More Than Half a Million New Solar Storage Systems Installed in Germany

Trend Paper – March 05, 2024

The number of newly installed solar storage systems continued to surge in 2023. The figures recorded by the German Solar Association (BSW) in 2022 – 214,000 new residential storage systems, 3,900 new commercial storage systems and an installed storage capacity of around 6.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) – were far exceeded in 2023.

Last year, more than half a million new solar storage systems were installed, bringing the total number of solar batteries to more than one million, and their usable storage capacity to 12 GWh.

In theory, this is would be enough to cover the average daily electricity consumption of around 1.5 million two-person households.

According to the latest market survey by SolarPower Europe, the German market for large battery storage systems with more than 1 MWh also saw considerable growth in 2023: In 2022, 50 large-scale battery storage systems were installed over the entire year – in 2023, this number was already reached in July.

Electricity Storage Strategy leaves some issues unresolved

According to Carsten Körnig, CEO of BSW, including storage systems when purchasing new solar installations, is becoming the norm. With a view to the battery storage strategy published by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action last December, Körnig does criticize the fact that “the government continues to underestimate the opportunities and potential of battery storage for the electricity system, and [that] barriers in the market are slowing their deployment”.

According to Körnig, the strategy document fails to answer key strategic questions. He also reprimands the plans by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to cut state funding from the federal budget for a large part of application research on batteries.

Electricity storage systems – the fourth pillar of the electricity system

BSW argues that battery storage systems should be treated as a fourth pillar of the electricity system, complementing the other pillars (generation, the power grid and electricity consumption) because only they can store excess electricity and feed it back into the grid when it is needed. This enhances the flexibility of the grid, which is increasingly fed with wind and solar power.

At the same time, storage systems can protect the power grid from overloading and provide additional services such as load control or feed-in management for grid-stability and reliability.

BSW reasons that an intelligent storage strategy must make more efficient use of the available grid capacity by using solar storage systems and increasing the hours of use of the grid. This would increase the connection capacity for decentralized producers and additional consumers, such as heat pumps and electric cars.

“The rapid deployment of battery storage can reduce the demand for grid expansion while buying us some time for the necessary – and time-consuming – transformation of the grid to accommodate renewables,” Körnig underlines.

25-fold increase in electricity storage systems required

However, these benefits are not reflected in the draft of the Electricity Storage Strategy. According to BSW, the energy legislation needs to be improved and adequate research funds need to be provided, in order to achieve a 25-fold increase in battery storage capacity by 2025, which energy experts deem necessary.

The government’s Electricity Storage Strategy should also serve as a catalyst for an intensive debate on the system integration of storage systems. Both the solar and the storage industries are in position to deploy the solar power infrastructure and the storage technology needed, Körnig emphasizes.

In its comments on the BMWK’s draft, BSW not only describes its strategic vision of a fourth pillar for the electricity system, but also points out known obstacles that hinder the deployment of electricity storage systems. Urgent action is needed on a number of fronts, including the removal of the time limit on grid charge exemptions, and the option to use storage systems for locally produced or grid-supplied power.

Equal legal priority for solar storage systems

Körnig has a number of demands of a revised electricity storage strategy: “The legal framework is not flexible enough to allow storage systems to use their technical flexibility for the benefit of the grid. We need a paradigm shift away from a system where exemptions have to be made for storage systems to be useful towards a legal framework that gives battery storage systems the same priority as renewable energy systems.

Just as more and more investors are adding battery storage systems to their PV system purchases, legislators, the German government and the German Federal Network Agency will need to include storage systems in their framework of regulatory actions.”

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