Business solar-plus-storage-us

Published on December 28th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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Solar Power Storage Prices Drop 25% In Germany… In <1 Year

December 28th, 2014 by




Prices for German solar power storage systems have reportedly fallen 25% since the spring. The data come from the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar).

Germany solar Solar Power Storage

Also according to BSW-Solar, approximately 15,000 German households now use battery storage combined with solar power, and that number has been growing faster and faster as the costs have come down. As an example of that, KfW, Germany’s development bank, approved 32% more funding applications for home storage in the third quarter of this year than in the second. Needless to say, I think word is getting around that this is a smart move for many now that storage costs have fallen.

“This is a nice Christmas present for the Energiewende, Germany’s energy transition, and for all operators of solar power systems. Affordable solar storage systems mean that operators can now fulfill their wish for more energy independence and can count on stable electricity prices in the long term,” says Carsten Körnig, Managing Director of BSW-Solar.

“Due to technological advances and growing demand, the average prices for battery storage systems have fallen by around 25 percent between the first and the second half of 2014,” the BSW-Solar press release states.

Solar power storage isn’t only growing in Germany, though. For sure, it is growing at a nice rate in Japan and Australia. Furthermore, the US solar + storage market is projected to see strong growth in 2015 and the following years. This is partly driven by the continued drop in solar power prices, but also a quick drop in battery storage prices.

solar-plus-storage-us Solar Power Storage

Image Credit: GTM Research

SunPower and Sunverge just announced a US and Australia partnership to market solar and storage.

Read more here. And the full report, in German, is here.

Top Image: Germany solar rooftop via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Frank

    Anybody noticed what happened to flat panel displays. It all started with laptops. What’s a laptop with a tube? Anyways, it created a market for them, with companies paying engineers to figure out how to make them better and cheaper. Subsidies can do that too.

    Hydrogen can be vented. Tesla cars have fewer fires than gasmobiles. Lead acid batteries are mostly recycled. How about the long and ugly list of thing coming out of coal plants? Did you notice China is suddenly trying to clean up their air at least in big cities? Why do you think that is? we convinced them? Or sucking it into their lungs makes them sick?

    Two applications I am really interested in is batteries to keep feed the grid for 15 minutes while you fire up a gas plant, so you don’t have to produce and waste electricity “just in case”. The second is time shifting solar and wind. I am also curious whether time shifting AC load with ice is practical, like ice-energy.com proports to do.

    • Phil

      I know percentages can be deceiving and it is hard when comparing a tiny volume such as Tesla (Li-ion) to the billions of non-hybrid cars and almost a century compared to a decade. Any numbers do not reflect the fires in question in Tesla’s case. They happened when unattended while charging. To my knowledge this number is unknown in the case of all non-hybrid cars. But I believe this number would be tiny or could be none at all.
      I agree with you that the most important question/brake through will be if power companies can use batteries/capacitors/supper conductors “to keep feeding the grid for 15 minutes while you fire up a gas plant, so you don’t have to produce and waste electricity “just in case”.” But who will pay for it? Those providing undependable intermittent wind and solar power? Not likely. That is the problem facing Hawaii power Co.
      The bottom line I see this article says: Lead batteries are cheaper and in Germany more people are going with stand alone systems. Why? Could it be they do no trust Russian supplied natural gas fired power plants?

      • Frank

        Well, the the idea is that electric companies currently pay power producers that burn fossil fuels for that extra capacity(spinning reserve) to stabilize the grid, and instead they would pay for battery which isn’t burning anything, with the hope that it will be cheaper.

        • Phil

          I’m no expert on how paying for spinning reserve works. Converting DC power to AC by inverter usually has a 10% of capacity loss. Also a true wave inverter is real expensive. The cheaper way currently is DC motor/magneto connected to AC motor/generator. You are still looking at 10% to 15% of capacity loss and a loss of 5% per day average in batteries and line loss. Lead batteries charge and discharge rate is the limiting factor. Li-ion can take the drain and charge better. I have not done the math but I guess (only a ruff guess) around $3,000 per KW for lead battery and between 5 and 10 times that for Li-ion. 5 year replacement for lead. Unknown for Li-ion, but I have never had a laptop computer battery last more than 5 years.
          Do you know what the swing in spinning reserve might be? My guess would be around 500 KW for a small grid. Currently it is still cheaper to produce the extra power. Best hope supper conductor brake though.
          The smart meters were invented to reduce the need of spinning reserve, but wind and solar create the need for more.

