17.01.2013
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Photovoltaics

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.

An energy management mainboard developed in 2010 by Fraunhofer.
An energy management mainboard developed in 2010 by Fraunhofer. - 
ISE, Dispatch

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)

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7 Comments on "Germany to promote solar power storage next month "

  1. Matt Dart - 11.11.2013, 05:28 Uhr (Report comment)

    I find it interesting to read articles about energy storage. I think it is the way to the future now, in order to save on the wastage of energy. It will also help in conserving energy and able to dispense it at appropriate time. It is good that the government supports such and that there are incentives for interest groups to take on such initiative.

  2. Photomofo - 24.01.2013, 20:09 Uhr (Report comment)

    Hello Osha... I assume you're talking about EMS in regards to PV/Wind? The best research is probably in German which I don't speak. Here's a quick overview with some rare price benchmarking.
    Google... "PNNL tests smart-appliance chip"
    Here's the much larger project report:
    "Pacific Northwest GridWise™ Testbed Demonstration Projects Part I. Olympic Peninsula Project"
    Good luck

  3. Osha Gray Davidson - 22.01.2013, 18:19 Uhr (Report comment)

    Photomofo, can you suggest articles to read for background on the current state of EMS?

  4. Photomofo - 17.01.2013, 15:46 Uhr (Report comment)

    OK... Keep us posted... I believe it's the story to follow this year.

  5. Photomofo - 17.01.2013, 15:40 Uhr (Report comment)

    OK... excellent... Keep us posted. I think including load shifting via EMS as a separate category to EMS + Storage is a good way to set the system up but who knows how they'll set things up? In my experience watching this all unfold I've found that the Germans tend to make rational choices. Including load shifting seems like the rational thing to me and I'm crossing my fingers that we'll see it. Probably the best reason to set the system up this way is because you set up choices - just like the FiT has - and then see what works.
    There was a quote in the paper from Bill Gates yesterday.
    "One thing that is different today [in energy] is software, which changes the game."
    I'm not a huge fan of Bill Gates as far as his energy thinking goes but this is spot on - I couldn't say it better. If you have the option to use software to manage energy my bet is it's going to be 10x cheaper than using hardware. A 10$ chip capable of shifting a kWh of electricity every day are going to beat batteries at $500/kWh. I've been working on a homemade EMS program to try to predict how much PV electricity can be self-consumed in a residential setting in Germany. My program isn't finished but based on preliminary results I'm starting to think that self-consumption rates as high as 70% are achievable with 50% of total demand covered - no batteries. You plug a 70% self-consumption rate into an economics calculator and it spits out very high IRRs even if you are giving away the other 30% of your production for free.
    Anyways... Here's to hoping. Cheers!

  6. Craig Morris - 17.01.2013, 13:37 Uhr (Report comment)

    Yes, but I await the details as eagerly as you -)

  7. Photomofo - 17.01.2013, 13:36 Uhr (Report comment)

    Let's say you bought an electric hot water heater. Would heating the tank according to the instruction of an EMS system be considered a form of storage?

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