Speakers’ Corner: E.ON, Christian Folke

This week, we continue our series where we ask our speakers 6 questions on Energy Storage, and share their answers with you. Today we are pleased to feature the answers from the Technology & Innovation Portfolio Manager of E.ON, Christian Folke. Enjoy!

What technical innovations in the field of energy storage have excited you the most- past and present?
Besides the already well-established power pumped storage plants we are impressed by a lot of new innovations in the field of energy storage today. This accounts especially for the development of new types of batteries and the take-off of the power to gas technology.

When will market conditions be right for large scale deployment of energy storage?
Large scale energy storage already exists in Europe by means of pumped storage plants. Currently market conditions do not provide an incentive for further extension or new build of storage capacities. In general, an energy transition will not be possible without energy storage facilities. Furthermore, the energy transition will be considerably more cost-effective with storage, as storage will make the system more efficient and will reduce the volume of conventional reserves which will need to be kept available. However, the way in which the configuration of international energy markets develops will define the energy storage facilities to be provided. It is up to society to decide about the speed of the energy transition and integration and expenditures for renewable energies.

What is the most important function that energy storage can provide in the grid right now?
This deviates significantly between different technologies. Whereas Power to Gas would be the preferred technology for seasonal storage of surplus renewable energy especially reducing curtailment of wind energy batteries are able to provide short term grid stabilisation services and integration of PV. Often services are combined to improve the business case. The overall aim is of course to help integrating intermitting renewable energy sources.

How essential will energy storage be in the future grid?
Storage is essential for energy supplies on the basis of renewable resources. Storage facilities cannot replace grid expansion but they add to the system the possibility of using energy, which has been generated, at a later date. This may be necessary, for example, in order to improve on-site utilization of power from photovoltaic systems. Storage is also important in the event of unfavourable wind situations in large geographic areas or a lack of sunlight, as well as for seasonal balancing purposes.
The one and only solution in energy transition is not available. It is more an efficient combination of flexible generation, grid extension, energy storage and demand side management.

Which topic or issue would you like the Forum delegates to really brainstorm and come up with an Action Plan that can help the industry in the future?
Existing support schemes for renewable energies which pay fixed feed-in tariffs independent of market prices and which transfer almost no responsibility to the plant operator are obstacles to the introduction of energy storage. Therefore all new renewable generators shall be balance responsible and existing units shall be incentivized to be balance responsible. This could mean a significant boost for the energy storage industry. A further benefit is, that storages of all size will be needed – PV at home will be equipped with small-scale storage. On-shore and off-shore wind parks need larger storage volumes. This will consequently lead to more competition in the storage area and lead to lower costs for the end consumer. However future market design will have to have a more market orientated remuneration of intermitting renewable energy generation meanwhile not stopping further development of renewables as a whole.

What experience does your organisation have with energy storage?
E.ON successfully owns and operates several pumped storage plants for about decades. In addition we own and operate major natural gas storage facilities. Moreover E.ON operates one of two compressed air energy storage plants worldwide.
Apart from the existing business, the main areas of special interest and development are battery storage and Power to Gas.
With batteries, container-sized domestic or regional units can be installed in a distributed configuration. Our lighthouse project in this area is SmartRegion Pellworm. The North Sea island of Pellworm is to become a model region for smart power networks and the local storage of electricity generated from renewable sources. The objective is to link power consumers with renewable generating facilities in such a way that the generation and use of electric power are harmonized more effectively.
Moreover we are currently taking into operation our Power to Gas plant in Falkenhagen, Germany. In future, this plant will allow the storage of wind power in the natural gas network. This is the first pilot plant of its type in the world, with an electrical capacity of 2 MW, covering the entire process from the receipt of wind power through to the injection of hydrogen into the natural gas network.

Christian Folke will be a panellist representing the utilities’ view at the The 6th Energy Storage World Forum on the Panel Discussion topic “Ownership: Who Should Be The Owner Of Storage? TSO/DSO vs. Market” on Tuesday, 23 April, 2013.


If you want to know more about this and other topics directly from end users of energy storage technologies join us at one of these annual events: The Energy Storage World Forum (Grid Scale Applications), or The Residential Energy Storage Forum, or one of our Training Courses.


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