          • Frank

            Before I start, check out ice-energy.com and tell me what you think of that concept.

            The grid behaves badly(voltage or frequency go out of spec) when supply is less than demand. No problem if there is more supply than demand. Balancing the two is tricky business. The better you can predict both supply and demand, the closer you can keep the two. Renewables spread out over a large area with good weather forcasting is pretty good. Fossil seems better till you have an ice storm it Texas and trips an entire large powerplant off line without any warning. With a wind farm, you could loose a single turbine, but the only time you would loose all of them at once is if the wire was cut, or the wind was so high they would have to shut down to save themselves, and that is both rare, and predictable.

            How quickly a power producer can ramp up and down is very important to grid operators. Batteries are incredibly fast, can add and take load, can be put anywhere on the grid, at any size. The fastest reacting fossil plants I believe are gas, and are on the order of 15 minutes for a fast one, Batteries are miliseconds I think.

            As to individuals with batteries in their basement, I would suggest to you that Hawaii will be the first place to find out. Their electricity prices are sky high, solar resources are darn good, and the utility is limiting connections. Push came to shove a couple of years ago, and prices will go down. The only question is whether the utilities, individuals or some cooperation between the two is going to make it happen. I’m guessing cooperation, and batteries.

          • Phil

            From what I understand Ice Energy’s Ice Bear system is a unit that produces a big chunk of ice on a timer, so that it can take advantage of lower off peak rates. Than uses the ice during peak times to produce air conditioning. Saving the difference in rates for the consumer. Around 10% for the consumer and reduces capacity for provider. Great idea, if unit cost can be recovered in reasonable time and you have a place for extra space and weight.
            In southern states and Hawaii this could make economic sense if recover of capital layout is good. Around 5 years brake even. Tax saving, smart grid the ability of power management to turn on ice makers all over city to use excess power in conditions where refrigerated air will be used within a day.
            I saw no conversion of ice back into power.
            As far as wind being steady. Realize 10 mph wind no power 25 mph maxed out. Above 60 mph the feathering back is max and braking is required. A squall front can go from 0 to 60 in very short time. Gust from 15 to 25 and back to10 is more common than steady wind. Although a wide spread windmill farm could balance out. Windmills make bad neighbors and the Greenpeace using the endanger species act are shutting then down. They are blowing up hydro-electric dams and tearing down windmills. They must have read ‘Man of La Mancha’ they sure are acting like him. I guess if have not had to actually live under the restriction altenitive power requires, it looks good if you do not look to close.

          • Frank

            I don’t know if you saw some of the predictions in California about all the solar PV coming on line and the resulting “duck curve”. A lot of that capacity is PV, which falls off sharply after 4:00pm. The AC load in the summer is high. So what I am suggesting is when the sun goes down, start using the ICE to cool reducing that sharp ramp.

            As to the wind turbines, I have been right next to one, and I wouldn’t mind living next to one. Articles I’ve read indicate that there was no drop in house values after turbines came in. I have read farmers love the extra income coming in from the turbines in winter. Speaking of which, did you see this?http://cleantechnica.com/2015/01/08/wind-energy-saved-customers-1-billion-in-just-two-days/ There are european countries like Germany, Spain, Denmark and they are producing lots of electricity with wind, and don’t seem to be a problem. The things that help the grid use wind are widespread turbines, well connected with big grid connections, and good weather forcasting. As to winds impact on wildlife, you can’t subject wind to different standards than fossil. Their impacts are worse. And cats, way worse. Yes, the turbine folks have to try to reduce their impact, and are, like the repowering going on at Tehachapi pass, and putting the breaks on in PA when the wind isn’t blowing hard anyway with those turbines found to be in the bat migration paths.

