The rapid drop in solar module and plant prices, combined with the fact that it is now generally cheaper to generate power from photovoltaic installations than to purchase it from suppliers, is boosting the use of battery storage systems, as the cost savings create more scope for investing in supplementary storage solutions. This represents an attractive option since the feed-in tariff for solar power is steadily falling, making it possible to further increase self-consumption and turn a profit in the process. The latest examples of PV and energy storage combinations will be firmly planted in the spotlight at this year’s edition of ees Europe, the continent’s largest and most-visited exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems, which will take place in Munich from May 15–17, 2019 as part of the innovation hub The smarter E Europe.
Falling feed-in tariffs for solar power are prompting many operators of PV systems to explore how best to make use of their self-generated power in the future. That goes for smaller systems in private homes and for larger plants in industry and agriculture alike.
There may soon be a very simple answer to the question of which solution is the most profitable. This question is particularly relevant for the operators who will no longer receive feed-in tariffs under Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) starting in 2021. Initially, this will only affect a handful of trailblazers who invested in PV early on. But starting 2025 at the latest, a large number of systems will lose their subsidies. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analysis titled “Energyfacts: Old Photovoltaic Plants – End of Support in Sight”, starting in 2021, owners of typical rooftop systems on detached houses with a capacity of around 6 kW and 935 full-load hours per year will only be able to generate approximately 163 euros annually by selling electricity on the energy exchange. At the same time, they could save 533 euros per year if they use the electricity themselves. The savings turn out even greater if the PV system is combined with a storage system. So forward-thinking system operators should waste no time in exploring how they want to use the photovoltaic solar electricity that they generate cost-free once they are no longer eligible for feed-in tariffs.
Changing conditions benefit PV storage systems
“A PV storage system acts as an automatic cap on electricity prices,” says Dietmar Geckeler, both Owner and Managing Director of denersol and author of the German-language guide “Battery Storage Systems – A Guideline for Applications in Industry and Trade,” published in late 2018 together with the Franconian regional branch of the German Solar Energy Society (DGS). He explains: “Conditions are changing across the board in ways that benefit PV storage systems, including in commerce. And from 2025 onwards, thousands of commercial PV systems are going to reach the end of their eligibility for EEG feed-in tariffs every year. This is just the beginning for PV storage and the accompanying systems, and as they continue to develop they will enable much more widespread use of battery storage technology.”
Energy storage systems encourage innovative new business models
Dr. Alexander Hirnet, Technical Director at VARTA Storage in Germany, is also convinced that energy storage systems are the way forward: “Energy storage systems are extremely versatile and encourage the development of innovative business models. For example, providers of solutions using ‘new’ energies combine decentralized heat/power-generation units and PV installations with decentralized storage systems to supply customers with environmentally friendly energy. In other cases, private individuals with their own power generation systems feed excess energy into an account to be retrieved as needed. And there are also exciting business ideas based on operators digitally networking individual battery storage units to create decentralized large-scale storage systems.” Alexander Hirnet will be at the ees Europe Conference at the Internationales Congress Center München to moderate the session “Rewriting the Rules: Innovative Business Models in the Energy Storage Sector,” which will take place on May 14 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm.
Storage systems are increasingly being used in agriculture to optimize the many large PV systems already in operation in the sector. One good example is the pilot project on the site of the farming collective Hofgemeinschaft Heggelbach near Lake Constance. Scientists led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems are carrying out research into using farmland for agriculture and for photovoltaic energy generation simultaneously – sometimes known as agrivoltaics. The installation on the Heggelbach site has now been expanded to include a 150 kilowatt hour battery system, increasing the self-consumption of the solar power generated there to 70 percent. The principal aim of this development is to make the energy generated from agrivoltaics available particularly in the early evening when agricultural operations consume relatively high quantities of power.
ees Europe 2019 presents lucrative business ideas
These examples show what lucrative business models are emerging from the combination of PV and storage systems. You can learn all about today’s markets, technologies and future business models at ees Europe 2019, which will be held as part of The smarter E Europe – the innovation hub for empowering new energy solutions – from May 15 to 17, 2019 in Munich, alongside Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry, Power2Drive Europe, the international exhibition for charging infrastructure and electromobility, and EM-Power, the exhibition for the intelligent use of energy in industry and buildings. Alongside the exhibition, the ees Europe Conference will offer an in-depth, practical look at the use of battery storage systems for the energy world of the future.