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Younicos, Samsung Build Battery Parks in Germany

Peter Asmus — June 2, 2013

The motto of Berlin-based microgrid vendor Younicos is “Let the fossils rest in peace.”  In a previous blog, I discussed the practical viability of creating 100% renewable energy systems, including microgrids.  Younicos is among the companies that purport to be able to create such systems, thanks to the robustness of its smart bi-directional inverter, which eliminates the need for a fossil prime mover within a microgrid, and to careful selection of appropriate energy storage technologies.

While the company’s microgrid efforts are focused primarily on remote systems ‑ such as the 3 MW pilot project on the Portuguese island of Graciosa, designed to achieve 75% renewable generation ‑ the company has also recently marked several major milestones with grid-tied applications, some of which also feature the ability to disconnect from the wider grid.

Younicos has already deployed a 1.2 MW battery park for the Swedish utility Vattenfall in Berlin, which has been providing grid balancing services since December 2012, the first grid-tied system prequalified to provide frequency response in Europe.  Frequency response is a vital ancillary service in regions where the high penetration of renewables places stress on power quality.  This initial hybrid battery park project relies upon both sodium sulphur and lithium ion battery technologies.

Replacing Fossil Fuels

Last month, on Earth Day, the company announced a major partnership with Samsung SDI to deploy Samsung’s lithium ion battery in projects with an exclusive system integrator agreement for grid-tied battery parks in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other European markets.  With Samsung SDI providing a unique 20-year performance guarantee, the new partnership will soon have bragging rights to the first standalone 5 MW/5 MWh battery park in Germany for WEMAG, a municipal utility serving West-Mecklenburg that currently relies upon wind and solar for 80% of its power generation.  Ideal for addressing the volatile nature of distributed renewables that rely upon feed-in tariffs, the system is expected to be commissioned in June 2014.

This enhanced battery park will be able to not only adjust the frequency of the utility grid, but also provide voltage control, black starts, and short circuit power, services previously provided inefficiently by fossil generation sources.  In fact, the battery parks can respond to grid signals in less than 10 milliseconds, which is 3,000 times faster than conventional approaches.

According to Samsung and Youncios, the ideal size for these battery parks is actually 10 MW/10 MWh, and they can be financed solely on the basis of revenues from frequency regulation and other ancillary services.  This is yet another new business model for smart grid/microgrid applications, providing further evidence that high-penetration renewable energy systems are grounded in real demand from emerging markets for grid reliability services.

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