Siemens Gamesa Begins Operating Electrothermal Energy Storage System

June 18, 2019 by Scott McMahan

In what they are calling a world's first, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) began operating its electric thermal energy storage system (ETES). For the opening ceremony, Siemens Gamesa CEO Markus Tacke and representatives of project partners Hamburg Energie GmbH and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), were joined by Energy State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Hamburg's First Mayor Peter Tschentscher to welcome the landmark achievement. According to the company, the unique storage technology allows cost-effective storage of large quantities of energy, thereby decoupling electricity generation and its use.

The heat storage facility, which was held a grand opening ceremony in Hamburg-Altenwerder, holds about 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock that it employs as an energy storage medium.

To store the energy, a resistance heater converts electrical energy converted into hot air, and with the aid of a blower, it heats the rock to 750°C. Then, when demand peaks, ETES utilizes a steam turbine for the re-electrification of the stored energy.

The company say that the ETES pilot plant can store up to 130MWh of thermal energy for a week. Also, the system's storage capacity remains constant throughout the charging cycles.

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Siemens Gamesa intends for the pilot plant to provide system evidence of the storage on the grid and to extensively test the eletrothermal technology. In a next step, the company plans to use this storage technology in commercial projects and scale up the storage capacity and power. The goal in the near future is to store energy in the range of several GWh. One gigawatt hour equates to the daily electricity consumption of about 50,000 households.

The local utility company Hamburg Energie and the Institute for Engineering Thermodynamics at Hamburg University of Technology are partners in the innovative Future Energy Solutions project. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy within the "6. Energieforschungsprogramm" research program. TU Hamburg researches the thermodynamic fundamentals of the energy storage technology used.

Simens Gamesa says, that by using standard components, it can convert decommissioned conventional power plants into green storage facilities (as a second-life option). Hamburg Energie will market the stored energy on the electricity market. The energy provider is developing flexible digital control system platforms for virtual power plants. Connected to such a virtual power plant digital control systems, the company contends that ETES can optimally store renewable energy at maximum yield.

"Decoupling generation and consumption of fluctuating renewable energy via storage is an essential contribution to implementing the energy system transformation. We, therefore, need cost-effective, efficient and scalable energy storage systems," demands Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.

"With the commissioning of our ETES pilot plant, we have reached an important milestone on the way to introducing high-performance energy storage systems. Our technology makes it possible to store electricity for many thousands of households at low cost. We are thus presenting an elementary building block for the further expansion of renewable energy and the success of the energy transition," says Markus Tacke, CEO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. The technology reduces costs for larger storage capacities to a fraction of the usual level for battery storage.