Construction of world's first modular large-scale storage system begins

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German utility E.ON has announced today that construction has begun on a new modular storage system offering a high level of modularity that makes it ideal for the storing of renewable energy capacity.

The M5BAT is a modular, multimegawatt (5 MW), multitechnology medium voltage battery storage system that is being constructed on the premises of RWTH Aachen University, Germany. The M5BAT combines different battery technologies to deliver a significant upgrade in system stability and modularity, claims E.ON, who have partnered with SMA, Exide Technologies, GNB Industrial Power and the German Ministry for Economic Affairs – which has granted the project €6.7 million ($7.5 million) – on the battery’s creation.

A former office building at the university is being converted to house the system, which will cover two floors and 500 square meters in total. E.ON is carrying out the building conversion, with the E.On Energy Research Center overseeing the coordination of the assembly of the batteries. SMA and Exide are supplying the technical components, and all parties are working towards a completion date of mid-2016.

"As part of its innovation activities, E.ON is investing in a broad spectrum of future technologies for energy storage," said E.ON CMO Bernhard Reutersberg. "Large battery storage systems are particularly interesting thanks to their flexible possibilities for use. The findings expected from M5BAT are of value for the entire energy industry, particularly as a means of support on the path towards low-CO2 power generation."

The M5BAT will comprise lithium-ion batteries to meet short-term power demand, lead-acid batteries that will respond to discharge times of one hour or less, and high-temperature batteries that can supply power for several hours.

Last year, when the collaboration was first announced, SMA senior VP for hybrid and storage, Volker Wachenfeld, said: "To achieve 100% renewable power supply, adding large-scale storage systems to the utility grid is of vital importance. These systems back up the power from renewable sources and help stabilize utility grids. This research project will provide us with important data on how large-scale battery inverters can be used in the utility grid in the future."

The overall aim, SMA confirmed, is to develop a modular and scalable batter that can supply all critical grid management services at utility grid scale.