In Germany in late November, a 90MW battery energy storage system (BESS) project was officially put into operation, and it is the largest implementation of its kind in the country. Six 15MW lithium-ion battery based systems have been deployed across Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Germany’s energiewende–the transition to sustainable energy–has resulted in increasing fluctuations in energy supply due to the nature of the power produced by sources such as wind and solar power. These produce electricity efficiently and sustainably but production changes depending on the weather conditions and time of day. Fluctuations can also be caused by unexpectedly higher or lower energy consumption, errors in electricity forecasts and power plant failure.
Even small fluctuations in electricity supply can cause damage to existing systems and result in blackouts, so they must be evened out almost immediately. This has traditionally been carried by producers generating conventional electricity from fossil fuels.
The new battery systems, however, will provide load balancing services with operating reserve. Each BESS will even out frequency fluctuations within seconds, either feeding energy into the grid in scenarios where the frequency is too low, or storing it when frequency is too high. They will will also have the capacity to provide a minimum 30 minutes operating reserve.
This is an important contribution to the energiewende, one which is even more impressive considering that the project was developed and implemented without subsidies. Germany has been a world leader in the production of renewable energy (in particular, of solar power) and is now becoming a world leader in energy storage.
One of the major areas where this is taking place is in the implementation of small scale storage systems linked to small solar systems.