WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS 2013: Batteries and hydrogen have immense potential as energy storage media
Energy storage media are to help compensate for fluctuations in the power grid. From 30 September to 2 October 2013, industry experts will be presenting a variety of solutions at the f-cell, BATTERY+STORAGE, e-mobil BW TECHNOLOGIETAG and Solar Energy Solutions conferences in Stuttgart, Germany.
Meeting the demand for energy from renewable energy sources and thus protecting the climate and reducing dependence on imported energy is a long-term goal. One of the challenges involved is that production from sun and wind can no longer simply be adjusted to match actual demand in the power grid at a given time. Production proceeds independent of momentary demand levels and actually generates too much electricity at certain times. Batteries, chemical storage media such as hydrogen or methane and fuel cells can play a significant role in a future renewable energy system. That will be a major focus of discussion among industry experts at the f-cell, BATTERY+STORAGE, Solar Energy Solutions and e-mobil BW TECHNOLOGIETAG conferences under the unifying umbrella of the WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS in Stuttgart from 30 September to 2 October 2013.
"Developing complete system strategies rather than individual solutions"
"A good – and until now the only – option for storing large quantities of ‘surplus' energy for an extended period of time is to convert it into hydrogen," explains f-cell-speaker Dr. Ulrich Bünger of Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH in Ottobrunn near Munich. "Surplus green electricity drives an electrolyzer that produces the chemical energy storage medium hydrogen." Gas utilities in Germany are interested in feeding the gas into their existing 420,000-km-long pipeline network either directly or converted to methane. "Once the remaining technical issues have been resolved, this will be an effective method of storing energy. But it cannot be regarded as a business model quite yet," adds Bünger.
He therefore recommends focusing on the overall system. In future, he points out, the transportation sector will need larger quantities of hydrogen, as such manufacturers as Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Renault and Toyota are planning to launch serial production of fuel-cell vehicles between 2014 and 2018. Hyundai has already introduced a small series. And, he says, there is also a demand for hydrogen in industry. "The existing initiatives devoted to developing a hydrogen infrastructure are insufficient. We need to examine this issue within the context of the overall energy system and work together with all relevant interest groups."
Electrical power produced by homeowners
In the meantime, people are making relevant contributions to the overall system. "With over 1.9 million photovoltaic systems (PV systems) installed on the roofs of private homes and farm buildings in Germany, numerous property owners have now become producers of electricity," notes Dr. Jann Binder, Managing Director of Solar Cluster Baden-Württemberg e.V. and organizer of the Solar Energy Solutions conference segment. Solar power accounted for 4.6 percent of gross production in 2012 in Germany. And the boom continues in spite of falling feed-in tariffs: PV systems with a combined output of 7.6 gigawatts were installed in 2012 alone. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment expects a further increase of three to four gigawatts in 2013.
PV electricity for home/industrial use and storage in batteries
Dr. Andreas Gutsch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, a speaker at BATTERY+STORAGE, cites an increasing interest in the direct local use of electricity generated by PV systems. "People who want to reduce their dependence on the power grid need batteries in order to ensure a supply of energy in the evenings when the sun isn't shining," he explains, adding that such units will soon become economically efficient as battery prices continue to fall. On the other hand, he points out, the use of batteries to compensate for seasonal fluctuations over the entire year is not a viable solution, as batteries are too expensive – in spite of falling prices – when used only sporadically. "With a battery storage unit and a smart heat pump, a system operator can raise the share of self-generated PV electricity to 50 percent of his total annual energy needs", explains Binder.
Heat and electrical power from a fuel-cell heating unit
The remaining need for heat and electrical power can be covered by fuel-cell heating units, which are capable of producing these forms of energy very efficiently. For this purpose they are connected to the natural gas network – and in future perhaps to a hydrogen supply line. Units of this type have been in use in Germany within the framework of the large-scale "Callux" field test since 2008. Energy suppliers and equipment manufacturers will be reporting on recent advances at f-cell.
The complete conference programme for f-cell, BATTERY+STORAGE, Solar Energy Solutions and the e-mobil TECHNOLOGIETAG featuring some 140 presentations as well as further information on the WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS trade fair and other matters are available at www.f-cell.de and www.world-of-energy-solutions.de. The conference language of f-cell and BATTERY+STORAGE is English, the e-mobil BW TECHNOLOGIETAG will be simultaneously interpreted. The Solar Energy Solutions conference is held in German.