This New Community In Arizona Will Feature Battery Packs In Nearly 3,000 Homes

<p>German energy startup Sonnen and home construction company Mandalay Homes will be adding solar panels and battery packs to new homes in Northern Arizona. They'll end up creating a 11.6-megawatt virtual power plant that focuses on local energy generation.</p>


May 23 2019, Updated 10:49 a.m. ET

A German-based energy startup will be putting solar generation systems all over Prescott Valley’s new homes in Arizona. Sonnen is the battery manufacturer that will work with Mandalay Homes, a local construction company that will be installing nearly 3,000 battery packs in the community. Essentially, this will create a virtual power plant that has a capacity of 23 megawatt-hours.

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Sonnen and Mandalay Homes will be providing battery packs that feature eight kilowatts of power and 16 kilowatt-hours of capacity in each of these homes. They’ll be connected to rooftop solar panels and will provide storage for use at night or when solar generation isn’t efficient enough. Mandalay CEO Dave Everson told Greentech Media that “homeowners will pay 40 to 60 percent less to operate their homes.”

Labeled as “Discovery Homes,” these buildings will still be connected to the grid when there isn’t enough power being received nor stored. Batteries will be charged during peak daylight hours, meaning many people will be able to enjoy electricity from storage without even realizing it. Late at night, the battery will also receive power from a local nuclear plant that is cheap and needs to run anyway.

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Both companies hope the new Discovery Homes in Prescott Valley serve as the blueprint for future carbon neutral homes. Not only will they be powered with solar panels, but they’ll be more efficient in using energy with lower heating and cooling needs. The community will also be connected together so it can share most of its energy instead of it all being pulled from a central power source.

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"A true renewable energy future is not possible for our society, or for any society, without the deployment of distributed energy storage resources that properly manage clean energy production, storage, grid usage, and home energy demand in an intelligent way, providing energy independence and true carbon neutral living," Everson said in a press release.

Another goal the companies have is to reduce the use of an old coal-fired plant in Northern Arizona, which is needed during peak hours. The plan is to completely take it off the network over the next three years. At the moment, it helps power thousands of homes in the area.

Sonnen began in 2015 under Philipp Schroeder, who was the top executive at Tesla in Germany. A number of workers also left Tesla to join Schroeder on his new venture. This new project would leapfrog Tesla’s Powerwall installation numbers in the United States. At the moment, Tesla has double the amount of home battery packs installed (2,000) than Sonnen does.

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