Interview on energy storage systems for cars and home use

Collaboration between innogy and Mercedes-Benz

Andreas Rückemann talks about energy storage systems at innogy’s Energy Efficiency Forum. Mercedes-Benz Energy makes batteries for cars, and now also for home use.

Two trail-blazers of the energy market transformation bundle their strengths: innogy and Mercedes-Benz Energy are working together in the area of energy storage systems. Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH, a subsidiary of Stuttgart automaker Daimler, is developing electricity storage systems for domestic use, which will make it possible to temporarily store electricity from home photovoltaic units. The systems are manufactured by nearby Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE, which has been making car batteries for Mercedes-Benz and smart since 2012. innogy is integrating the new products into its HomePower storage series. We talked with Dr. Andreas Rückemann, Head of Sales Europe for Mercedes-Benz Energy, about prospects and the motivation behind this new development.

Andreas Rückemann, why would an automaker manufacture its own batteries?

Rückemann: Electrification of the drive system will keep on growing, and batteries have a key role to play in this regard. When we launched ACCUMOTIVE in 2009, electric mobility was still in its infancy. But in just a few years from now, almost every car will involve some form of electrification. The battery is an integral part of a vehicle’s architecture, and also forms part of an overall system that constitutes a vehicle’s “intelligence”. Development, manufacturing and integration are therefore part of our core competencies.

Why are you now looking at domestic storage systems?

For us it’s a logical next step: at ACCUMOTIVE we have vast expertise with batteries for products that you could say represent a maximum level of safety: cars. A product developed for use in cars therefore already meets the best requirements for stationary use too. In terms of our product range, these storage systems are a completely logical extension: inductive charging technology and wall boxes for electric cars, the merging of electric mobility and photovoltaics … all of this has a connection with energy and energy storage systems.

And by diversifying, in other words, manufacturing different components, we are thinking beyond the automotive square, so to speak, to develop innovative new products that pursue a comprehensive approach and also make use of economies of scale that also offer benefits for electric mobility.

Employees in a laboratory environment at Mercedes-Benz Energy manufacture energy storage systems for electric cars and for home use.

So is Daimler going to become an energy company?

Daimler is and will remain an automobile company, but is “thinking beyond the car” when it comes to intelligent products and services. The solar carport with a storage system and charging point, for example. Or on an industrial scale with an eye to grid stabilisation. We have already made a start on a couple of projects in this area. Demand for electricity is expected to keep on growing – not least because of the constant growth in the number of electric vehicles on our roads. You just need to think it through from our perspective.

How far does the collaboration with innogy extend?

We have an interest in strong partnerships that will result in the most meaningful combination of our respective skills. We are already working together on a number of projects relating to electric mobility: we complement each other well when it comes to domestic storage systems, and that means we are working together to make the energy market transformation a success. Collaborative arrangements like this are very important to us, since the best contact for the end customer is always the expert in the field. That’s why our Mercedes-Benz energy storage systems will also be available via innogy HomePower storage from next year.

 

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