Solar with Storage Approaches Critical Mass in Germany

June 9, 2014


Following the trajectory of falling costs and increased deployment set by solar photovoltaic installation, Germany’s program to encourage development of energy storage technology is a wave about to break.


The solar energy storage system market in Germany is approaching a boom period, according to many analysts, with a rapid uptick in sales likely as the technology enters wider use.

The drive behind this boom is the simple fact that such systems are extremely practical for many people/purposes — most pay themselves off in only a few years, providing yet another way for renewable energy to help cut utility costs for homeowners.

With the recent surge in solar energy in the country — and the achievement of a new record high on May 11, 2014 (15 GW) — the time certainly does seem ripe for a solar energy storage boom.

The systems don’t just benefit the consumer, though. The grid benefits as well.

“Balancing supply with demand in the grid presents operators with a significant challenge and leads to market price fluctuations. That is where storage solutions come into play,” explains Tobias Rothacher, renewable energies manager at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

Low solar resource has not stopped Germany from leading the world in deployment.

Low solar resource has not stopped Germany from leading the world in deployment.

“Many solar installations will have paid for themselves in the next couple of years and some will soon reach the end of their 20-year feed-in tariff contract,” Rothacher, an advisor for international companies planning to invest in Germany, continues.

“With modern and cheaper battery technology now available, these owners are able to store excess power during the day instead of feeding it into the grid at low prices and buying it back at night when it is more expensive. This helps to reduce grid fluctuations and with feed-in tariffs set to fall this summer, it makes even more economic sense.”

EuPD, a leading market research firm, currently expects sales of solar energy storage systems in Germany to rise significantly in the next few years — up to 100,000 units a year in 2018, up from the 6,000 that sold in 2013.

Politicians in the country have begun to take note of his trend — with some even calling it an opportunity for Germany to return to being one of the leading battery manufacturers in the world.

“A number of factors are coming together that will lead to a boom in PV energy storage solutions in Germany,” concludes Rothacher.

According to recent figures from Germany, renewable energy has grown more than nuclear has declined over the last 12-13 years, as well as over the last five years (since the Fukushima accident). “Since 2014 is still a work in progress, we will have to restrict the analysis to the development between 2009 and 2013. For this particular time frame we get a score of 134.9 TWh for nuclear in 2009, which means a decline of 37.6 TWh until 2013… [and] 38.2 TWh of growth for wind and solar from 2009 to 2013. So the nuclear decline lost again, failing to beat the growth of renewable even when ruling out biomass for some reason (another 17.1 TWh growth in those four years).”

Fox News viewers will be the last to know.

8 Responses to “Solar with Storage Approaches Critical Mass in Germany”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    “instead of feeding it into the grid at low prices and buying it back at night when it is more expensive”

    Daytime power in Germany is cheaper than nighttime?

    • Yes. Solar acts as a peaker that follows the daytime load. There is so much, that wholesale prices are driven negative.

      the price drops off a cliff, diving even deeper than the price of electricity in the dead of night”

      Pumped storage at night no longer works because solar has reduced the need for storage, flattening the demand curve. Remember that when you hear claims that renewables need more storage. They don’t. Solar obviates day/ night storage. In some locations wind seasonally matches winter heating demand.

      The negative pricing is an economic indicator showing a storage possibility during the day. There is not much advantage from utility perspective, because there are few peaks to cover. On the other hand, this an opportunity for daytime EV charging, while cars are parked at work. Negative pricing could spur EV use, if the policy puts the right incentives in place.

  2. andrewfez Says:

    If you factor in the external costs of coal (what was it, like an 18 cents/kWh addition to one’s bill? I think that’s what the other article said), then solar and storage approach a US critical mass also.

  3. Right Andrew. Coal is an exercise in dumping your trash in your neighbors yard to avoid paying waste disposal costs.

  4. More on flattening daytime peak german demand with rooftop solar and proof the storage need is reduced. Pumped storage facilities can no longer buy night sell day.

  5. The real reason for storage is so that consumers can defend themselves against rising utility rates, the utility death spiral, that finds utilities trying to drop their mistakes (stranded asset costs ) on consumers. Witness Hawaii, where the regional PUC scolded the utilities, demanding they quit foot dragging on solar integration, and demand they dump their dated and expensive diesel. Not surprisingly, Hawaii
    Is expected to be the first to adopt renewables plus storage.
    “Commissioners say they were compelled to advance their own plan because HECO had failed to “develop a sustainable business model,” according to the white paper.”

    • andrewfez Says:

      BP restructured as a smaller company after the oil spill, and they are still profitable.

      You’d think a scale down would be good or uninteruptive for the consumer using utilities that own their plants – take a few coal plants offline, that’s less money being paid to keep ’em around. It’s as you said Christopher: the death spiral has more to do with investor’s $ (they trying to pass their haircut onto the consumer, Wall St. style) than actual consumer $.

  6. […] 2014/06/09: PSinclair: Solar with Storage Approaches Critical Mass in Germany […]

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