"Exploring storage technologies and bringing them to full maturity for industrial applications is a strategic task which is indispensible if we want our energy transition policy to work,"

The first "Energy Storage – International Summit for the Storage of Renewable Energies" in Düsseldorf, Germany, attracted 350 participants from 29 countries, confirming the importance of this topic. The event was organized by Messe Düsseldorf in cooperation with Solarpaxis AG. The two-day conference with an accompanying technical exhibition focused on practical feasibility. In the exhibition part, 20 companies presented their products and services in the field of energy storage technology.

In his key note speech, Norbert Röttgen, German Minister of the Environment, described Energy Storage as a unique, pioneering event. "Exploring storage technologies and bringing them to full maturity for industrial applications is a strategic task which is indispensible if we want our energy transition policy to work," explained the Minister and added that energy transition is still an extraordinary task which can only be taken on if everyone works together.

In their opening address, Hans Werner Reinhard, Deputy Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf and Karl-Heinz Remmers, Chairman of the Executive Board of Solarpraxis AG, both referred to the changed standard in energy supply which the development and future wider application of storage technologies will lead to. "In the future, the development of storage technology will have to focus on cutting prices and making technologies more efficient and more widely available," stated Karl-Heinz Remmers.

The Chairman of the Conference Program Committee, Prof. Dr. Eicke R. Weber, Spokesman of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance and Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, reminded the audience that a lot of "pigeon-hole thinking" is still creating obstacles for the energy transition: "It is important to see the whole picture in order to tackle the challenges of the energy transition." Prof. Dr. Weber considers the Energy Storage Conference an important step in this direction and that the large number of renowned experts and the excellent presentations contributed to the event's success: "I have attended a lot of conferences all over the world, but I have never been in a situation like this: Wherever I look I see someone interesting with whom to discuss energy storage. We have all the experts here that we need."

Achim Zerres of the German Federal Network Agency made a connection between the development of storage technologies and other measures taken as part of the energy transition. He also mentioned cross-border exchange of energy, which will increase and be competition for energy storage technologies. The same applies for adapting consumption to power generation. According to Achim Zerres, the expansion of the grid may make storage technologies obsolete but on the other hand the expense of grid expansion may be reduced by employing storage technologies. To achieve this, generation and consumption have to be located close to each other.

In the session "Scenarios for the energy supply of the future and the role of storage technologies", Raphael Goldstein of German Trade and Invest GmbH explained that Euro 25 to 50 billion are expected to be invested in the expansion of storage capacities. In 2011, the surplus in electricity production had already led to a demand for 15 GWh of storage capacity.

Thermal storage is indispensible for making renewable energy available for efficient heating and cooling. The last discussion round on the first day of the conference concluded their topic of thermal energy storage in agreement. The panelists underlined that there is not one single technology that can meet all of the requirements - different challenges call for different solutions. They agreed that it is important to start off by determining the purpose of a storage system. There was also a discussion about the pros and cons of cooling and heating technology, latent heat accumulators and thermo-chemical storage.

Prof. Dr. Olav Hohmeyer, Professor of Energy and Resource Management at the Flensburg University, chaired a discussion about the topic "Large Scale Hydro Storage and European Grid Integration" on the second day. The debate concentrated on Norway, which has 50% of Europe's storage potential due to its large lakes. Norway was presented as Europe's green battery, boasting a storage capacity of around 84 terrawatt hours and - unlike any other storage technology - with the option of long-term storage. The panelists concluded that thinking only country specific will not lead to the right solutions but that it is instead important to look for overall European solutions.

The final discussion underlined the necessity of putting the energy system as a whole to the test. This should include examining the energy mix of the future and how the expansion of the grid and storage capacity can meet its demands. This is the only way of achieving reasonable, economic and efficient planning. The experts concurred that a mix of storage technologies is needed in order to meet the demands of the future. Within that mix, the largest share will be covered by those storage technologies that improve the quickest, i.e. which are fastest in increasing efficiency whilst lowering prices.

After the promising start, Energy Storage – International Summit for the Storage of Renewable Energies, will again be held next year: on May 18 and 19, 2013 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

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