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%.

Clean energy transition

Construction on the M5BAT project was announced by E.ON on the same day as the company’s half-year earnings report.

On a conference call with journalists,  E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen said the company’s transition into two seperate entities was going well.

E.ON is turning its focus onto renewables, while the spinoff company Uniper, will focus on conventional energy businesses.

Teyssen said the switch reflected an evolving energy market. He said: “The fundamental changes affecting energy markets are accompanied by a growing realization of the need for climate protection, and at E.ON as well. Relative to a 1990 baseline, we’ve reduced the carbon intensity of our power generation in Europe by 35%.

He added that a global treaty agreed in Paris in December would be a ‘big opportunity’ for his company.

“Greater emphasis on climate protection would be good for E.ON’s growing renewables and distributed-energy solutions and for Uniper’s technologically advanced gas-fired power plants and energystorage solutions, which will be needed for decades to come to support the energy system.”

Brad Allen

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