Battery Storage Targeted by German State That Built Solar

Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt state, once the home of the biggest solar cell production plants, now seeks growth from another new industry: Energy storage.

South Korea’s SK Innovation Co Ltd will help build a 5-megawatt battery unit in Halle, and later a 30-megawatt storage device in Magdeburg, State Premier Reiner Haseloff said, citing agreements struck during his recent trip to the Asian country. SK supplied technology for a 1-megawatt unit with 5,000 lithium-ion battery cells that was successfully tested today at Magdeburg’s Fraunhofer IFF research institute.

“This was just the first step. We have many renewable energy plants here and often generate more electricity than we need,” Haseloff said he had joined in pressing a red button to start the battery device, which is housed in a container in a parking lot at the Fraunhofer. “So far that power has been given away, and that’s lost money.”

Energy storage is key to ensure the success of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s switch from nuclear energy to renewables such as solar and wind, said Haseloff, a scientist like Merkel and one of her close party allies. Batteries can protect the grid and prevent network operators from shutting down wind turbines and solar plants in times of excess supply by instead storing the power, he said.

Companies in the state used to lead production of solar cells until Q-Cells SE filed for insolvency. It was eventually bought by a Chinese company, Hanwha SolarOne Co. Now, those in Saxony will be able to market systems that combine generation with technology that makes electric grids more efficient and battery storage, Haseloff said.

“We want to develop these systems out of Saxony-Anhalt and lead in that regard,” he said.

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