Energy Storage: Full self-reliance is possible

10/12/17, 11:00 AM -

PV Guided Tours: The market for domestic storage is developing quite rapidly – and not only in Germany. So it is not surprising that our Guided Tours at the Intersolar and EES Europe were received so well.

Distributor Krannich Solar offers the modular energy storage system Axíflex.
Distributor Krannich Solar offers the modular energy storage system Axíflex.

Great times in Munich. The storage sector is bursting with self-confidence. And with our PV Guided Tours we made a contribution to the success of both the Intersolar and the EES Europe that was appreciated by many visitors. The numbers: While we guided 229 specialists around the exhibition halls last year, this time round it was actually 367.

The level of competence of the visitors was as high as could be expected: For their part, the exhibitors that we featured in our ten tours per day – once each in English and in German – were very happy with the amount of interest that manifested itself not only in many well-founded questions that were asked.

“Many competent experts in two hours”

The participants in the PV Guided Tours repeatedly full of praise for this outstanding concept. One Bavarian solar technician said it best: “As part of these tours I meet as many competent experts at the stands in two hours as otherwise during the entire day. We are expected and are given information that is exclusively for us. That is perfect.”

As was the case last year, our tour on domestic storage was particularly well received. Anytime we arrived at a stand with a large number of interested experts in tow, the product managers and contact persons of that company would beam from ear to ear. And why not: What can be greater for an exhibitor than to see all the efforts come to fruition because one’s stand is literally overrun with visitor?

Varta is broadening its product range

The storage tours start out at Varta Storage, just across the isle of photovoltaik’s stand. The storage subsidiary of the Ellwangen-based battery manufacturer is focussing on design, system integration and assembly of stationary lithium ion-based battery systems for private households. They also offer large-scale storage for commercial customers. The contact person at Varta’s stand was Michael Gopp. He told the participants of the PV Guided Tours about the new domestic storage units between three and 13,8 kilowatt hours.

Varta Pulse was presented for the first time at the Intersolar. It is a small wall-mounted storage unit for private homes. It will be available in two capacities: 3.3 and 6.5 kilowatt hours. Dimensioned at 60 by 69 by 19 centimetres, it is extraordinarily compact. The Varta Pulse 3 weighs 45 kilograms, while the larger Varta Pulse 6 comes in at 65 kilograms.

Furthermore, Varta presented their new Varta Element 12 with 13.8 kilowatt hours of storage capacity. It integrates the battery, the inverter and the battery control system into one unit, and is an extension of the well-known Element series. The smaller Element 3 and 6 will continue to be modularly expandable – depending on the needs of the customer.

Krannich is getting into storage

The second halt was at the stand of Krannich Solar, the specialist retailer from Weil der Stadt near Stuttgart. Magnus Lehrieder is head of sales and the back office. He presented storage solutions be Fronius, Kostal, LG Electronics, SMA and Solaredge as well as the battery systems by Axitec Energy, BYD, LG Chem and Mercedes. Capacities range from 2.5 kilowatt hours up to 1,224 kilowatt hours in the Axiflex-Multicluster.

One highlight was the BYD B-Box H, a scalable high-voltage battery with uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Also on show was the high-performance storage system Axistorage for domestic, e-mobility and commercial applications. The system can be scaled from 6.8 up to 82 kilowatt hours. According to the manufacturer, the optimised cooling system extends the service life to as much as 20 years.

For intelligently charging the battery of an EV, Krannich recently added the Amtron wall box by Mennekes to their range. The combination with storage systems such as the Axistorage Li and the BYD B-Box makes it possible to efficiently increase the amount of self-consumption of solar electricity.

Baywa r.e.: Partner of the specialists

At the Baywa r.e. stand, Andreas Reischl takes over the microphone. He is head of product management at the specialist wholesaler from southern Germany. BayWa r.e. see themselves as an all-round service provider, partner of the specialists and project developer with more than 25 years of experience.

Andreas Reischl explained a selection of storage systems by renowned manufacturers such as LG Chem, Mercedes-Benz, LG Electronics, BYD, Varta and SMA. The broad portfolio includes both AC and DC solutions as well as systems capable of being extended and retrofitted, culminating in electric mobility. “It is crucial to be as close as possible to what the customers require,” Andreas Reischl said. “This is what our competent specialists are for. They support the technicians in planning and customer service.”

BayWa r.e. also offers the free online tool Solar Planit that allows the dimensioning of an entire PV installation – including storage and a calculation of profitability.

Fronius: Storage battery and Stirling generator

The Austrian storage provider Fronius was all about their Energy Package. “This consists of an inverter, the high-voltage battery and the bidirectional Fronius Smart Meter, which makes it possible to keep a clear record of power usage in the Fronius Solar Web,” Michael Schubert from the sales team explains.

In order to remain self-reliant in case of high power demand or in the winter, the user can augment the installation with a pellet heating system by Ökofen that includes a Stirling generator. It generates electricity while the heating system is in operation. Using solar and pellets, the operator can thus completely produce their own electricity.

