E.ON begins construction of giant 5MW battery

Posted: August 20, 2015 by oldbrew in Energy
Tags: ,

Risky business [image credit: safetysource.co.nz]

Risky business [image credit: safetysource.co.nz]

Some might query whether 5 megawatts is ‘giant’ in terms of national electricity demand, and the usual claims that battery costs are going to drop like a stone are made, but nevertheless this attempt at an energy storage system is happening, as edie.net reports.

German energy company E.ON has started constructing the world’s first modular large-scale battery in the German town of Aachen.

The modular aspect of the design means that various battery technologies can be ‘plugged in’ to the system – a world-first for a battery of this size.

The system, known as M5BAT, will be housed in a former office building that is being converted specially for the installation. In total, the batteries and other components of the storage system will stretch over two floors and the roof, covering around 500 m² of floor space.

M5BAT is backed by a €6.7 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”.

E.ON said the system represents an important building block for the expansion of renewable energies.

“Large battery storage systems are particularly interesting thanks to their flexible possibilities for use,” said Bernhard Reutersberg, chief markets officer on the E.ON Board of Management.

“The findings expected from M5BAT are of value for the entire energy industry, particularly as a means of support on the path towards low-CO2 power generation.”

Sector surge

In a Tesla earnings call last week, Elon Musk said that large-scale storage (specifically Tesla’s 1MW Powerpack system) could theoretically shut down half of the world’s power plants.

He said the Powerpack would allow power plants to buffer – i.e. operate at the average energy demand, storing energy at periods of low demand, then releasing it at peak demand.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) released a report last week claiming there will be an international ‘megashift’ towards energy storage within the next 10 years as the cost of batteries falls by up to 60%.

Full report: E.ON begins construction of giant 5MW battery.

Avoiding thermal runaway would be good. Wonder what the local fire brigade thinks of it.

  1. tchannon says:

    What journalist wrote that linked article!
    5MW has no meaning in the context of a battery.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Well, they’re at it again here.

    ‘Tesla has announced that the first of its utility-scale Powerpack battery systems will be deployed in Ireland next year, under a new deal with energy storage firm Gaelectric.
    The 1MW pilot system is said to be the first in a series of battery projects designed to help integrate renewable energy sources into the Irish grid.’


    Do they mean megawatt hours? Answer: yes (in German).

    ‘Dabei ist der Speicher für eine Gesamt-Speicherkapazität von ca. 5 Megawattstunden (MWh) ausgelegt.’

  3. tchannon says:

    I should have added a smiley, I was amused, journos… cheap work using promotional plants.

    5MWh = 131 US gallons of fuel oil (aka diesel) + whatever is a sensible conversion efficiency in both cases. (or 0.711 coal tons)

    The capacity is just a part of the whole. What’s the output rate?

    Now lets see the converters. Hear about their service life. Get electrical storms there do they?
    (reminds me of the , okay lets say underwear test,, remove safety devices, place in containment cabinet, prepare, fire an artificial bolt of lightning, blinding flash, distant crump, check for fragments and the fire self extinguishes, what you use has been through that, now the big boys distribution… I really don’t want to know)

    What happens when someone fires an RPG into the building, secure location is it?

    Anyway, what the article omits to say.

    “As of 2007, 165 MW of capacity were installed in Japan, and NGK has announced in 2008 a plan to expand its NaS factory output from 90 MW a year to 150 MW a year.[13] (Source in Japanese, but with some pictures.)

    Xcel Energy has announced that it will be testing a wind farm energy storage battery based on twenty 50 kW sodium–sulfur batteries from NGK Insulators Ltd of Japan. The 80 tonne, 2 semi-trailer sized battery is expected to have 7.2 MW·h of capacity at a charge and discharge rate of 1 MW.[14]”
    — I have no reason to doubt this

    As usual a lot of the early NaS work was done in England, CPSL, AEA Harwell pre AEAT, BR. Spinoff from nuclear reactor work, hot containment, metallurgy, etc.

    We owe the practical lithium cell to Harwell too. (and the patents keeping cost high)

    Germany will have many suitable locations for pumped storage.

  4. That’s a lot of money for the equivalent of 5000 car batteries.

    The floor space requirement of 500 m² is surprising.

  5. oldbrew says:

    ‘Elon Musk said that large-scale storage (specifically Tesla’s 1MW Powerpack system) could theoretically shut down half of the world’s power plants.’

    Theoretically perhaps, but in reality? It would take tens of thousands of them just for the UK, millions even.
    1 MW is peanuts in a national grid system.

