Renewables Become a Main Pillar of Our Energy System, Giving Rise to the Importance of Energy Storage

Chapter 2 of the anniversary publication 10 years of ees Europe

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Four chapters on how ees Europe quickly evolved from a new exhibition held alongside Intersolar Europe in Munich in 2014 to Europe’s largest and most international exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems. Chapter 2 highlights the close connection between the expansion of renewable energies and the development of the storage market.

2008, from Freiburg to Munich and beyond

For some time, Germany was the clear leader in terms of installed PV capacity, and the largest PV market in the world. Thanks to the introduction of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) in 2000 and attractive feed-in tariffs, the installed capacity skyrocketed. In 2001, the feed-in tariff for new systems was the equivalent of 50.6 euro cents/kWh. And then Germany experienced a dynamic growth: With a power output of 34.08 GW in 2012 and 36.71 GW in 2013, photovoltaics had overtaken all the other renewable energy sources, including wind power. This was reflected in the fast growth of Intersolar.

2011, PV Energy World special exhibit with a focus on grids and energy storage

At the 2011 exhibition, around 2,200 exhibitors took up 15 of Messe München’s 16 exhibition halls as well as part of the outdoor exhibition area. Here, at one of Germany’s top five exhibition venues, Intersolar was bigger than ever. To accommodate plans to add more events around the world, the organizers added “Europe” to the name of the Munich exhibition. But even before 2011, some exhibitors had checked the “PV charging station / batteries” category on their booth registration forms. Most of them presented lead batteries for off-grid applications.

From the word go, Solar Promotion GmbH had worked with associations, research institutions, and other partners to turn the vision of a renewable 24/7 energy supply into reality. The organizers always saw their exhibitions and conferences as drivers of innovation, sources of inspiration, and catalysts for the entire industry. The large special exhibit at Intersolar Europe, PV Energy World, was set up with Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, a long-standing partner. Even back then it was already obvious that renewable sources of energy were on their way to becoming a main pillar of our energy supply. To make it all happen, storage devices were needed to balance out the fluctuating generation. PV Energy World examined the role of storage devices within the energy systems of the future from various angles: the optimized self-consumption of solar power thanks to the combination of storage systems, electromobility, technological diversity of storage systems and combined power plants. At the time, many held the belief that there would be no market for storage devices for a long time to come.

2012, the birth of a market for modern solar storage systems

The change in the market became palpable: A growing number of companies offered solutions for energy storage systems. Some of them already served a new market: They provided storage systems for residential and commercial applications, and there is a shift towards lithium-based batteries. Some of the pioneering exhibitors we saw in Munich included: ads-tec, LG Chem, Prosol Invest Deutschland GmbH (now sonnen, who introdu- ced the Sonnenbatterie brand that year), Solarwatt AG, Varta, as well as inverter specia- lists such as SMA, E3/DC and Fronius. The organizers of Intersolar gave the young sector more visibility by adding the new product category “PV energy storage / PV energy storage systems”.

Chapter 3: A dedicated energy storage exhibition becomes part of the event portfolio

Chapter 1: Why the real kickoff was in 1991

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