Recharge your Batteries
Energy Storage: With the unveiling of Tesla’s Powerwall, global media has woken up to the potential of combining domestic photovoltaic systems with battery storage. Yet in Germany the revolution is already well underway.
Companies such as Sonnen, Deutsche Energieversorgung, SMA, Solarwatt, and E3/DC have installed more than 30,000 energy storage systems in German households. Now German car manufacturers are getting in on the act: the Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive brings expertise to the market and BMW has launched a collaboration with Solarwatt.
The growth has been remarkable: annual household battery installations increased from around 3000 in 2013 to almost 20,000 in 2015. There has been a ten-fold increase in cumulative installations in two years – outstripping even the most optimistic predictions.
“The business case for battery storage is becoming ever more compelling,” says Tobias Rothacher, solar and battery storage expert at Germany Trade & Invest. “Research suggests Germany could see more than 100,000 photovoltaic battery system installations by 2018.”
Solar Panel | © Solarwatt
German households receive a fixed 20-year tariff for electricity they sell to the grid. For new systems, the tariff has fallen to 12.31 euro cents per kWh. With electricity from the grid now costing around 29 ct/kWh, selling power to the grid and buying it back later no longer makes sense once equipment costs are factored in.
The solution is to use more power from the panels and less from the grid. Families are often at work or school when the sun is strongest. It is not until the evening that appliances get used, fridges opened, and TVs watched. For an average rooftop system, an own-consumption rate of 30-40 percent is normal. With battery storage, households can use power generated during the day at other times, in most cases enabling own-consumption rates of 60-80 percent.
Energy Storage System | © Senec
A MARKET SET TO SOAR
New sales are already skyrocketing and innovative leasing models and system configurations are being introduced. Adding storage to existing panels also makes sense, especially those installed between 2009 and 2012 for which the government still pays a bonus for own-consumption. And with more than one million photovoltaic systems exiting the 20-year feed-in tariff by 2033, the retrofit market will also develop in the coming years.
A number of unique incentives are available for photovoltaic-battery systems in Germany. The state-owned KfW development bank has reintroduced a financing scheme that provides attractive loans and repayment grants of 25 percent on eligible costs, sinking to 10 percent by the end of 2018. Generous local programs are also available, such as SAGA in Dusseldorf, which offers a EUR 500 grant for a typical household solar installation and covers 20 percent of the gross cost of battery storage. Additionally, in certain cases in Bavaria, the “10,000 Roofs” scheme offers up to EUR 8,000 for a household solar installation that includes energy storage.
Germany provides an excellent environment for companies to develop and refine new storage solutions and it actively welcomes international enterprises seeking to participate in this rapidly developing market. Businesses investing here also stand to benefit from the dense landscape of world-leading research institutes and universities that cooperate with the energy storage industry to bring innovations and new technical standards to the market, often with government support.