Power-storage systems are employed to help ensure that electricity from renewable sources is always available – regardless of whether the wind blows or the sun is shining. This makes them an important part of the energy transition. With regard to commerce and industry, power-storage systems can also reduce energy costs and improve the reliability of power supplies. The possible uses are manifold.
Benefits of power storage for commerce and industry
Commercial storage systems offer several benefits with regard to commercial and industrial applications. The three most important are listed below:
Greater stability and reliability: Storage systems can help ensure that power supplies remain stable and reliable. They are able to even out power-grid fluctuations and outages. They therefore assist in ensuring that power supplies remain stable and reliable.
Saving energy costs: Power-storage systems permit electricity to be used when it’s available at low rates. It can be stored at times when the price is low and consumed when electricity from the grid is more expensive. Storage systems are also able to help ensure that electricity is available during peak loads. The use of power-storage systems means that businesses are able to avoid expensive rates or generation technologies that are oriented towards peak loads.
Reducing emissions: Power-storage systems support the use of energy from renewable sources by storing it and making it constantly available. And if renewable energy replaces electricity from fossil sources, this helps reduce emissions that are harmful to the climate. And this, of course, also improves the ecological balance of businesses that depend on electricity.
Most companies don’t rely on just one of these benefits, they employ a mix of different applications to benefit from the various advantages.
The most important power-storage systems for industry and commerce
Lithium-ion batteries are chemical storage systems that have found frequent widespread use. They possess a high energy density, which means that they are small and light relative to their capacities, and they are also efficient and long-lasting. But they are also rather expensive.
Flywheel accumulators use the kinetic energy from turning wheels. Other mechanical accumulators, e.g. compressed air accumulators, also exist. These systems may be charged and discharged quickly but their storage capacities are low.
Redox-flow batteries are still rather rare in commercial applications. They store energy in liquid electrolytes. They are characterised by very long life spans but require lots of space and are more expensive than ordinary lead or lithium storage systems.
What type of company will benefit from power-storage systems?
Which industrial and commercial users will benefit from power-storage systems depends on a variety of factors. It all depends on the company’s own electricity requirements, how important stable power supplies are and how available power from renewable sources of energy is.
Companies with large electricity needs may benefit particularly from power-storage systems. Storage systems can help save costs by storing power when it is available at low rates and making it available at times when it’s more expensive. This way, storage systems also contribute to the optimisation of power grids.
The demand for power during peak load times also needs to be taken into account. Expensive peak-load rates often need to be agreed if, for example, high peak loads are caused specifically during the start-up of production facilities. These peak loads could, however, be covered more cheaply with the company’s own power-storage system.
Power storage can also serve as an emergency power source for businesses that require an uninterrupted power supply.
The stable quality of the power supply is also of concern to data centres (e.g. in regard to voltages and frequencies) in order to prevent damage. Power-storage systems are also useful in this regard.
Power-storage systems may also be employed at companies that generate renewable energy themselves, e.g. through solar roofs, to bridge the gap when the sun is not shining or the wind does not blow.
From an economic point of view, it’s not possible to say in general terms which companies would benefit from power-storage systems and which would not. Power-storage systems are becoming continuously cheaper – but they still constitute a considerable investment that requires careful assessment of the economic aspects and balancing against the electricity rates for alternative and local sources of power.
What economic aspects need to be considered when investing in commercial storage systems?
Several economic factors come into play when power-storage systems are being considered for business and industrial applications:
Naturally, the costs for the actual storage systems as well as their installation and commissioning are central. These costs vary greatly depending on applications and sizes.
The operational costs, i.e. the costs for maintenance and servicing, any required air-conditioning and insurance premiums, may also constitute significant factors.
Expected service lives also need to be taken into account if investments in power-storage systems are to deliver benefits and pay for themselves over time. Long life spans in conjunction with low repair costs are decisive to the overall cost-effectiveness. It’s important to ensure good warranty conditions because it’s always difficult to estimate the repair requirements for storage systems in advance.
The costs are offset by the savings in energy costs that are then achieved. The ability to store energy at times when lower rates are charged and use it when rates are higher as well as the avoidance of rates charged during peak-load times may produce significant savings depending on the use case.
Detailed cost-benefit analyses will assist in the development of an informed view of how cost-effective storage systems can be. It’s important to keep a close eye on the company’s long-term development: Will the storage system also match business objectives in five or ten years’ time? It’s recommended that energy advice be sought from professionals who possess the appropriate expertise in storage technologies.
How much do industrial and commercial power-storage systems cost?
The cost of electricity storage systems has generally fallen over recent years as the technology has advanced and production has expanded. The costs for a commercial lithium-ion storage system may today range between around € 300 to 700 per kilowatt hour, depending on the application.
The costs for commercial or industrial energy-storage systems vary significantly. They depend on the employed storage technology, the storage system’s size or capacity, the manufacturer, the location and the installation costs. It’s therefore essential to obtain quotes from appropriate installation companies for an accurate overview of the required investment. It may also make sense to put an order for a large storage system out to tender.
It’s important to note that storage systems are also associated with other costs besides acquisition: These include the cost of installation, maintenance and operation. Disposal costs generally don’t play a role here as manufacturers are obliged to take back the systems they’ve sold.