Storage system manufacturers Sonnen and Leclanché are in early talks to help deliver an “unprecedented” scheme with North Star Solar which will see its batteries rolled out as part of a potentially huge project.

It was revealed yesterday that Stanley Town Council in County Durham has committed to a large scale scheme which could see a package of solar panels, battery storage units and LED lighting delivered to up to 22,000 homes. Community meetings are underway to see which of the town’s 35,000 residents want to take up to offer, which will be carried out at no upfront cost to households.

North Star’s regular supplier Leclanché has supplied a series of solutions to North Star for testing as part of the selection process, which could see the Swiss firm taking part in one of its biggest residential schemes to date.

Jacques Boppe, vice-president of business development at Leclanché, told Solar Power Portal this morning: “It’s a great project for us so it’s great to be on this final phase. We know we’re talking about around 20,000 homes, maybe 6,000 to 10,000 homes for Leclanche and this is the scale of projects that we are already involved in in Switzerland and Germany so we’re very happy to share our expertise with this UK partner.”

Boppe believes that the company’s TiBox system is the most likely candidate for the project as it offers up a lifetime performance warranty of up to ten years with an expected a lifetime expectation of 20 years. The 3.2kWh battery can use up to 80% of its capacity over the 20,000 cycles of its lifetime , which Boppe calls a “game-changer” for the residential battery storage market.

“As a home developer, you need equipment that can last the lifetime of the house which is one a 20-year timeframe so the clear positioning of Leclanche is to deliver solutions that are bankable in a sense that are financeable over 15-20 years,” he said.

The scheme also marks the beginning of a new partnership with German manufacturer Sonnen, which could see a significant increase in the company’s global deployment.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal this morning, UK country director Martin Allman said: “The size of this scheme is fairly unprecedented really as far as residential energy storage schemes go. Sonnen is a market leader for residential energy storage and it’s installed about 11,000 systems globally and most of those are in Germany.

“This kind of scheme blows that out of the water in some respects in terms of the volumes we’re talking about. So to put it in to context, having a large volume scheme like this is really exciting.”

The sonnenBatterie which could be used on the scheme is a modular solution that can be scaled up in 2kWh increments depending on the needs of the home, allowing the capacity to increase to suit the application. According to Allman, this makes it well-suited to the kind of homes in Stanley to be fitted with systems.

“We’ve got a solution that’s very well suited to social housing. Our system is modular so it’s a small compact system physically. In terms of the battery capacity you can have 2kWh of battery storage that you can scale right up to 16kWh so practically it’s a good system,” he said.

“And because you’ve got a high number of cycles, its good not just in terms of self-consumption but also being able to tap into off-peak as well which is a good proposition to offer to those people who are fuel poor or struggling to pay their bills.”

With a ten year warranty covering 10,000 charge cycles, Allman claimed that the residents who opt in to the scheme will be able to benefit In addition to the self-consumption households will be able benefit from as a result of the solar PV and storage solutions, Allman added that that shift to off peak price periods will have a positive effect for the community.

The scheme has been designed to address the levels of fuel poverty in the area, with several outlying villages within the parish suffering from high energy bills. As well as the potential for large scale deployment, Allman added that Sonnen was attracted to the project for its social value.

“Of course it’s a commercial proposition but as a company we come from the stance of having decentralised energy available for everyone, that’s what we’re about,” he explained.

“The schemes that we’ve done before or that we’ve got going and are all about that movement to make energy available to everyone, not just those that can afford to buy solar panels or batteries.

“It’s a great scheme, really innovative and the clever financing solution that they’ve got opens this up for everyone to benefit from.”

The project remains in its early stages, with the number of homes to be fitted with new systems yet to be determined. However, both Leclanché and Sonnen are seeking to continue to break into the UK residential storage with large scale projects like those being planned by North Star Solar, which is currently in talks with up to six other local authorities for similar projects.

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