Westnetz, an innogy subsidiary, is testing a special kind of battery system in Wettringen, near Münster, Germany. The system can store an amount of energy that is equivalent to what is stored in around 2,000 car batteries. The battery storage system helps compensate for the fluctuating volume of green electricity that is fed into the grid. There are many photovoltaic systems in the region that produce a large volume of electricity, particularly at midday on sunny days. This energy can now be fed into the batteries, which obviates the need to expand the local grid to store surplus power. The energy stored in the batteries can then be fed back into the grid on cloudy days or at times of high demand. Westnetz is drawing on its experience with the test facility to further improve the economic viability of such storage solutions.
The sun, wind and other renewables are playing an increasingly important role as sources of energy. Our energy systems need to become more flexible as renewables generate an increasing share of our electricity. This means that powerful storage systems are becoming increasingly crucial.
Renewable energy sources not only protect the environment, they also call for completely new, smart solutions. While solar power systems and wind turbines can already meet all of Germany’s energy needs on sunny and stormy days, these systems only produce a fraction of the required power if the sky is cloudy and the weather is calm.
This is why innogy is examining the exact changes that are needed to facilitate the energy transition and determining the specific requirements that energy storage systems need to meet. These storage systems need to precisely adapt to specific requirements and play very different roles on a case-by-case basis.
innogy is conducting research to find out what the ideal combination of features is for storage systems, as part of the ‘Energy systems and storage’ project. We investigate a large range of systems, from single-family houses through to the nationwide energy system in Germany. We run computer simulations to determine, for example, where it would be useful to deploy energy storage systems and what features these systems should have. innogy frequently implements such projects to investigate specific questions relating to energy storage.
We need to consider the bigger picture relating to energy systems in order to create smart solutions for the energy transition. We need to determine how we can effectively network different application areas that require energy, such as lighting, heating, transport and industry. This approach is called ‘sector coupling’, and involves, for example, using electric cars for power storage or reusing waste heat to supply heat.
Research projects energy storage
Innogy is testing how excess power from wind turbines can be efficiently stored in its power-to-gas pilot plant in Ibbenbüren near Osnabrück. The idea is to link the power and gas network together, using the existing natural gas infrastructure as a giant battery facility.
With the aid of an electrolysis system, excess power supplied by wind turbines is then used to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen via an electro-chemical process. The hydrogen produced in this way is then fed into the natural gas network. During periods of low renewable power generation, the stored gas can then be taken from the storage devices and, for instance, fed back into the Ibbenbüren cogeneration plant.
We demonstrated to thousands of people how the energy transition can work out successfully also on water. Our MS innogy is quiet and carbon-neutral when cruising on Lake Baldeney. It is powered by green methanol.