Germany to build world’s first modular, multi-technology battery storage system

Can’t decide on which battery technology to use for your next big energy storage project? Well, now you can use them all!

A consortium consisting of researchers, an electric utility, battery manufacturers and an inverter manufacturer have joined forces to create the world’s first modular large-scale 5MW battery storage system. Dubbed the Modular Multimegawatt, Multitechnology Medium-Voltage Battery Storage System (M5BAT in short), the project is being co-ordinated by the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University in collaboration with E.ON (a German electric utility), Exide, Beta Motion and SMA Solar Technology AG.

Almost all other energy storage projects to date have exclusively used only one kind of storage technology. However, SMA’s flexible battery inverter systems have enabled the one-of-a-kind system to use multiple battery technologies to meet various levels of grid demand over various time periods (short, medium and long-term demand) with ease.

In terms of capacity, the M5BAT’s 5MW system is comparatively modest. However, the one-of-a-kind modular system uses a combination of Beta-Motion’s high-output lithium-ion batteries, Exide’s lead-acid batteries (both standard valve-regulated as well as the new long-life CSM type) and high-temperature batteries to meet short-term, short to medium-term and medium-term demand respectively.

The project has received about USD $8.9 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the hopes that it will solve key issues with a German grid that’s seen a prolific growth in renewable energy. As E.ON Board of Management member, Leonard Birnbaum explains, “The growth of renewables in Germany is making smart grids and large-scale energy storage technologies increasingly more important”.

The new project is expected to focus on demonstrating renewable energy integration, power price arbitrage and studying the role of distributed regulation and energy provision in promoting grid stability.

If it all turns out well, we could see even bigger and better-optimised systems in the future, thanks to the scalability and modularity of the SMA inverters. However, with construction set to begin in Q3 of this year, we may have to wait until 2015 to see whether the multi-technology storage system offers any significant advantage over other single-technology systems.

Top Image Credit: SMA

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Nitin Nampalli