Get Ready for 150 Gigawatts of Solar Capacity and 40 Gigawatts of Storage in Germany

Price slump in photovoltaic and battery systems forces energy-sector rethink

Berlin, 27 October 2015. The German power system can easily cope with four times the number of solar power plants it now has without any major problems, provided these are suitably complemented with battery-powered storage facilities. As prices of both solar power and battery storage systems are set to continue falling sharply, energy policy and the energy sector should prepare for a scenario with much larger amounts of solar power and many more battery storage systems than today, Agora Energiewende says in a new background paper. The study examines the impact on Germany’s electricity system if the country were to have solar power systems with a total capacity of 150 gigawatts, battery storage systems with a total capacity of 40 gigawatts, and a storage capacity of 120 gigawatt-hours.

"Scenarios with 150 or 200 gigawatts of photovoltaics in Germany, which were until recently considered by many utterly unrealistic, are technically and economically possible. Rather than focusing on electricity sales, energy businesses will need other products to serve customers who produce and store their own power," says Dr Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende. For example, this could include things like energy services, the sale and maintenance of electricity storage, or the management of a larger pool of combined solar-power-and-storage systems.

"Energy policy should be set up to accommodate a possible boom in solar-power-and-storage combinations by first creating the legal and technical conditions that allow the new technology and the overall power system to mesh well with each other," said Graichen. "Secondly, one should investigate the extent to which the rise of solar power storage systems makes constructing further high-voltage power lines in the current network development plan – that means after 2025 ¬– unnecessary."

The background paper - "What if… there were a nationwide rollout of PV battery systems?" - is available for download under www.agora-energiewende.de.

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