Energy storage - Germany takes the lead.
The German “Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy” (BMWI) is administrating several R&D programs to promote new technologies related to the green shift. Being the largest solar energy market in Europe and leading wind power provider, Germany has been taking the lead in developing green energy for decades. The first incentive programs were established in the 90´s, and the strategic choices of Germany has been copied by several other countries.
Chairman of the board of Ewave, Jarle Lysberg, says “Germany is now very close to have renewables as the main source for energy consumption, reaching 544 TWh or 46.3 % in 2020 from renewable sources.” Advisor to the board, Steinar Fretheim, adds: “As the renewable share of the energy mix is rising, the question of energy storage becomes more and more important. As the volatility of wind and solar power is significant, the ability to store renewable energy is becoming a major challenge that has to be solved in order to reach the goals for 2030.” Germany is pursuing its leading role within the green shift by focusing on R&D targeted to improve several key issues, the BMWI is focusing on promoting research related to stationary electricity storage installations. In addition to batteries, this includes research into hydrogen, methane and methanol-based storage solutions.
“The German efforts are also addressing some key questions related to energy storage”, continues Jarle Lysberg. “The topics of interest are addressing both long term and short-term solutions. Depending on time scale, R&D is focusing on batteries, condensers and flywheels for the short-term storage, as well as hydrogen and methane based long term solutions. The Germans also invest in cross-border solutions for long-term storage, by installing high-capacity cables to Norway, utilizing Norwegian hydro plants as a battery.” “The 1400 MW cable installed between the countries in December 2020 has the capacity to transfer 12.2 TWh or 8% of Norway´s total energy production. The cable makes it possible to transfer surplus power from German wind and solar plants to Norway, pumping water into the magazines if necessary, and transfer energy back when the wind doesn’t blow or when solar power plants doesn’t produce.” says Steinar Fretheim.
The R&D programs are addressing questions like improving existing technologies, standardization, battery management, grid integration and sustainable production of storage solutions. “The German tradition of extensive applied science R&D efforts is showing in the various programs”, continues Jarle Lysberg. “Germany fields some of the most renown research facilities within renewable energy. For solar energy research, alongside a plethora of areas of expertise, is by many considered #1”, says Steinar Fretheim. “The Germany legacy within R&D is substantial, matching that of any nation regarding physics, mathematics and chemistry. As a curiosity, it is worth keeping in mind that Einstein didn’t get his Nobel Prize in 1921 for the theory of relativity but for his work on the photoelectric effect, the basis for modern PV-based solar power. I would say the odds are pretty low if you are betting on the solution for energy storage to come from a German R&D facility.”