Energy

Subsidy program for solar power storage starts in May

What a back and forth, but now the previously announced funding program for battery storage is supposed to start on May 1st. In March it still looked as if the program could not come about, at least Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier could not bring any positive news to the conference in Düsseldorf.

The solar industry welcomes the federal government’s plan to promote the market launch of battery systems for solar power storage from May 1, 2013. The financing of the new funding program is secured, as was confirmed today by the Federal Ministry for the Environment. In the future, the state will subsidize the purchase of new battery storage systems for solar power systems with up to 660 euros per kilowatt of solar power output. In the first year, funding of 25 million euros will be provided and awarded by the KfW banking group.

The use of decentralized energy storage is considered an important component of the energy transition. Battery storage helps to adapt the sunshine-dependent solar power supply to individual power demand by means of intermediate storage. They also reduce the need to expand local power grids to accommodate larger shares of renewable energies.

The generation costs for solar power are now mostly below the electricity purchase prices from the energy supplier. This makes it worthwhile for more and more people and companies to use self-generated solar power themselves. In a single-family house with a photovoltaic system, consumers can reduce their external electricity consumption by up to 60 percent in combination with a local battery storage system, as determined by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).

“We are anticipating brisk demand. More and more people are interested in generating electricity from renewable sources themselves at low cost. They want to be sure that they are actually using clean electricity. Solar power system and solar power storage in a double pack are an excellent climate protection guarantee,” says Dr. Günther Häckl, President of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar).

Storage relieves the power grids and also stabilizes electricity prices. Fraunhofer ISE came to this conclusion in its “Storage Study 2013”. Storage systems that are connected to the power grid can then reduce feed-in power peaks by up to 40 percent. The capacity of the local power grids without additional expansion will thus be increased by up to two thirds.

Solar power systems that are combined with state-subsidized storage systems must reduce their output to 60 percent of the system output for the entire duration of the payment. In this way, the plant operators help to avoid production peaks. The distribution grids no longer have to be designed for the maximum feed-in of the solar power systems. This saves line capacity, fewer new power lines have to be laid.

Great interest in battery storage, but high prices are still an obstacle to purchase

There is a great deal of interest in battery storage, particularly among operators of small solar power systems with a capacity of up to 10 kilowatts, which are typically found in single or multi-family houses. This was shown by a survey of suppliers of storage systems for solar systems, which the Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft eV conducted at the end of 2012. A good every second new photovoltaic investor and every third system operator shows an interest in battery storage. But the sales have not reflected that so far. So far, the biggest obstacle to the sale of battery storage has been high investment costs.

“The new subsidies will now boost the use of storage. When the storage market gains momentum, given the high demand, falling costs can be expected due to economies of scale and technological advances,” says Häckl. The German Solar Industry Association explains the new funding program in a free information paper and gives calculation examples.

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