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Energy storage systems in the grid

The electrical power supply system is facing the biggest upheaval since its liberalisation in 1998. While power generation – especially wind energy – tend to be increasingly shifted to regions in northern and eastern Germany with their relatively low demand for electrical energy, the main consumption areas are in the west or in the south of Germany. In addition, there are temporal fluctuations in generation and load curves, whose compensation pose an increasingly difficult challenge to grid and power plant operators. Energy storages could play an important role in facing this challenge.

To compensate for the longer-term variations over weeks, months or even seasons, very large energy storages are needed. No technology is yet established on a large scale for this purpose. The small number of storage cycles throughout the year also makes it difficult to develop economical solutions.

Short-term load and generation fluctuations, for example as caused by storm shutdowns of wind turbines, require high-performance and responsive flexibilities, for example on the consumption side (by load management) or by storages. Underground pumped storage power plants with relatively short full-load operating times in the range of hours could find their niche here. Pumped storage power plants can start up automatically upon failure of grid power supply and in turn supply other power plants with the power required for startup. With this black-start capability, they increase security of supply within the power grid.

With the Energy Storage Funding Initiative, the three German Federal Ministries of Economics and Technology, the Environment and Research pool research expertise and resources to give the energy transition the necessary tools. The ministries are providing around 200 million euros for research projects of the funding initiative until 2017. The aim is to develop a wide range of storage technologies for electricity, heat and other energy sources. Two “flagships” are in the spotlight: the material storage of wind energy in the form of hydrogen or methane as well as the further development of battery systems for grid stability. Another research focus is heat storage. In particular, latent heat storage and chemical storage as well as projects related to renewable energy are being focussed on. The projects of the funding initiative are being documented continuously on the web portal at forschung-energiespeicher.info.

Projektinfo 18/2013:
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Project partner
TU Clausthal

Project partner
Voith GmbH

Project partner
OECOS GmbH