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New accumulators for the energy turnaround
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Sufficient space:show photos
Renewable fuel gas can also be stored in the new natural gas accumulator located in Jemgum, East Frisia (Germany). (Photo: Wingas)
Conventional technology:show photos
Pump storage power plants pump water into reservoirs located on a higher level. If electricity is required, the water flows through downpipes and powers the turbines. (Photo: RWE)
Lots to do:show photos
In order to transport wind power south from coastal areas, new electricity routes must be constructed. (Photo: Eon Netz)
Previously, journalists, politicians and companies consulted the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, especially when they wanted to find out more about innovations in photovoltaic cell technology. Christopher Hebling, the divisional director of ISE's energy technology department, explains that now there is another reason: "We are receiving a growing number of enquiries about energy accumulators. The topic is becoming increasingly relevant." However, it will be a long time before the technologies, his institute is working to develop, are ready for series production. It is likely to take another few years until redox flow batteries are able to efficiently store electrical energy in chemical compounds, or until it is worthwhile converting water into petrol for cars using green electricity.
Indeed, the nuclear phase-out presents researchers and engineers with major challenges: Wind and solar electricity must be stored to guarantee a safe energy supply, since wind turbines and solar plants do not generate electricity in wind-free conditions or in darkness. It is therefore full steam ahead in the search for efficient energy storage technology. The initiative is on a huge scale: According to US market researcher Pike Research, by 2021, investments in energy accumulators will have reached around EUR 85 billion. Fifty per cent of storage requirements result from the need to integrate a fluctuating output, generated by renewable energy sources, into the electricity grid. "The market opens up many opportunities. Electricity providers, network operators and suppliers are all expanding their activities in the direction of energy storage," says Anissa Dehamna, an analyst at Pike.