          • Phil

            I see your point on the ice unit. It would have a problem in that the stored cold would be greatest in the morning and used up in the late afternoon. To get the unit to cover after 4 pm drop in power would mean storing cold in or through peak electric rate. The power co. would have to be able to control your air conditioner unit. For half the year it would not be usable (no need for refrigerated air).
            You have the advantage on me with the wind mills. I have never lived next to a big wind mill. I had a small unit on my sailboat. Unit did not produce power below 10 mph and was annoyingly loud at 15 mph wind. Louder than my Honda generator. In the area I lived afternoon wind was never steady.
            Because of required wind mills in the Columbia river valley the cost of electric had gone up and the Greenpeace are trying to shut them down. Mainly for killing predatory bird. Eagles do not understand 30′ impactor coming at them at 400 mph (that is operational tip speed). Computer chip manufacturing in the area that had good steady hydro electric power has shut down because the wind mills caused power spikes damaged the products. Unintended results of good intention. In Hawaii every large scale privately funded wind power electric production has failed. Small units are zoned out because of annoyance laws. The new government funded one on Maui is on the leeward side of the Island hardly ever works because of poor wind conditions. But the land was cheap and there is no neighbors.

          • Frank

            Where did you get your tip speed data? I found thishttp://www.aweo.org/windmodels.html and they are all below 200.

            As to the ice, my question is more about potential than that companies exact vision. CA says they are going to put in a large amount of renewables. They have more sun than anything, and they are installing far more PV than solar thermal. In 2014 summer they was already signifcant peak shaving going on, saving them money, but fast forware 5 or 10 years in in those roughly 8 hours when the sun is shining, is where a ton of their production is going to happen. They will have no issues with AC load at noon, so but when the sun goes down, it is a differnt story. Yes, giving the utility control of when it made ice, and when it used it would be optimal.

            BTW, GE sells Durathon batteries with their Brilliant wind turbines that are not lead acid, and not lithium ion.

            All power production technologies have their challenges, advantages and disadvantages. Take coal. The mining is bad, the air polution is bad, the leftovers are bad, and it isn’t even that cheap anymore. Gas has lots of problems from fracking, as does oil. Burning oil causes air pollution. Hydro dams cause problems with silting, and issues for the fish. Nuclear has occasional really hamful and super expensive accidents, and it’s really not cost competitive. And that’s before we even start talking about storing the waste for thousands of years.

            You can’t compare renewables to perfection. You have to compare it to the existing dirty harmful expensive and running out fossil fulels, and you have to understand that it is a moving target. For example, if somebody figures out how to make a cheap enough battery with no material constraints, then 100% renewables become easy. I don’t know what will happen, but I can tell you nobody predicted the cost declines that happened in Solar in the last 10 years.

          • Phil

            You are right about tip speed on big wind mills. I was using Greenpeace’s argument apparently not based on facts. I was also wrong on blade length 102 feet (136 mph) to 180 feet (working tip speed 232 mph), still is a high speed impactor. A strike above 35 mph is generally fatal.
            Personally I would love to see a wind mill farm off Martha’s Vineyard. In combo with Niagara Falls power it might even brake even in cost. Covering Long Island with wind mills to feed New York City. Also putting wind mills on all the Skyscrapers in cities no endangered birds there. The noise would not be a problem. Although having a 180 foot malti-ton blade dropping in on a crowed street might bother some people.
            I’m all for ideas that produce and use energy more economically and efficiently. I use a heat pump hot water heater. I own a passive solar heated home that I designed to fit location. I use greenhouse cooling screening so I do not need air conditioning. I designed a floating water pump that in a 4mph stream can lift 1/2 gal, 60′ lift per minute and can generate 12 watts of electricity at the same time. 24 hour = 720 gals and 280 watts of electricity. One person can deploy it cost less than $100 in material only needs an anchor point and 18″ water flow. One moving part.
            The ice idea on paper appear to be a good one. It looks like it will pays for it’s self because of higher peak power rates. If controlled by grid managers can make the grid more efficient, but I doubt the owner will receive any benefit. Like hydrogen Tec it does not produce power but does has limited storage usage.
            To solve a problem you must understand it. Currant bad ideas: It takes 1.2 barrows of oil to make 1 equivalent barrow of ethanol fuel. The belief that we can improve a Tec that has been around for thousands of years and is already supper efficient, is absurd. We are at the finish line there. Battery Tec improvement for lead also at finish line. Li-ion room for improvement but very high cost. Low temp supper conductors long shot. Solar panels, finding a broader spectrum panel or reducing cost to return ratio not likely, but some hope. Currently China is subsidizing there solar production and has a monopoly on rare earth minerals. Solar is discounted but still not competitive.
            Denying problems and incurring unrecoverable debt on bad Tec does not solve problems.
            The belief that storing power in batteries does not incur power loss is just plain wrong. I fixed a stand alone solar system by adding an isolation diode between solar array and batteries. Also having him switch off his over sized inverter. When turned on and not being used it was using 14,400 watt a day. It is a very efficient unit. A solar panel is a semi-conductor. If it is not making power it is using it.
            He was running he gas generator daily because his $5,000, 5,500 watt array solar system could not keep his 1 (12vdc reading light lit and he could not listen to NPR on his radio. His system was built by an expert.

