More Solar Energy in European Grids: ‘IElectrix’ Project

E.ON to Develop Mobile and Flexible Battery Storage Systems


As part of the EU-funded ‘IElectrix’ project, E.ON is working with partners to develop mobile and flexible battery storage systems (BESS). The goal behind this is to integrate new green power plants into the existing grid at short notice and at low cost, thus achieving rapid progress in the energy transition throughout Europe. On September 1, the third mobile storage system of this type was connected to the local distribution grid in Dúzs, Hungary.


“The expansion of renewables is a fundamental prerequisite for Europe to achieve its climate targets. Within the next decade, renewable energy capacities will grow as never before. However, existing networks have not been designed to meet these challenges when they were built. To bridge this gap, smart technologies for short-term flexibility are needed,” says Mark Ritzmann, Managing Director at E.ON Innovation. “In this respect, Dúzs and the other IElectrix sites, with their mobile storage units and use of digital technology, are real showcase projects for a sustainable energy future.”

Due to its geographical location, Dúzs offers optimal conditions for photovoltaics. Two large solar plants are already in operation locally. However, further renewables expansion has recently been slowed down because new plants exceed the available grid capacities. Mobile battery storage now makes it possible to further increase the share of renewable energy in the grid quickly and efficiently. The cost of such storage can be up to 80 percent less than the cost of conventional grid expansion. The time savings can amount to several years in some cases.

“The total installed capacity of solar power plants connected to the grid has grown by more than 17 times in the last 4 years in E.ON’s service area in Hungary alone. In the future, new capacity will be created in many places,” says Attila Kiss, CEO of E.ON in Hungary. “With our solutions, we want to help households and businesses benefit from this development and use local green power where it is generated. This strengthens local value creation and makes the switch to renewables more attractive.”

E.ON has already integrated two battery storage facilities into its grids as part of the IElectrix project: In Friedland in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in Zánka (Hungary), the facilities compensate for grid bottlenecks and ensure that green energy from the sun and wind can be used quickly and directly on site without immediate additional grid expansion. This significantly accelerates the energy transition at local level. The IElectrix partners are testing their concept at a total of five locations in countries with different regulatory requirements. The results are thus transferable to a wide variety of use cases throughout Europe.

 

Exploiting the potential of solar energy throughout Europe

On the path to a climate-neutral energy supply, solar energy is and will remain one of the most important building blocks. For example, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 18.2 gigawatts (GW) of new PV capacity were installed across Europe in 2020 – an 11 percent increase over the previous year. The European industry association SolarPower Europe expects the global solar sector to crack the terawatt mark by 2022.

At the same time, increasing decentralized and volatile energy generation poses major challenges for existing power grids. In order to make optimal use of electricity from solar and other renewable sources, the existing energy networks must become more flexible and intelligent. Over the next three years, E.ON will invest more than €7 billion in the German distribution networks alone. To ensure that grid expansion succeeds quickly and efficiently, mobile battery storage systems will become increasingly important. They will be used primarily where the amount of green electricity fed into the grid increases significantly in a short period of time, or where insufficient storage options and low grid capacities hinder integration. This will enable network operators to balance out volatility and maintain supply quality locally without having to rely on costly network expansions.

 

Advancing the energy transition together

IElectrix is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest research and innovation program. Within three and a half years, 15 project partners from eight EU countries and the distribution grid operator TATA Power DDL from India are jointly developing mobile storage systems as a fast and cost-effective solution to local challenges in the distribution grid. IElectrix is funded by the European Union with 7.9 million euros, the total project volume is 10.7 million euros. The consortium leader is the French distribution network operator ENEDIS supported by E.ON as the Technical Director.

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