Solar power storage technologies are being integrated by large energy companies


As 2016 promises to be a pivotal year in the development and sales of batteries for the storage of renewable energy, we take a look at steps that two large energy and technology companies are taking to integrate batteries into both the large-scale and domestic solar power market.


Energy storage large scale – GE providing energy to the grid

GE is a one of the world’s largest companies, with expertise in many areas, including an existing range of solar and wind batteries. Operating for over one hundred years, the company has a long and successful history of working with turbines for energy generation since GE superchargers were introduced during World War I.

Fast-forward to 2016 and GE have developed a new approach to energy generation and storage using turbines, that promises to solve 2 current problems in the field of power generation:

  1. Fossil fuel power plants currently generate a huge amount of CO2 as a by-product – a gas that is having disastrous effects on our climate - some of which is captured and stored.

  2. Solar power is commonly used to generate electricity, but without the capability to store energy there is no capacity to provide power at times of day when there is no sunshine.

GE have established a revolutionary new two part technique to combine solar power and CO2 which involves (1) freezing CO2 to a solid dry ice state using excess energy from the power grid and (2) heating salt to a molten state by using a concentrated array of solar mirrors, similar to those successfully powering parts of Morocco, while the sun is shining. The dry ice can then be heated by the molten salt on demand, to form what is known as a “supercritical fluid” meaning that it has neither liquid or gas phases. Importantly this supercritical fluid can power a CO2 turbine to produce energy as and when it is needed.

GE have shown that this technique successfully provides highly efficient method of producing renewable energy and the process is expected to be commercially available in the next 5-10 years.


Energy storage small scale – E.ON providing energy from rooftops

E.ON is one of the largest energy providers in the world, operating in over 30 countries and providing energy to more than 33 million customers. They currently operate 6 nuclear power plants in Germany. But the German government announcement in 2011 that Germany’s nuclear power stations will be shut down by 2022 means that E.ON together with other energy providers are evolving to more renewable energy options.

E.ON now have several solar- and wind-farm sites across Europe and the US, but they are increasing their renewable energy portfolio with 5.2 GW of renewable energy capacity, which is enough to provide heating and electricity for over 3.3 million homes.

In the UK E.ON participated a residential solar program last year in partnership with 2 other major energy providers where they guaranteed a 20 year energy production from rooftop solar panels for customers in the Midlands, or they would cover the shortfall.

Advancing from the solar panel packages that they provided to UK customers last year, from next month E.ON will be offering customers in Germany a residential solar PV-plus-storage package. This product includes a MyReserve lithium-ion battery by Solarwatt. The system is expected to cost between 7000-9000 euros including tax, for a package that includes the solar PV panels, a battery, an inverter and electronics. The 4.4 KWh battery will also be available to buy alone. The life of the battery is 12 to 15 years with daily use, and it comes with a 10 year warranty.

E.ON is focusing on this technology as it expects renewable energy to triple its market in the next 15 years and it will rely heavily on storage. Last week E.ON launched a large battery-based storage research facility in the UK, in partnership with a three universities, as part of the Energy2050 initiative. This will enable them research an innovative lithium-titanate battery developed by Toshiba. This battery is thought to offer many advantages over lithium-ion batteries as well as being safer.


Along with GE and E.ON, most companies that provide homes worldwide with energy are focusing on battery technologies. With so many of the world’s leading energy providers developing ways to incorporate batteries for renewable energy, the next decade promises to see a revolution in this technology.

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