Market Insight

Large-scale lead acid energy storage added to 68MW PV plant in Germany

December 09, 2014

Sam Wilkinson Sam Wilkinson Associate Director, Solar & Energy Storage
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PV developer Belectric has recently announced that it has deployed a 2MWhNP lead acid battery Energy Buffer System (EBS) at its 68 MW plant in Brandenburg, northern Germany. The PV plant came online in 2011. The addition of energy storage will now improve the plants integration into the grid, and will allow it to provide ancillary services to the grid.

Key Facts:

  • Belectric has added an 800kW / 2MWhNP (948kWh effective) energy storage system to its 68 MW PV plant in Brandenburg, Germany.  The plant was originally connected to the grid in 2011.
  • IHS believes that this is the largest PV plant with energy storage in Europe, and among the largest in the world.
  • In contrast to many recently completed or planned large-scale energy storage systems, the system uses lead acid technology.
  • The battery system operates at 1500V, which is claimed to reduce balance of plant costs, mirroring a similar move that Belectric has made in the PV industry.
  • As well as smoothing the output of the PV system, the plant will participate in the primary operating reserve market in Germany.
  • Source: First solar power plant in Europe to provide operating reserve at the high-voltage level

IHS Analysis:

Belectric (one of the largest solar integrators in the world) has added an energy storage system to a 68 MW PV plant in Northern Germany. The system is believed to be one of the largest PV systems in the world with energy storage attached. Other large, multi-MW, PV systems with storage co-located have been completed in Puerto Rico, La Reunion, China and Japan.

The 2 MWNP energy storage system, which is based on Belectric’s Energy Buffer System (EBS), uses lead acid technology. Given the rapid price declines of other competing technologies, such as li-ion, lead acid is becoming increasingly unpopular due to its shorter lifecycle and lower depth of discharge. Although, the upfront cost per kWh of lead acid is still significantly lower than li-ion (approximately half),  most now favour li-ion for large-scale applications as its superior performance characteristics will result in  lower total lifetime system cost.

Belectric has been one of the companies driving a major trend towards the use of 1500VDC in PV systems, due to the higher efficiencies and lower balance of system costs that can be achieved at higher voltages. It has also opted for a similar route with this energy storage system, citing that the high operating voltage of 1500V, means that that overall system cost can be lowered.

The energy storage system will not only directly smooth the output of the PV system to improve its integration into the grid, it will also provide ancillary services by participating in the primary operating reserve market in Germany, in order to maximise the profitability of the system. Given the limited financial benefit of energy storage providing services solely to the PV system, also providing grid services in this way is likely to become increasingly common. To-date, deployment of utility-scale PV energy storage systems has been limited, however if this system proves to be successful, adoption of similar systems will accelerate.

More analysis from IHS: Energy Storage in PV Report - 2014

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