Over the last decade, Sunverge has become a preferred provider of home solar-battery systems to utilities. It rivals Tesla in scope and scale of its deployments, if not in its marketing hype.
But just like Tesla, the startup has seen its share of struggles, albeit of a different scope.
While Tesla is seeking mass-market acceptance for its Powerwalls (and achieving decidedly mixed results in terms of keeping production on track with its sales) Sunverge has shifted from making its own battery units to providing software to utilities, in hopes of finding a niche as a trusted virtual power plant (VPP) platform provider.
On Tuesday, the company announced three more utility customers, including two with some advanced interest in solving the solar-storage grid challenge.
The first, Arizona Public Service, plans a neighborhood-scale installation of Sunverge One battery-inverter units, along with home energy controllers, to help balance the rising neighborhood-level swells and sags in customer-generated solar power throughout the day.
This pilot is the latest in the utility’s long-running study ofstorage power electronics and communications to manage its rising tide of customer-generated solar power. The first round, a joint effort with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), has been testing megawatt-scale grid batteries, as well as more than 1,600 advanced inverters. This next phase, known as the Solar Innovation Study, involves distributed energy resources at the residential scale, including rooftop solar, load controllers, HVAC systems and battery storage.
The Sunverge One, the company’s basic 6.4-kilowatt, 11.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and inverter unit, has a decidedly low-key feel, suggesting more of an outdoor air conditioning unit than Tesla’s futuristic turtle-shell wall mounting. That’s partly because it’s meant to be installed outdoors, and is rated to withstand the typical utility ranges of heat, cold and rain, and partly because Sunverge seeks to involve the customers as little as possible in the unit’s overall operation, beyond informing them how much it’s earned them over the course of time.
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