One of Europe’s largest commercial battery power plants entered service on September 16. The 5 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion unit was designed by Berlin-based grid and storage company Younicos for WEMAG, an electricity supplier. The unit represents one of the first times in Europe that a standalone battery is stabilizing fluctuations in grid frequency. The battery is intended to help integrate wind and solar energy into the grid.

The power grid largely has been stabilized by coal-fired power plants, which can use only a fraction of their output for control power, says Clemens Triebel, CTO of Younicos. This blocks space in the grid and forces wind and solar generation to be taken offline. “Our battery park avoids this economic impact because it is much faster and more precise than a thermal power station,” he says. The 5 MW battery is claimed to provide the same control power as a conventional 50 MW turbine.

IHS forecasts that annual installations will rapidly accelerate and reach over 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2017, promoted by the availability of financial incentives to reduce the upfront cost of an energy storage system, by the introduction of energy storage procurement/installation targets and by changes in electricity grid regulations that create business case opportunities. IHS projects that growth will continue and by 2022, over 40 GW of energy storage systems will be installed in grid-connected applications, including behind-the-meter, in-the-grid and co-located with renewable and conventional generators.

The German battery unit received initial development funding of 1.3 million Euros from the innovation program of the Federal Environment Ministry and will compete in the primary frequency regulation market.

Housed in a hall the size of a school gym, 25,600 lithium-manganese oxide cells can store and discharge power in milliseconds. Cell supplier Samsung SDI guaranteed the plant’s performance for 20 years. Five medium-voltage transformers, each weighing four tons, connect the battery to the regional distribution network and the 380 kilovolt high-voltage grids.

Additional Resources: IHS Technology