Germany’s VARTA enters Australia battery market, with eye on aggregation

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One Step Off The Grid

German battery storage maker VARTA has become the latest company to enter Australia’s burgeoning battery storage market, attracted by the huge penetration of rooftop solar and the growing shift towards “aggregated” storage.

The Bavarian based VARTA claims to have a market share of 10-12 per cent in its principal markets – Germany, Austria and Switzerland – and aims for a 20 per cent share. And it is targeting similar market share in Australia, its first venture outside Europe.

“There are not many places that present such an attractive opportunity, we would be stupid not to go after it” Clements says in an interview ahead of the company’s formal launch in Melb0urne next week.

“The flip side of that (attraction) is that it is a very competitive market. There seems to be a lot of noise, but not a lot of clarity. The message that goes to end customer is not as clear as ought to be. That something that would like to see improve as time goes by.”

VARTA will sell two models in its “Pulse” range, a 3.3kWh system and a 6.5kWh system. Pricing for installers is yet to be revealed (it may be in next week’s official launch), but VARTA considers itself to be at the quality end of the market.

Clements says the key benefits are its quality, that it is a fully integrated system, and is compact.

 Australia’s battery storage market is getting a boost from record levels of rooftop solar installations, a push by households to install as much capacity as they can, and incentives such as those in South Australia to connect as many as 50,000 low income homes.

There is also a big push towards “aggregation”, or linking battery storage installations through software and creating “virtual power plants”, where households can share output and capacity and storage can be pooled to play in wholesale markets and network support.

Clements cited the push by AGL into a virtual power plant in South Australia, as well as the role of Australian software providers such as Reposit Power, which is involved in several schemes that seek to unlock the value of household battery storage.

“That is one of the things we see in Australia that we don’t see elsewhere is aggregation.  We see that as long term future of energy storage and Australia has a lead in that market.”

Clements says VARTA’s Pulse range is easy to install – within half an hour once the cabling is done – and that should lower installation costs. It comes as a “plug and play” unit including inverter but does not provide back-up should the grid go down.

It may introduce that capability at it looks to new products for the US market, where home energy demand is bigger and grid outages often longer. Manufacture is done in Germany, although it could shift to a plant it owns in Indonesia if the market responds as hoped.

VARTA is located in the Bavarian town of Nördlingen, and says it has been in the battery business for more than 100 years. It entered the energy storage market in 2011 and in 2016 made its first expansion move into Italy in the second half of 2017.

“We’ve had some real success there, particularly in Q4 …. and the model in Italy is what we want to do in Australia,” Clements says.

“In Italy, we set up a training organization where we can train installers, and we signed up a partner responsible for wholesaling. That is the model we will use in Australia.”

“We come to this market as a battery supplier, not a software company or an energy provider, or a PV provider.

“We don’t want to be an energy provider. We will work with energy providers in providing a solution to the market. We want to work with the big energy providers, not try and knock them out.”

Manufacture is done in Germany, although it could shift to a plant it owns in Indonesia if the market responds as hoped.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.


  • Brunel

    Varta makes lead acid batteries for cars. Is this a lithium battery?

    • Stephen Norris

      The data sheet says it’s Lithium (and friends). It seems pretty small capacity, but I guess they would be ganged together.

      The biggest problem I see is that the operating temperature range (+5ºC-+30ºC) is not going to cut it in outside in any major city in Australia, or even inside in many – how many people air-condition their empty houses

      • john

        Yes I agree the ambient temperature for most of Australia during summer is over 30c.; and ditto the 6.5 at 90% DOD results in just under 6 KWh looks like a minimum of 2 would be required.

      • Brunel

        30℃ is quite bad. This must be a scam.

        • Joe

          …30 degrees….It must be an error ?

        • vielepunkte

          I guess that’s what their warranty test cycle was for their European market. They have to improve and validate higher temperatures for Australia. But maybe it has internal cooling.

      • heinbloed

        Well spotted.

        ” Country licences Germany, Austria, Switzerland”


        Apparently there is no country license (“Laenderzulassung”) for the Pulse in Australia.

      • solarguy

        It sounds like a crap battery on those accounts.

    • john

      Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide.
      In the chemistry list of the table.
      Warranty 10 years or 10000 cycle.

    • solarguy

      Read the article and you question will be answered!

      • Brunel

        The article makes no mention of lithium. But the table does.

        • solarguy

          Isn’t that part of the article?

  • Joe

    Zee Germans are coming…first the Sonnen and now the Varta

  • Thanks Giles- one we’ll add into the Battery Finder widget here:

    (which is now also feeding into the CER’s data submission system for installers noting what’s installed in conjunction with a home owner’s PV).

  • PacoBella

    Why does the LNP pretend it needs to lower the company tax rate in order to stay competitive when a large German company clearly bases its decision to locate in Australia on commercial, market-related considerations. Perhaps they have been advised that, as evidenced by others like Ikea, the big tech companies, the big miners, big Pharma etc, paying company tax in Australia is optional.

    • My_Oath

      How are they ‘locating in Australia’?

      They aren’t manufacturing here. If it ‘goes well’ they will consider manufacting in Indonesia.

      They aren’t even wholesaling here. They are going to be looking for a wholesale partner.

      All they are going to do is ‘provide training’ and a lot of that can be done online these days, and they are going to put the batteries on a boat in Germany to send to the Australian wholesale partner.

      Note also that they are aiming for the ‘quality’ end of the market – aka a premium price point. This means high cost low volume. They know they aren’t going to be moving many units, so they won’t be ‘locating’ in Australia.

  • Phil

    That ambient temp of -5 to +30C would severely restrict installation locations.

    Datasheet here