Last year’s interview with the product manager of IBC Solar AG, Marco Siller, about increasing self-consumption from photovoltaic systems was the most popular and most read article. The whole topic of battery storage seemed to be the great hope for photovoltaics in Germany last year, all contributions on this topic were well received by the readers.
Is that still the case today? In any case, the memory posts from last year are no longer read as well. With the new funding, the interest should be greater.
So after more than 1.5 years it is time for an update and so I asked Marco Siller, Head of Product Management at IBC SOLAR AG, about the current situation and also included a few questions from readers.
What is your experience of the last 2 years as one of the first battery storage providers on the market?
The storage system product has been very well received by the market. However, it has also become clear that there needs to be a major rethink on the part of everyone involved: Away from the idea of returns and towards the idea of savings. In addition, the installation of a storage tank is more demanding than that of a pure PV system, which is why it is important to prepare the installers well for the new system through training. Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the long time between political announcements and the actual start of a subsidy program has almost brought the market to a standstill for half a year.
The prices for battery storage are still very high. Do storage facilities need a subsidy?
At the moment, the main selling point for the storage systems is independence. Purely economic considerations are not in the foreground. If the storage systems are to establish themselves on a larger scale, customers must also be reached, who see an economic advantage as an argument. Therefore, from today’s perspective, storage funding is necessary as an incentive program and to increase awareness of the technology.
For cost reasons, are more lead-gel storage units sold than battery storage units with Li-ion technology?
The choice for a lead or lithium variant is not made for reasons of cost. There are customers who are very technology-oriented and therefore always want to have the latest technology in-house. On the other hand, there are many customers who opt for the technology that has been tried and tested for decades. In total, the number of lead and lithium batteries sold is about the same.
Is a price development to be expected in the near future?
That depends on many factors. For example: How are raw material prices developing worldwide? How is electric mobility progressing? Photovoltaic with its stationary storage is still a small player in the world market. However, in principle, if the quantity increases, the price should go down.
What do you say to customers who are concerned about lead in storage?
The feedback from the market is consistently positive, especially with regard to the clear recycling paths. In the case of lead-acid batteries, these methods are particularly well developed by the automotive sector. The solar battery storage systems also use sealed lead-gel batteries, which can be operated almost maintenance-free.
What is the warranty on the batteries?
So far, the statutory warranty has been given for the systems. With the storage subsidy program (MAP), the battery manufacturers will now give a time value replacement guarantee of 80% of the nominal capacity over a period of 7 years.
What role does energy management play in optimizing self-consumption of solar power?
Energy management plays a prominent role. The more self-consumption you can achieve without using storage, the more profitable the system is. At night, however, self-consumption can only be served with the help of a storage tank. In addition, energy management plays a major role when it comes to grid compatibility of PV systems. The further development towards “intelligently controlled” storage PV systems will play a major role in the future.
Are there any findings from the local memory and will there be other projects of this magnitude?
Technically, the memory does what it’s supposed to do. If the voltage in the grid is too high, the storage system stabilizes the low-voltage grid and thus avoids the need for grid expansion in the form of additional cables and transformer reinforcements. However, the major hurdle to the introduction of storage to stabilize the grid is currently the Electricity Grid Fees Ordinance. It clearly regulates which components may be used for grid expansion, which so far includes all traditional components, from cables and lines to station buildings and mobile power generators. As long as the storage systems are not listed here, their spread as an intelligent and cost-saving option for upgrading the power grids will be inhibited.