Germany to promote solar power storage next month
Yesterday, the German government announced a new market incentive program as proposed last year by the German Parliament. The incentives will, however, only be provided if the storage systems go beyond mere batteries and include energy management tailored to what the grid needs.
As forecast by the solar sector itself years ago, solar power changes the way power markets work. At low levels of penetration, it reduces demand for peak power plants, thereby making power less expensive overall. But as the share of solar power increases, photovoltaics increasingly becomes disruptive for the margins of conventional energy providers, who see their medium load power being offset.
In 2012, Germany got less than five percent of its electricity from PV; nonetheless, solar power production regularly peaks at around a third of power demand on sunny days. Germany is therefore looking for ways to spread that power production across the day.
Yesterday, the German government announced the rollout of special incentives for the storage of solar power starting next month. No specific date was given, nor were any specific figures announced. Nonetheless, the announcement has met with approval in the solar community, with German solar association BSW voicing its support for specific conditions to reduce the impact on the grid. Specifically, peak solar power production is to be smoothed out over the day.
Researchers at Fraunhofer ISE have estimated that energy management systems could reduce peak solar power production by as much as 40 percent, allowing up to 66 percent more solar to be integrated in the grid. But of course, the new policy will only have an immediate impact if it also applies, perhaps voluntarily, to systems already installed.
Increasingly, the focus in Germany is on this kind of "real-time net metering." In conventional net-metering, which Germany has never had, a homeowner's power production is merely subtracted from the household's power consumption irrespective of simultaneity. Since 2010, Germany has been looking into ways to make payments for solar power partly contingent upon the grid's demands at particular times. (Craig Morris)