Sector-coupling low-cost giga-storage technology enables efficient electricity and heat supply using local renewable sources.

A new steel-based thermal energy storage technology is being trialled in Berlin demonstrating how electricity and heat can be supplied cost-efficiently from regional renewable energy sources.

The 2.4 Megawatt-hour (MWh) pilot project run by utility Vattenfall Energy Solutions, housing society Gewobag and the energy storage start-up Lumenion will store regional generation peaks from wind and solar electricity and later provide the clean energy as heat and electricity.

“We want to demonstrate how well our steel-storage technology is suited to effectively store large amounts of wind and solar energy”, says Alexander Voigt, founder and managing director of Lumenion.” Our team has been working on renewable energy for more than 30 years and energy storage for over 10 years. From this experience, we deliberately chose steel as the storage medium for the coming second phase of the energy transition. “

The Lumenion technology stores generation peaks for less than 2 €-cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) both cost and space-efficiently as heat at a temperature level of up to 650° Celsius. This heat can be reconverted into both power and heat using a turbine – or used entirely in the form of heat.

As co-founder of Solon, Q-Cells and Younicos, Alex Voigt has previously already helped industrialise solar energy and integrate battery storage into the energy market.

Hanno Balzer, Managing Director of Vattenfall Energy Solutions GmbH: “Decentralized systems and energy storage are key factors in the energy transition. Heat is a particularly cost-effective form of storage. If then the stored energy can be used not only as heat, but also in the form of electricity, this is a milestone. We are getting a lot closer to this milestone with the trial of this high-temperature storage system!”

Karsten Mitzinger from Gewobag Energie- und Dienstleistungsgesellschaft adds: “The energy transition will succeed only if it’s decentralised and in partnership with many actors. As a housing association, we make our contribution to climate protection in our neighbourhoods. At the same time, we are very pleased to showcase the good cooperation between an energy supplier, a municipal housing association and an innovative start-up with this project. Only together can we master the great challenges of the energy transition.”

In the pilot project a 2.4 MWh steel-block is being tested for commercial use and put into regular operation. To this end, the unit will be integrated with Vattenfall Energy Solutions’ existing gas-fired CHP plant for district heating for Gewobag’s 1970s multi-story apartment building. The system will store peaks and feed them into the heat supply when needed. In a second step, a reconversion to both electricity and heat is also planned.

Parallel to the construction of the pilot project, Lumenion is testing a 450 kWh prototype on the campus of the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) in Berlin. HTW supports Lumenion with practical accompanying research. 

Lumenion plans to install storage facilities with capacities of 40 MWh and even 1,400 MWh as next milestones. These giga storage systems will be able to integrate large amounts of wind and solar power generation into the existing grids in a particularly cost-effective, efficient and demand-oriented manner, thus enabling a significant acceleration of the energy transition.

Berlin, 22 October 2018

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