At the core of this storage solution is Fronius’ inverter Symo Hybrid. Its Multiflow technology makes it possible to directly connect a solar array, run other AC generators and charge a battery using grid power. A wide range of interfaces are available for other applications. For instance, in Munich, Fronius presented a Loxone charge point for integrating EVs.

Innogy presented smart solutions

The Intersolar 2017 was the first time for Innogy, the youngest subsidiary of RWE, as the company has only been founded in the autumn of 2016. Carsten Welge is product manager for photovoltaics and electricity storage for end customers, and among others he talked about the Innogy Smart Home system. It gets more output out of PV arrays by using SMA inverters: Rather than reducing the power generation down to 70 or 50 percent in case of too much solar irradiation as is common, it automatically connects other units that have been integrated into the system – including storage batteries.

However, that depends on the inverters being equipped with a Speedwire interface. For example, Mercedes-Benz’ energy storage units that use an SMA Sunny Island as the battery inverter, can be controlled this way and also integrated into the app. These new functions time-shift the self-consumption, and thereby also increase it. And: The dynamic output control makes it possible to generate more power.

RCT Power: Fast installation and commissioning

The next port of call of the PV Guided Tours was the stand of RTC Power. Many of the staff and the CEO Thomas Hauser were formerly with Sunways AG, which was later taken over by SF Suntech.

Klaus Richter is in charge of sales. He explained what RCT’s motto “Re-thinking storage systems” means: Batteries used to be bulky, heavy and used thick cables. Installing them took a long time and it was difficult to adapt their capacities to the requirements of the operator. They took a long time to charge and were too inefficient.

“We have recognised all of these disrupting factors and developed an innovative solution for them,” Klaus Richter says. “The result is a flexible and reliable storage system whose selling points are quality, efficiency and simplicity.”

The high-voltage battery unit is made up of three to six modules. Thanks to plug-and-play slots, it can be installed and commissioned quickly. RTC’s technology makes it possible to combine the storage system with any type of battery. “Compared to conventional compact systems, design, installation and maintenance are much much simpler,” Klaus Richter explains.

Akasol meets automotive standards

Markus Michelberger was waiting at the Akasol stand. He is head of the department for stationary and maritime storage systems. His company develops and produces mobile and stationary battery systems for use in, among others, the automotive or shipping industries.

Akasol had brought two lithium ion storage units with them to Munich: The Neeo Basix is compact and very simple to operate. In addition to a “high degree of safety”, Akasol guaranty “a long service life” and grants a ten-year warranty. Neeo Basix includes a three-phase inverter and the capacity can be extended from 6.5 to 13 kilowatt hours.

The Neeo System Business is a storage system that meets commercial requirements. It was conceived for larger private homes and commercial applications. The technology that meets all the safety standards of the automotive industry has, according to the manufacturer, a service life of 20 years and makes it possible to charge the battery very fast. The integrated energy management system supervises all functions and ensures an efficient and safe operation. External control and charging an EV are also possible.

Solarwatt is cooperating with BMW, Bosch and Eon

At Solarwatt it is Axel Schiller who welcomes the participants of the PV Guided Tours. Their new My-Reserve Matrix sets a new benchmark for the battery storage market. After all, companies such as BMW, Bosch and Eon are in cooperation with this medium-sized company from Dresden, which currently employs more than 300 staff in Germany and abroad.

The My-Reserve Matrix is an enhancement of the domestic storage unit My-Reserve, which has up to 8.8 kilowatt hours of capacity. This unit is installed as part of the solar string and connected to the inverter’s MPP tracker. Because this is a genuine and highly efficient DC system, a separate battery inverter is not necessary.

The Matrix takes this idea further and allows unlimited capacities. Any number of strings can have storage added to them, with up to two MPP trackers per inverter. The system can be utilised equally for a private home or a small business or an industrial company.

This is made possible by the new modular concept (matrix) where the storage unit is assembled individually to a capacity from 2.2 kilowatt hours up to two megawatt hours. Every additional module increases the charging capacity of the system. Axel Schiller said: “This allows us to fully adapt this storage unit to the usage patterns and the power demand of the user.”

Fenecon presents the Mini 3.3

The Bavarian storage provider Fenecon is a potent player in the market for storage units of all sizes. In Munich, Fenecon presented a wide range of products based on batteries made by BYD from Shenzhen in China. Most interesting to private customers should be the new Mini, a very compact and inexpensive small-scale storage unit with 3.3 kilowatt hours of capacity and high output.

According to head of sales Christof Wiedmann, BYD have innovative lithium iron phosphate cells of 200 ampere hours on offer. In contrast to conventional lithium ion cells, these do not give off oxygen. This makes the thermal runaway effect less likely. BYD state a service life of over 20 years. A remarkable feature is the high C rate, which allows complete discharging or charging within one hour.

After somewhat more than two hours, the participants return to the photovoltaik stand, where the PV Guided Tours had started. Many expressed their gratitude. “This is highly recommendable,” was the opinion of one of them, who also looked forward to again taking part next year. The person next to him said that the tour was “a welcome opportunity to go deep into the trade fair”. A third person stated: “To me, your tour is the highlight of the fair.”

pv Guided Tours will be offered again at Intersolar Europe 2018 in Munich end of June. (HG/HCN)

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