Japan will install the world’s largest battery bank to store solar energy

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) has announced that it will build the world’s largest battery at an electrical substation in the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. The battery will have a storage capacity of 60 megawatt-hours (mWh), or 60,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), almost double that of the former record-holder: a 36MWh battery in China. The battery is said to be being put in place to store excess energy from solar installations. The battery is set to be operational by early 2015.

METI seems to have chosen to develop this battery project in Hokkaido in part because of the high penetration of solar PV systems in the territory and the associated pressure that they have been putting on electricity infrastructure there. PV penetration in Hokkaido is higher there than anywhere else in Japan, due to the relatively low cost of land. Solar installations have been booming in Japan despite some of the highest installation costs in the world thanks to the generous, nation-wide feed-in tariff currently on offer.

The market for energy storage seems almost ripe in Japan, where public opinion has shifted strongly against nuclear power since the 11 March 2011 earthquake/tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Since then, the country has put a heavy emphasis on expanding renewable energy uptake. The generous feed-in tariff has been a key part of this plan.

Companies such as Kyocera have already begun introducing smaller energy storage devices for grid-connected homes in Japan. In addition to assisting in reducing demand pressure for electricity from the grid and thereby reducing reliance on nuclear plants, such devices would also be useful for individual homes for saving money on power bills and in the event of power failures.

Energy storage has become a hot topic globally, especially when it comes to renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaics (PV). Affordable energy storage has the potential to change the economic game for renewables, which often rely on the whim of natural phenomena–e.g. the wind blowing or the sun shining. METI’s project could go a long way in proving the viability of such a solution, not to mention helping to reduce costs for future, similar projects by being a loss leader.

Source: PV Tech

© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

James Martin II