News – What`s happening in energy research

read short description

Pumped storage power stations cover the majority of global power storage requirements. As their use is restricted by certain geographical constraints, the potential for expansion of this technology is limited.
© Mazbln (Eigenes Werk) via Wikimedia Commons
Energy storage devices workshop

In the M5BAT project, researchers are developing a modular battery storage device. The image shows a visualisation of the future battery storage system building.
© Eon

Stepping-up battery research

An expert commission of the Technology Network of the International Energy Agency held a conference in Berlin on the topic of energy storage devices. Representatives of various member states voiced recommendations for future research into storage devices in a workshop. Battery technology was focussed on.

Participants of the “The Role of Storage in Energy System Flexibility” workshop discussed the current standard of technology and defined trends in energy storage in the context of power grids. The workshop aimed to define topics in which participants saw a pressing need for political and scientific action. The various discussions centred around the fact that renewable energy must be increasingly integrated in the power grid worldwide.

There was general consensus that pumped storage power stations currently represent the most important pillar in global energy storage. Around the world, over 50 different energy storage technologies are used. These have an overall storage capacity of 145 gigawatts, 142 of which pumped storage power stations account for. The systems behind these are sophisticated; their potential for expansion, however, is limited, as their use is subject to geographical constraints. “We expect the demand for battery-based energy storage to increase in the long term,” explains Dr Johannes Tambornino, German representative in the “Experts' Group on Research and Development” (EGRD), adding: “On the topic of battery technology, we focussed in the workshop on redox-flow and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. As to the latter, indications are of increasing sales potential due to the expansion of electric mobility. More batteries are consequently being produced, which in the long term will lead to reduced costs.”

Four of the five overall recommendations of the expert commission on technical focal areas for future research relate to battery technology.

The five recommendations at a glance:

  • A thorough understanding ought to be developed of electrochemical phenomena that have an impact on the development of new, efficient batteries used in connection with power grids.
  • Ongoing development and research into the chemical compositions of new and alternative batteries should be continued. This concerns the optimisation of electrodes, electrolytes, membranes and critical components, and the development of innovative cell and stack designs with technical materials.
  • Ongoing implementation of demonstration and pilot projects for developing and manufacturing new battery systems that concern the technical laboratory review of the development of components and systems, the development of prototypes and test bench analysis, or the refinement of manufacturing processes.
  • The EGRD furthermore advised optimising the production of batteries in terms of costs amongst other factors.
  • Technology cost models should also be developed to promote research and development and to support innovations.
  • Further strategic recommendations beyond technical aspects are outlined by the experts under the “reliability and safety”, “appropriate regulatory framework conditions” and “industry acceptance” taglines.

Numerous research projects are already in progress in Germany into the integration of batteries in power grids as part of the Energy Storage Research Initiative. One example that was also highlighted in the workshop is the “Modular multi-megawatt multi-technology medium voltage battery storage device” (M5BAT) project. In this project, researchers are developing a modular battery storage system with a performance class of five megawatts. The special feature is the combination of different battery technologies. Lithium-ion batteries for instance are used as short-term power storage devices, lead batteries for short and medium discharge times, and high-temperature batteries over several hours.
The objective of the “En:Sys: energy storage device system analysis” thematic network, which was also presented in the workshop, is to systematically and analytically assess energy storage technologies in Germany from an energy management perspective. Using models, scientists investigate how energy storage devices and shiftable loads can contribute towards integrating renewable energies into a European supply system. The aim is to keep the costs of integration as low as possible. The major spheres of power, heat and transportation are placed under equal scrutiny in this regard.

Recommendations passed to decision-making committee

Over 50 representatives from political circles, research and industry participated in the “Experts‘ Group on Energy R&D Priority Setting and Evaluation” (EGRD) themed international workshop instigated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. These included experts from the energy sector and members of EGRD. This commission of the IEA advises the “Committee on Energy Research and Technology” (CERT), which within the IEA is the highest decision-making committee in the field of research and development on energy technologies. “The objectives drafted by the expert commission in the workshop influence the thematic definition of future research projects implemented in connection with the IEA,” states Tambornino. “The workshop’s report to CERT contains recommendations on which technologies are deemed to be particularly crucial and deserving of promotion from our perspective and from the perspective of other participating experts. CERT draws on the workshop’s collective expertise amongst other things in the decision-making process.” The detailed final report on the workshop will shortly be available on the website of the IEA.



BINE subscription

Subscribe to newsletter


Project coordination

Scientific implementation
Universität Stuttgart


IEA homepage
In Kürze gibt es den kompletten Bericht des Workshops zum Download

Energy storage systems
Recent reports on research, development and demonstration of energy storage systems

Info tips

„Researching in the global network“
BINE-Themeninfo brochure I/2014