          • Phil

            Repaired by someone who lived with a stand alone system for years, who also understood the problem.
            Blowing sunshine up someone’s skirt giving optimistic promises that will fail does not help to solve problems. Thinking outside the box does.
            The above mention Gentleman’s solar stand alone carbon foot print was 4 or 5 times greater than my. He used 3 times the gasoline. Dollar wise he spent more on propane than I paid on electric heat from a hydro-electric provider and wood pellet stove. He lives in a 24′ travel trailer radio, 1 reading light, propane heater, refrigerator and cook stove. I live in a 1,500 sq.ft. Log home, pellet stove, electric stove, hot water, freezer, refrigerator, computers, tv, and radiant heat.
            A hybrid car in a coal powered electric area (2/3 of USA) has a carbon foot print many time greater than a gasoline car getting 20 mpg. Plus a 5 year battery replacement with the carbon cost of building the batteries.
            Doing anything is better than doing nothing. WRONG!!!

  • Phil

    Got to love the chart and the house. Average home electric use 902 KWH per month. The pictured house has about 1.5 KWH array on it. Average 10 hours a day 30 days a month = 450 KWH per month. So unless you have a generator you will need to be connected to the grid. The ability to store power for a week of bad weather would mean the basement would be filled with batteries. 5 year replacement cost, Lead acid (hydrogen gas explosion) or Li-Ion (lithium fire) if improperly handled major toxic waste site. Think ‘Hindenburg’, toxic lead or lithium that burns white hot in water. A lovely neighbor, when the kids are afraid of the monster under their bed, they have good reason to be. Good luck sleeping on that toxic monster.
    The only place I know where solar makes sense is in some parts of Hawaii. Even grid tied highly subsidized it is still more expensive than Hawaiian bulk oil fired steam electric plants. I hope some day science will figure out a efficient electric storage system your article gives no hope of that! 25% off ridiculously high is still ridiculously high!

    • Phil, how many people have lead-acid batteries in their cars?

      There are few people in the electricity industry who don’t see energy storage as disruptive within the coming decade or so. 2014 was a record-smashing year, and 2015 will smash that. Yes, it’s just getting started. Believe it or not, nobody starts at the finish line.

      • Phil

        I’ve lived with solar stand alone system for years. Very few stand alone systems are more than just lighting.
        Please understand in Hawaii they have reached the point where grid tied systems (10%) are causing real problems in maintaining consistent spike free power. I foresee in the near future Hawaii power not allowing any more grid tie systems because of disruptive spikes.
        Also understand non-grid tied systems are not subsidize and grid tied do not need batteries. The new battery Tech and reduced price is because of hybrid cars.
        A golf cart has 6 batteries each twice as big as a car battery. 12 times as much lead. The power stored in it would operate a average house for less than a day. (An electric stove about 15 minutes.) Stored power for a week 84 times the lead, acid and hydrogen production. As more hybrid cars burn down houses and people will find their insurance cost going through the roof.
        I live in a similar climate as Germany, solar works about 10 months of the year. Unless you are a stationary engineer, the average person has no idea what they are getting into providing their own power. Maintaining Batteries, generator, corrosion, DC to AC inverters and solar power controllers. These are not idiot prof systems. Grid tied systems are! Currently you will never recover your original capital out lay. Without subsidies it will cost more than double.
        Currently a $10,000 (US) will buy you a stand alone system that will give you: lighting, one very small refrigerator and an electric blanket that will keep you from freezing to death 10 months of the year. December and January above 40° longitude solar may not work at all. The generator and fuel for at least 2 months extra. Unless some new tech happens, we are at the finish line.

        • I understand all of those matters very well. I’m actually considered a global expert on them. However, I disagree that Hawaii has big problems and needs to cut off grid connections. Also, I don’t appreciate the anti-battery hype, as it is just that — hype.

          • Phil

            Right how many have you designed and lived in?

