At the recent Energy Storage Conferece Düsseldorf, Germany Prof. Dr. Eicke R. Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, stated that: “The energy storage market is in the same situation today as photovoltaics was ten years ago; only development in the area of storage must proceed significantly faster.” The storage industry, he said, must achieve in three years what photovoltaics took ten years to achieve. The event, organized by Messe Düsseldorf, was held in Düsseldorf from March 25-27, 2014. Here, more than 850 experts from 46 countries discussed the most recent developments in energy storage. At an accompanying exhibition with almost 70 stands, visitors were able to inform themselves on the latest state-of-the-art technology immediately on site and to conclude concrete business deals.
In his keynote speech, the North Rhine-Westphalia Minister for Economics, Garrelt Duin, demanded that the general conditions and financial support for energy storage be more clearly organized and enforced. The public sector could, as a “visible consumer”, help to facilitate the breakthrough of energy storage technologies.
For the German visitors, the impending reform of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) was a dominant topic. Tobias Rothacher of Germany Trade and Invest hoped that the last word had not yet been said on the matter of EEG surcharge on industrial own consumption. He is assuming that the big breakthrough for energy storage will come in two to three years, when no more feed-in subsidies are paid after the “flexible cap” has been reached. “It is a logical step for the owners of photovoltaic plants to then purchase energy storage, in order to avoid throwing away the energy generated,” explained Rothacher. He reckons that, in Germany, it will be possible to store approximately 3.8 TWh PV energy on an economically viable basis by 2020. That would allow for an installed battery storage capacity of more than 12 GWh.
The market share of renewable energies will also increase worldwide. This is what Frank Wouters, Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), assumes. “Without increasing costs, the share of renewable energies in the energy supply worldwide can reach 36 percent by 2030,” he stated. Within the context of the Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition, IRENA held an international workshop with some 50 participants, during which promising energy storage technologies and applications that are to be included in IRENA’s global technology roadmap for energy storage were presented in detail.
Many speakers called for corresponding regulatory conditions, in order to facilitate the breakthrough of energy storage worldwide. For example, Dr. Ilja Pawel, Cellstrom GmbH/Gildemeister energy solutions, emphasized: “Energy storage still has a long way to go until it is used worldwide in an economically viable manner, but we are moving in the right direction. For this, we also need the right legal framework.”
Whether energy storage is economically viable is a very complex question and depends heavily on the respective local conditions, as was demonstrated by Tobias Cossen of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), among others. During the session on “Building the Global Ecosystem for Grid Storage,” he reported on the example of Philippine islands where diesel for energy production currently has to be flown in by helicopter. Here, a photovoltaic plant with energy storage amortizes itself very quickly, claimed Cossen.