonic and are also provided access to Panasonic’s robust Installer Portal that offers additional benefits such as a library of tailored marketing materials and training programs designed to help installers enhance communication with consumers, and ultimately grow their businesses.

“Installers want the best products and tools to give their customers exactly what they need,” said Yessica Castillo, National Marketing Manager at Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. “That’s why we’re working with installers who align with Panasonic’s customer-first values and commitment to taking solar to the next level, one installation at a time.”

— Solar Builder magazine