  • GL

    That is all very nice but the truth of the matter is that all electricity consumers have to pay 5 eurocents per kWh on top of the regular electricity price – which is high enough as it is. This ‘renewable energy contribution’ then is given to producers of renewable energy for they have a guaranteed price by law until 2019 or something like that. In fact, this law incentivized renewable electricity production so much that wholesale prices are the lowest in years due to the high supply. However, retail prices are the highest ever and ca. 100% higher than in 2000 if I remember correctly. Consumers and small businesses have to pay the price meaning that private consumption and job creation suffers. At the same time, big German car or chemical companies like Volkswagen or BASF build new plants in the US instead of at home.

  • Of course they are. With enough subsidies, you could make solar completely free. But subsidies aren’t free money for fucks sake.

    Subsidizing battery tech disincentivizes research on more practical efficient battery technology research, which means consumers might have immediate access to cheaper subsidized batteries, but they will be less efficient, more unwieldy, more dangerous, hazardous, last less, store less etc.

    If you want to completely fuck up and stunt development in a certain technology, just subsidize the shit out of it.

    • Alexander Brueck

      Subsidies may decrease innovation, but they don’t take it down to zero. The best battery system will still win the market, and therefore alternatives will continue to be be researched. In fact, one could argue that since there is more money in solar due to subsidies, innovators are flocking to the field.

      • They don’t take it down to zero, sure. But if some companies are receiving free money, unearned money to innovate, the rest will have less incentive to research and produce a high quality product.

        I want to see the same rate of innovation (of manufacturing, of UI/UX of affordability, of distribution) that mobile smart phones have had in the last decade, happen to solar. Imagine how beneficial that would be.

      • Specifically about the title of this article, it’s intensely misleading. I don’t think Solar would benefit from twisting truths, but will receive a reputation of it being promoted by subversive, manipulative individuals and interests.

        It’s being presented as if the market has deemed solar power to be so affordable in Germany, that the consumer prices have dropped significantly. That the tech has become so cheap to manufacture, or to distribute etc, that they have objectively become cheap.

        When the reality of the situation is that the government had decided to subsidise, and that’s it. They could decide to subsidise 100%, would it the same title make sense?

        • Solarsurfer

          Solar Panel costs have fallen 80% in 5 years as installation have grown over 140,000% (99%) decrease in costs in 25 yrs. You are right tax breaks for consumers (far different that huge subsides to big oil) are responsible for stimulating this growth, but cost decreases are are direct result of market forces coupled with tech improvements. I agree take away ALL subsidies for all industries, but many new tech industries have enjoyed subsides which has led to cost decreases and massive social improvements (computers, telecom, space etc)

        • The article is about solar power storage, not solar power. You’re on a completely wrong technology here.

          But that said, yes, the unsubsidized cost of solar has fallen off a cliff in the past few years, and a big part of that was Germany incentivizing the market.

          • “Germany incentivizing the market”

            Through, subsidies and tax cuts? How is that not unsubsidised?

            Aren’t systems for solar power harnessing and storage sold together as a package, and they receive the same tax cut benefits and subsidies as solar power?

          • Storage is storage. This is about a 25% drop in storage costs.

            The cost of a solar module or solar power plant, unsubsidized, has fallen considerably. Again, this is not complicated. A big reason (which is actually many reasons) why it has fallen so much is due to economies of scale, which came about via subsidies and incentives.

          • I’m really supportive of Solar energy for a multitude of reasons, but I can’t seem to grasp what methods governments and analysts use to separate change in price caused by subsidies, and then what part of that price was because of the free market adopting more efficient methods of manufacture and distribution.

            As of now, I don’t think there is a feasible method to separate the two.

            By the way, if a country subsidises the absolute worst idea ever, say manufacturing plastic bunnies that release tangy smells every 3 hours, you know for kids, prices will come down in a similar fashion to solar prices coming down.

            That’s what happens when you flood something with money, the trick is that we can’t know how fast it would’ve dropped without subsidies.

    • Hurrya

      Fossil fuels get subsidized to the tune of $ 500 billion a year, so it’s only fair that renewables will be ultimately be much cheaper gets subsidized too.

      • This is why fossil fuel utilization is shit, shit for the environment, shit at innovating efficiency, shit at implementing it. The incentive to innovate is lost when you have such massive subsidies.

  • Is this mostly Li-Ion or some heavier chemistry? Thanks

    • MeinNameIstLead

      It’ usually Lead acid, like in a car.

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