EnerPrax: Assessing the efficiency of storage technologies

The energy transition presents numerous challenges for the energy supply of the future. One of these challenges is how to ensure the stability of the grid, since incorporating energy from renewable sources leads to power fluctuations – especially when electricity production is higher than demand. Storage technologies can provide a solution for this problem by absorbing surplus power and storing it for later use, thereby taking the burden off the grid. In order to promote the use of storage technologies and provide assistance to operators of renewable energy plants, the EnerPrax project at Münster University of Applied Sciences is conducting research, in collaboration with the community of Saerbeck, to establish which combination of storage options is most suitable for different needs and generation volumes.

When renewable energy plants generate more energy than is needed, the grid operators’ feed-in management system intervenes and shuts down plants as necessary, thereby safeguarding the stability of the grid. In order to avoid shutting down electricity production, the surplus power needs to be temporarily stored. This can be achieved using storage batteries and other power-to-X processes. In its EnerPrax project, Münster University of Applied Sciences is undertaking a comprehensive investigation of these technologies and doing research to find out which combination of storage technologies can provide solutions for different individual scenarios. The researchers are working on a field test in collaboration with the community of Saerbeck. The bioenergy park that has been set up in the community there generates more than twice the amount of electricity required to meet local demand using their own renewable energy facilities (wind, solar and biogas). However, the community is unable to achieve real energy self-sufficiency due to the difficulty of forecasting how much power the facilities will generate and the lack of control and storage technologies. Based on the example of data from the bioenergy park, research is therefore examining a sensible combination of storage media in order to improve the community’s own consumption of the power they generate.

Engine for progress:

  • Solution for increased power grid and system stability
  • Opportunity to reduce the expansion of power lines
  • Simultaneous consideration of various storage and other power-to-X solutions
  • Development of an innovative software package

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Photo: FH Münster

Aerial view of the bioenergy park in Saerbeck.

Determining the optimal combination of storage options

In the first stage of the project, the storage technologies available on the market and their respective installation and capacity details were recorded in a feasibility study. By entering the generation and demand profile of the community of Saerbeck, the researchers then carried out a simulation that allowed them to determine the optimal combination of storage options for different scenarios. A demonstration facility with these specific technologies has now been installed at the energy park to allow researchers to check the effectiveness of the combination. Using the experience gained here, a large-scale plant will then be built to store the surplus power in future and make it available for use when needed.

Greater efficiency and increased security of supply

Those leading the project are using the results of the simulation in the community of Saerbeck to collect a large volume of data. This data will allow them to develop a software package that calculates individual storage concepts for operators of other renewable energy plants when their respective generation and demand profile are entered. This tool, which will be freely accessible, will help other regions and communities to ensure that their energy supplies are secure and ready for the future. In addition, using storage technologies reduces the necessity of making costly investments in the expansion of power lines. In other words, the project not only presents an opportunity to make the use of renewable energy more efficient, but also reduces the need to construct additional power lines.

Photo: FH Münster

“The development of appropriate storage technologies must not be limited to the storage of electrical power, but should be seen in a much broader context. Interconnecting different sectors makes it possible to economically store and reuse energy as biogas, heating, hydrogen, potential energy or electricity, or use it in another form.”

Prof. Christof Wetter, Project Manager, Münster University of Applied Sciences

Partners and sponsors

  • FH Münster
  • Gas- und Wärme-Institut Essen e.V. (GWI) (Essen gas and heating institute)
  • SaerVE – Saerbecker Ver- und Entsorgungsgesellschaft mbH (Saerbeck utility and waste disposal company)
  • Community of Saerbeck

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