In what could be a potential gamechanger for wider adoption of renewable energy as a bigger component of utility grids, a large modular battery storage system is planned for construction later this year in Aachen, Germany.
The system, which is being billed as the world’s first modular large-scale battery storage system, is called the Modular Multimegawatt, Multitechnology Medium-Voltage Battery Storage System (M5BAT), and as its name suggests, isn’t comprised of a single energy storage technology, but instead combines different battery technologies for optimal usability. The M5BAT includes lithium-ion batteries for short-term demand, high-temp batteries for power supply over several hours, and lead-acid batteries for discharges of an hour or less.
“To achieve a 100 percent 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 goal is to develop a concept for modular and flexibly scalable battery inverter systems that can be used to supply all critical grid management services in the utility grid.” – Volker Wachenfeld, Senior Vice President Hybrid & Storage at SMA
This modular system is being built as a collaboration between the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University, E.ON electric utility company, Exide and Beta Motion (battery manufacturers), and SMA Solar Technology AG (inverter manufacturer), and is being backed with a €6.5 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
“Due to the conversion to renewable energy sources in Germany, smart grids and large-scale energy storage technologies are getting ever more important. As part of its technology development and innovation activities, over the last years, E.ON has been investing in a wide range of future technologies. Battery storage systems are particularly interesting because, unlike compressed-air or pump storage power stations, they neither require special geographical conditions nor long planning cycles.” – Leonhard Birnbaum, member of the E.ON Board of Management
The planned battery storage system, because of its inclusion of various battery technologies, and its power class and modular features, promises to open up a variety of potential applications for energy storage, such as better integration of renewable energy production and further stabilization of power grids, along with enabling electricity trading (price arbitrage).