Island of Pellworm points the way to the energy supply system of the future


Leonhard Birnbaum,
Board member,
Pellworm, Germany — (METERING.COM) — September 23, 2013 – The North Sea Island of Pellworm is pointing the way to the energy supply system of the future with the deployment of northern Germany’s first smart local energy system, which is serving as a platform for testing and refining the local storage of renewable source electricity and the operation of a smart grid.

E.ON and Schleswig-Holstein Netz have worked together to install an energy storage system and to establish data links between customers’ electricity meters and the island’s wind and solar power plants, making it possible to harness as much locally produced energy as possible. Surplus electricity generated on windy, sunny days, is fed into large scale batteries and into small scale storage devices at customers’ homes. On cloudy or windless days, the batteries supply power for the island’s residents.

The purpose of the SmartRegion Pellworm project is to address several challenges of the energy transformation. It aims to balance the intermittent output of renewables and to use more of this output locally. The technology already deployed on Pellworm could – in the future and on a larger scale – help reduce the need for transporting large quantities of bulk power across Germany and Europe and, consequently, reduce the need for network expansion.

The nearly €10 million project is being conducted by a broad-based innovation alliance consisting of partners from industry and science. SmartRegion Pellworm, which received funding from several federal ministries as part of the Federal Energy Storage Initiative, is now entering its decisive operational phase.

“The expansion of renewables in Germany has created a situation where on particularly windy or sunny days the supply of power exceeds demand ever more frequently and by an ever wider margin – consequently, the power system is increasingly pushed to the limits of its capacity,” commented Leonhard Birnbaum, a member of E.ON SE’s Board of Management. “That’s why E.ON is investing in the development of smart grids and large scale energy storage technology. We need to learn more about, and gain much more experience with, these technologies.”

As part of the SmartRegion Pellworm project, the island’s existing power infrastructure was supplemented by a variety of components that make it possible to better control energy flows and to achieve an optimal balance between power output and usage. The integration of large scale batteries into the regional power grid is one of the new approaches taken by the project. Another is the design of the large scale storage system, which combines two state-of-the-art battery technologies: lithium ion and redox flow. Other key components of the island’s innovative power system included two automated distribution substations, special converter technology, and an energy management system.