Energy Storage Europe grows 60 percent in 2016

The application of cost-effective energy storage has long been seen as one of the major hurdles to be overcome if non-hydro renewable generation share globally is to increase past levels of approximately 30%. The Energy Storage Europe trade show and conference attempted to tackle this problem this week in Düsseldorf and delivered a call to policy makers to clear the way for storage deployment.

The "Düsseldorf Statement" was adopted by industry stakeholders at the event. It calls for: "a clear, regulatory framework for the market launch of storage solutions. An important flexibility option is that storage must be able to operate on the market equally on both the network and generation side with other flexibility options."

The statement argues that storage solutions can provide a range of services for consumers and for the grid, which needs to be reflected in policy. It also calls for barriers between: "power, heat, gas and fuel markets" to be cleared.

A number of new technologies were showcased at the event, with organizers highlighting H-TEC Systems’ Power2Gas PEM electrolysis stack, which could reduce the cost of hydrogen production from renewable electricity sources. MBS Naturstromspeicher’s natural heat accumulators, which are designed to look like pools, fountains and natural ponds, can store and discharge ambient heat from the ponds and pools to nearby buildings.

Case for residential storage

The residential battery storage market was a particular feature of this year’s Energy Storage Europe event – with the industry segment having displayed impressive deployment growth and cost reductions in recent years.

Early-stage and startup companies are involved in pioneering storage deployment, but they are increasingly being joined by industrial giants. Siemens, ABB, and Deutsche Accumotive, a Daimler subsidiary, attended the event.

However, while there is a high level of interest and activity in the residential storage space, debates as to whether the case for German households deploying storage, coupled to a PV array, financially stacks up is still yet to be made – in the opinion of some attendees and presenters. While some 20,000 battery storage systems have been deployed in Germany to date, some presenters argued that economic case for storing solar electricity to maximize self consumption still today has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.

German battery supplier E3/DC’s CEO Andreas Piepenbrink, in particular, made the argument that the investment in residential storage systems will not result in a significant windfall for consumers in Germany today. Underpinning this argument is the often over reported roundtrip efficiency of battery and power conversion units. While battery storage suppliers frequently advertise systems with efficiencies of over 90%, in real-world use the best efficiency is up around 70%, said Piepenbrink in a compelling presentation. Seldomly are battery systems, and inverters, operated under optimal conditions and, therefore, efficiency achieved remains low.

Despite this, it appears there is a considerable appetite for battery storage among German homeowners. Researchers from RHTH Aachen University presented recent survey results in which it was demonstrated that the desire to optimize the self consumption of solar electricity produced on site goes beyond economic or even environmental outcomes. The researchers conclude that given this, policymakers should incorporate the "social effects" of storage deployment when developing "the political design of the energy transition." The rise of the prosumer may be independent of economics, for now at least and needs to be reflected in policy.

Urban Windelen, Managing Director of the German Energy Storage Association, echoed these findings, saying that German policy is lagging behind consumer deployment of storage technologies.

“Energy storage technologies have reached market maturity; this year’s Energy Storage Europe impressively proves that again," said Windelen. "In Germany, it is just the framework conditions that are lagging behind and preventing the sensible launch of storage conducive to the network.”

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