Sixty German energy-storage projects have been singled out for a total of 200 million euros in research grants through 2014. The government is also mobilizing the state-owned bank, KfW Group, to provide low-interest loans to storage projects.
For Michael Specht, the solution to Germany’s future energy needs lies in a rectangular framework of steel pipes and valves the size of a VW campervan parked on the outskirts of Stuttgart.
“We’ll need this technology if we want to make Germany’s energy switch a success,” Specht, a head of department at the ZSW Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, said last month on a tour of the facility where the energy-storing device is based. “The question isn’t if it’ll be deployed, but when.”
Research is focusing on a major downside of renewables: unlike nuclear energy, solar panels and wind turbines leave consumers without power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. That makes storing energy key to their use.
“Electricity storage really is the holy grail for the German energy transformation,” Dieter Manz, the chief executive officer of Manz AG, a German engineering company interested in battery equipment technology, said in an interview. “There’s no way around it if we want to make things work.”
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