    ‘M5BAT is backed by a €6.7 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’

    More than €1 million per megawatt hour capacity and that’s just the support grant.

  6. Keith Willshaw says:

    5 MWh represents less that 1% of the power output of a single large turbine generator. The simple fact is that battery technology is nothing like good enough to make such a system good enough let alone affordable. Actually they’d do better installing an underground flywheel based system.

  7. Fanakapan says:

    Nothing really has changed in the 40 or so years since I was at school, and the science teacher proclaimed that ‘You cant store electricity, except by very inefficient penny packets’.

    Still labouring under the idea than humanity gets cleverer with the passing of time gets harder when one sees such Hucksterism as outlined in the OP 🙂

  8. oldbrew says:

    Keith Willshaw: there’s a flywheel system on trial in Ireland.

    Here’s a UK version of battery storage (not modular), described as 6MW/10MWh – work that one out, maybe it’s a range of 6-10 MWh.

  9. Gail Combs says:

    Fanakapan says: “….Still labouring under the idea than humanity gets cleverer with the passing of time gets harder….”

    Actually humans are losing brain mass and Maurice Strong is suggesting a major decrease in meat eating is needed (to make us even dumber and more docile?) The USA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) just came up with the recommendation that America Should Adopt a ‘Plant-Based’ Diet. So the PhD’s on that committee are following the mandate of a guy who never graduated from high school.

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?
    Here are some leading theories about the why the human brain has been getting smaller since the Stone Age.

    Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement

    For the last 10,000 years, since the development of farming, the human brain has been shrinking. The human brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimetres (cc) to 1,350cc, irrespective of gender and race as humans have switched from a meat based to a plant based more sedentary (and more mind numbing) lifestyle.

    Time to take a hard look at the koala bear. The koala bear also switched to a sedentary lifestyle and a low-energy diet of eucalyptus leaves. As a result major brain shrinkage has been seen in the modern koala which now has a skull that is filled with 40% cerebrospinal fluid.

    The fact that batteries and wind power and even solar power is OLD technology and yet the MSM is trying to make us think it is ‘New and cutting edge’ with a lot more to be ‘discovered’ show just how stupid they think the Great Unwashed** are.

    Solar technology timeline

    I have not seen any really innovative discoveries that make a ‘great leap forward’ and given the physical restraints on all three I don’t think more than incremental advances are possible. Batteries – maybe, solar and wind? No way.
    ** the term for us serfs that is used in the Bilderberg meetings according to Dan Estulin.

  10. oldbrew says:

    Don’t expect battery advances in a hurry…

    ‘But here’s a safe bet: Breakthroughs in energy storage technology aren’t coming. Not in the foreseeable future, at least. That’s because it takes years to convert “breakthroughs” in the lab into something that works at scale, under all the conditions of real life use. And the overwhelming majority of innovations don’t survive the process.’

    ‘It turns out that storing energy safely and reliably is hard in a way that miniaturizing circuits is not. A pound of gasoline contains more than 20 times as much energy as a pound of lithium-ion batteries. And then there’s the expense: The battery pack in a Tesla Model S costs approximately $30,000.’

    Not to mention the weight of such a pack.

  11. Glenn999 says:

    “For the last 10,000 years, since the development of farming, the human brain has been shrinking–as humans have switched from a meat based to a plant based more sedentary (and more mind numbing) lifestyle.”
    Thanks for the link
    makes one think….

  12. Dave Ward says:

    Putting my late fathers structural engineer hat on, I would be asking searching questions about the weight of all those batteries and equipment. An office building doesn’t sound the sort of place for this project.

  13. dscott says:

    Not discussed, the effective recovery rate of comparing the amount of electricity to charge said battery versus the amount one can effectively discharge. Last time I checked you never get the same amount of amps or watts out of a battery that you put in. So they are effectively adding an inefficiency via storage that hopefully is not greater than the amount to be saved during partial load of original production at night.

    This methodology is only useful in terms of peak shaving where under ultilized electrical capacity at night is shifted forward to avoid building extra electric generators to meet peak demand during the daytime as a means to save capital costs NOT increase energy efficiency.

    Of course every idea looks great if you cherry pick the solution ignoring it’s costs. In other words this is just another Green Scam (ala a past Batman vs Catwoman & Penguin movie where Max Shreck, evil industrialist is trying to scam Gotham with a huge capacitor electrical storage scheme). Life imitating art?

    Incidental but also significant over time, as you know, if you fully charge a battery, over time it discharges even without a load.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Bottom line – just expensive window-dressing to try and make renewables look ‘reliable’ or something.