Austrian utility starts building 300 MWh organic flow battery project


From pv magazine Germany

Austrian energy supplier Burgerland Energie has started building a 300 MWh storage project based on the “Organic SolidFlow” technology developed by Germany-based specialist CMBlu.

The system is based on high-performance organic energy storage molecules. The material used is lignin, which can be sourced as a by-product from pulp mills. It is filled into two separate tanks and combined for a biochemical reaction in a special unit.

The material is organic, non-flammable, non-explosive, and can live through more than 10,000 charging cycles. The flow battery system has a multi-cell stack design and is only really suitable for stationary storage applications, but it is easily scalable to the gigawatt level.

The project is located in Schattendorf, Burgenland, eastern Austria, and is connected to a hybrid photovoltaic wind power plant. With the construction of the storage facility, the technology will be used in the field for the first time.

“One could have made it easy for oneself and rely on lithium-ion storage,” said Burgerland Governor Hans Peter Doskozil. “But that would not have fitted in with our attitude that we want to generate energy from natural and fair resources. Storage solutions, where we accept the exploitation of mines and other continents, are not the social image that we will accept in the course of an energy transition. That's why we chose a research collaboration with CMBlu to achieve and build a European model.”

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Stephan Sharma, CEO of Burgenland Energie, said the goal is to supply electricity from wind and sun around the clock. He also warned that there is always the danger of under and over-coverage with a lot of photovoltaics and wind power on the grid.

“To compensate for this for an energy-independent system, we need a storage volume of around 300 MWh by 2030,” he added.

The storage system is tested directly at the hybrid power plant. Burgenland Energie completed the 15 MW photovoltaic system at the beginning of the year. The “Organic-SolidFlow” battery connected to the solar park is initially located as a “battery lab” in a 40-foot, air-conditioned and location-independent container. The other batteries will then be installed at different locations.

CMBlu was among the winners of the 2018 pv magazine Annual Award for its organic flow battery tech.

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