Leading lignite miner in eastern Germany moves into battery storage market

Leading lignite miner in eastern Germany moves into battery storage market

Clean Energy Wire:

Eastern Germany’s largest energy company and lignite mine operator, LEAG, has started work on a large-scale storage project that could help close a gap in the energy transition by enabling easier integration of renewable energy in the power grid. It will consist of a lithium-ion battery with a planned capacity of 50 megawatts (MW). The battery will store electricity from the German power grid generated by a variety of energy sources (the mix in 2018 was nearly 35 percent renewables, more than 50 percent fossil fuels and almost 12 percent nuclear).
Although it will not only store renewable energy, its intelligent connection with a power plant control system can provide insights that LEAG hopes will “generate application examples for other industry sectors”. The energy company touts the project as “the only one of its kind in Europe” as it “combines modern power plant infrastructure with storage technology in a completely new order of magnitude”. The state of Brandenburg is supporting the project with 25 million euros. In the long run, storage facilities like the so-called BigBattery could provide the missing link in the German energy transition. Electricity from renewable sources is not available at all times. Finding ways to store the energy generated by weather-dependent renewables could therefore be an important element for the country’s Energiewende as Germany seeks to completely phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038 at the latest, as recommended by the country’s coal exit commission.

According to the WWF, the whole world could get all the power it needs from renewable resources by 2050, ending our reliance on fossil fuels and other depleting resources – but only if the right political, financial and societal decisions are made, and quickly.

Until now, LEAG has operated lignite mines, whose coal has fired four conventional power plants and been refined to create fuel. “With the installation of this large electrical storage unit, LEAG is becoming actively involved in a technological environment that offers a wide range of potential for the future,” Helmar Rendez, head of LEAG’s management board, said in a press release. “In order to develop LEAG into a broadly-based energy company, we require time and a reliable regulatory framework,” he added.
Partnering with the Schwarze Pumpe industry park association, other industrial players and research institutions, LEAG has also applied for the funding of a hydrogen storage and power plant. If funded, this pilot project could likewise contribute to securing grid stability while enabling experiments on using hydrogen for sector coupling.

More: German coal mine and power plant operator builds large-scale battery