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Feature: German battery capacity to reach 700 MW this year

London β€” Germany's rapidly growing battery market was expected to reach 700 MWstorage capacity this year with large utility-scale projects set toalmost double, according to data by storage lobby group BVES.

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* Utility-scale batteries to double to 323 MW by end-2018

* Home battery storage forecast to reach 385 MW

* Lobby estimates market volume above Eur3 billion

With 15 projects currently under construction, some 323 MW of largeutility-scale battery projects were forecast to be operational by the endof 2018 with another 110 MW to be realized early next year, according toa recent BVES presentation.

In addition, the home battery storage market has continued to surge withsome 385 MW of home battery systems forecast online by the end of 2018,up from 280 MW by end-2017 across 85,000 individual home units, it said,based on market research by consultancy Team Consult.

Annual volumes for solar home battery system have more than tripled since2015 when Tesla launched its Powerwall, a wall-mounted battery storagesystem in combination with a solar roof.

At the same time, costs for battery system have halved since 2014, solarlobby group BSW said last week, adding that every other solar-roofinstalled now came with a battery system, receiving additional subsidies.

Average household battery systems have storage capacity of around 4 kW,enough to meet the electricity needs of a 3-4 person family duringevening and night hours.

Utility-scale batteries are primarily used for the balancing market, withmany projects now in the above 10 MW range.

INCREASINGLY LARGER BATTERIES

Germany's largest single battery storage project, a 48 MW li-ion batterysystem at Jardelund near the border with Denmark announced last year, wason track for commissioning in the second quarter.

A similar project primarily intended for the German balancing market isto be developed by UK-based RES Group at Bordesholm. The 10 MW facilitywas expected to have an annual planned income of around Eur1 million($1.2 million), the developer said in January.

Germany, with its volatile portfolio of wind and solar set to reach the100 GW mark this spring, is seen as key in developing battery storagesystems with especially northern and eastern Germany facing gridstability issues amid large fluctuations in wind power output.

Energy storage lobby group BVES has said the government should specifyhow it planned to integrate storage solutions into the power market byimproving access to the balancing market as well as cutting grid usagefees for such installations.

POWER-TO-GAS NOT VIABLE AS YET

BVES estimated the current market volume for battery storage in Germanyat around Eur3 billion including heat storage and power-to-gasapplications, which at 20 MW still lag behind.

However, Shell and UK-based ITM Power plan to build the world's largesthydrogen electrolysis plant at the Rhineland refinery in Germany with acapacity of 10 MW and a total investment of around Eur20 million. Theproject is scheduled to be in operation in 2020.

Germany's biggest operating power-to-gas unit -- a 6 MW unit EnergieparkMainz at Hechstheim -- last week secured its long-term future, withStadtwerke Mainz continuing to operate the project following a pilotproject by Linde and Siemens since 2015 financed by Eur17 millions ofresearch grants to develop the technology.

According to the developers, current framework conditions for thistechnology were not enough to make it economic viable.

Economic framework conditions were also challenging for Germany's biggestpower storage technology with hydro pump-storage capacity accounting forover 6,300 MW capacity, according to the storage lobby.

The key challenge for pump-storage is the power grid, with the storagereservoirs often located far from wind-rich coasts.

Germany's power grid expansion lagging behind rapid wind growth createsbottlenecks and lifts grid fees, reducing the margins of those plantsamid flattening peakload/offpeak ratios. --Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

--Edited by Daniel Lalor, newsdesk@spglobal.com