Schmid Group, a production equipment supplier to the photovoltaic (PV), flat panel display (FPD) and electronics industries, is piloting an energy storage system with Stadtwerke Freudenstadt, a local utility in Germany.
A new business unit within the technology company, called Schmid Energy Systems, is tasked with bringing to market energy storage and management systems based on vanadium redox flow batteries.
Vanadium redox flow batteries, an established technology, are well-suited to storage on the grid, for storing energy over periods of six hours or longer for peak shifting applications. Schmid Group has been refining the technology since 2009. The company’s new business unit will launch a containerised energy storage system, complete with battery management system (BMS), in 2014. The system will have a capacity in the region of 150 kWh.
The pilot project with Stadtwerke Freudenstadt will run for three years. A 90 kWh energy storage and management system in a container is being installed at a transformer substation, which reduces high voltage electricity supplied from the grid to low voltage electricity for supplying power in local neighbourhoods. The system will be commissioned in September 2013 and will allow the partners to monitor how reliably the system works on the grid. The companies prepared and distributed information leaflets to local residents in proximity to the pilot explaining its purpose. The electricity will be used by Stadtwerke Freudenstadt to cover peak loads, in the afternoon and evening mainly.
Speaking exclusively to Energy Storage Journal, during Intersolar 2013 in Munich recently, Dr Ralf Lüdemann, who is leading Schmid Energy Systems, explained the main end-user markets the company will target. ‘These include utilities interested in storage in the region of 100-200 kWh for offsetting grid infrastructure investment, for example, and industrial and commercial end-users with large energy requirements.’
A second pilot with another partner is also expected to begin later this year for a public building, such as bus depot and garage, which will use the energy storage system in conjunction with a PV system.
Though Schmid has been fielding enquiries for MWh storage applications, Lüdemann believes there a many applications within the 20-200 kWh region that Schmid Energy Systems will be able to supply in the coming years, while large-scale applications, such as storage for big solar parks could be addressed at a later stage. Gildemeister, another Germany industrial player, is targeting off-grid opportunities as well as peak shaving and other applications with its own vanadium redox flow battery-based system, called CellCube, which was on display during Intersolar 2013.
From its experience of supplying entire polysilicon plants, Schmid has acquired a breadth of know-how concerning chemical processing and machines for making devices based on these processes. ‘This meant we could use this know-how and experience to develop battery manufacturing on an industrial scale. A key part of our R&D focus is going to be on enhancing materials to improve battery performance and even investigation on next generation redox flow battery concepts,’ explains Lüdemann, who joined Schmid Group in late 2012 after working at SolarWorld for 10 years.