The generation of electric energy and the related transmission and distribution system are undergoing significant changes. Smart Grids have higher shares of intermittent/fluctuating renewable energy sources and dispatchable power or switchable load to maintain grid quality. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) is one building block in the future energy system to tackle the related needs for both energy storage and dispatchable electric power. The choice of technology in such applications depends on the performance levels (typically: power capabilities, energy content, efficiency, cycle-life, limits in operation conditions) and sensitivities of the various business cases (costs per kWh stored or cost per KW of power available). Lead–acid batteries play a role in these growing markets and exhibit future potential because of their cost efficiency, robustness, and the prospect of further improvement. Nevertheless, lithium-ion technology is now dominant in residential energy-storage applications with small-scale storage batteries (small kWh range). This situation has developed because of the significant decrease in the costs for lithium in the recent years and because there is a customer requirement for warranty periods of 10 years or more. In addition, the need for integrated system and battery monitoring functions had been a weak point for the lead–acid technology – simply because they are not inherently necessary due to the robustness this battery chemistry. Initially, the lead battery industry offered a rather functional storage concept. Reporting and monitoring functions of ‘stylish design’ (which included a convenient coupling with smart phones) to track the operation of the battery had been integrated too late. Lead–acid technology is presently installed in medium- and large-scale BESSs (i.e., up to several MW/MWh) that offer different grid services and smoothing of local renewable power generation. Here, the function is to provide and absorb electric power from the grid and thereby high power ratings are demanded from the battery. In Aachen, Germany a 5-MW Multi-Technology Battery Energy Storage System has been installed to investigate technical barriers and demonstrate on-grid battery energy storage. Different grid services and trading products are being investigated. Exide has contributed a containerized Energy Storage Module (Restore 500) which is transportable and can be introduced with limited infrastructural requirements. Furthermore, two MW-scale batteries (flooded OCSM and gel-based OPzV technology) have been located in a former office building to understand the needs and barriers to equipping existing buildings with energy storage. For on-grid applications lead–acid technology has to increase its specific power ratings, be ‘easy to use’, and offer modular storage building blocks.
VP R&D EMEA
Norbert Maleschitz started his career in the lead–acid battery industry in 1991 at Banner Batteries in Austria. He holds a bachelor degree in chemical engineering and a master degree in business administration. Over the years, he has held several positions in research and development as well as in operations and engineering. In 2012, Norbert received the International Lead Award and in 2013 he joined Exide Technologies as a Vice President of Research & Development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.