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Published on June 6th, 2012 | by Thomas Gerke

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Panasonic Begins Mass Production of Energy Storage Solutions for the European Market

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Strategic Decisions

On Monday, Panasonic announced that it will launch mass production of long-life lithium-ion battery systems that the company has developed especially for European homes. According to Panasonic, every lithium-ion battery module has an estimated lifetime of 5000 load cycles at 80% DOD (depth of discharge) and a capacity of 1.35 kWh. Cranking up its production like this is a big decision that will certainly affect the prices of these systems.

In the press release, Panasonic pointed at Germany as the main market for its energy storage solutions designed for European homes. Germany is “of course” the world’s largest market for photovoltaic power generation and has reached consumer price parity and even grid parity in some cases this year. In accordance with this development, the country’s groundbreaking FiT for solar energy will soon be lowered below electricity prices, a change that puts the struggling solar industry in a difficult situation at the moment as small investors question the profitability of going solar.

But this change also creates huge new opportunities for storage solutions, as solar power becomes a cost saver the more people can use their own power throughout the year. It seems Panasonic has anticipated this development….

 


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Earlier this year, Panasonic introduced a “Smart Energy Storage” system to the Japanese market. This was a development by Sanyo — a (the?) leading Japanese battery maker — which Panasonic bought in 2009 and fully integrated into its corporation as of March 2011. This is clearly a big strategic takeover by the giant Japanese electronics corporation as it focuses its future business strategy on clean tech solutions and restructure its company accordingly.

The entire system consists of a management unit that includes controls that manage energy flows and an inverter that converts direct current (DC) from solar or battery into the AC we all love for powering our gadgets at home. A battery of various sizes is then hooked into the management system to make it work. The size of the battery depends on the number of 1.35-kWh modules, but it’s mainly promoted with a 5.4 kWh capacity (4 x 1.35-kWh modules)

Panasonic at large in Germany

But this announcement is not Panasonic’s entrance into the German market. In fact, it had already partnered with a small German energy storage company that is owned by EWE, a relatively large regional utility and IT company based in northern Germany. Together, they developed the E3/DC power management and storage system, which was announced last year and went on sale earlier this year. Considering EWEs investments in e-mobility and offshore & onshore wind, and its IT background, it seems to be building its own little “smart grid empire” and Panasonic provides the enterprise with cutting-edge lithium-ion battery technology.

The E3/DC system has a usable capacity of 4.05 to 8.10 kWh and is equiped with those Sanyo/Panasonic battery modules that are now about to be mass produced. It has a maximum power output of 4 kW, which is more than enough for an average German household. They are also developing a system that can be used in apartment buildings, a missing link for the “solarization” of cities here in Germany and elsewhere.

How fast will Panasonic’s move to start mass production reduce prices? Only time will tell.

But one thing seems certain, with prices for solar systems at their current lows and big players like Panasonic basing their corporate futures on these kind of clean tech solutions, the power grid and the world are in for a technological revolution that will shake things up even more than the rise of the internet. The only question seems to be when, or should I say how soon, this revolution will start?






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About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.



  • http://www.facebook.com/jones.wu.92 Jones Wu

    Dear Mr. Thomas How do you do ? We are a energy storage system manufacturer in Taiwan and OEM for some Japanese companies
    How do I contact you by email to discuss further ?
    We want to promote 4.6KW energy storage system in Germany with our own brand name “OPTI-Solar” Please refer to http://www.opti-solar.com
    Where are you located in Germany Our sales office and Show room is in Tubingen
    Regards
    Jones, GM of http://www.opti-solar.com

  • http://www.vanadiumsite.com/ Richard Mowat

    Grid energy storage will be a huge business in the coming years.  In fact, it is expected to be a $1.8 billion dollar business in 2013.  This is a great article on renewable
    energy storage
    by American Vanadium Cor. who is developing the only vanadium mine in the Americas.

    http://www.americanvanadium.com/grid-energy-power-storage.php

    (Mod: This is kind of an advertising post, but it does contain some good info, so it’s getting a pass. I wouldn’t take that as site advice to invest in vanadium. There are some other very promising storage technologies as well.)

  • Pingback: Home Solar Power Storage — Another Option : House Solar Energy

  • Matt

    Sorry about the formating on the table

  • Matt

    Devil in the details for sure. But if you look back several pages you will see the stories on:
    - Texus Utility giving electric away at night ($0.0 Kwh). They want to ramp up load balancing across the whole day, lots of night time wind. So for a company on peak billing this is around a 50-60 cents night time to peak time cost difference.
    - (May 9) CUNY Energy Institute with the 5-10k cycle bank they were claiming would come out in the $300-$500 KWh range.
    - (May 25) MIT’s Don Sadoway (Liguid salt battery) lots of news and funding but no price points
    - (April 25) SolarCity/Tesla Motor package for off-grid living
    - (April 25) S&C Electric running a pilot storage project

    Change do not come in a linear fashion. So expect a lot of change in storage over the next couple of year. Panasonics see a lot of money in the market of they wouldn’t be jumping in now.

    So how long does the system take to pay for itself? Depends on the cost difference between the low (storage) and high (use) electric costs. Across top. And the total system cost/Kwh (vertical). Table is number of cycles.

    $0.60 $0.50 $0.40 $0.30 $0.20 $0.10
    600 1000 1200 1500 2000 3000 6000
    500 833 1000 1250 1667 2500 5000
    400 667 800 1000 1333 2000 4000
    300 500 600 750 1000 1500 3000
    200 333 400 500 667 1000 2000
    100 167 200 250 333 500 1000
    50 83 100 125 167 250 500

    Or if you say one cycle per day and 365 days a year, then number of years is
    $0.60 $0.50 $0.40 $0.30 $0.20 $0.10
    600 2.74 3.29 4.11 5.48 8.22 16.44
    500 2.28 2.74 3.42 4.57 6.85 13.70
    400 1.83 2.19 2.74 3.65 5.48 10.96
    300 1.37 1.64 2.05 2.74 4.11 8.22
    200 0.91 1.10 1.37 1.83 2.74 5.48
    100 0.46 0.55 0.68 0.91 1.37 2.74
    50 0.23 0.27 0.34 0.46 0.68 1.37

    So from some markets the payback will be fast and still have many year of free use/savings.

  • http://ronaldbrak.blogspot.com.au/ Ronald Brak

    With regards to how much it costs, well electric car battery packs are now around $650 a kilowatt-hour. But these household batteries have the advantage of not needing to be as light as possible, so they will hopefully cost less. If they cost $600 a kilowatt-hour and are used to store a total of 5,000 kilowatt-hours, well $600 divided by 5,000 comes to 12 cents a kilowatt hour. That may sound pricey, but in Australia where it is possible to be paid less for providing solar electricity to the local grid than what a coal plant 100 kilometres away is paid to supply electricity to your area, it’s a money saver.

    But there’s no need to stop using them after they degrade to 80% of their full capacity. It’s not as if you have to drive your house any where. I presume they could be used until they’re next to useless and if they are no longer able to meet your needs you can just add new modules as required. This would really push down the cost per kilowatt-hour.

    Of course, just dividing the price by kilowatt-hours stored ignores stuff like discount rates. Adding that in I very roughly get a price of about 16 cents a kilowatt-hour at $600 a kilowatt-hour assuming they go through one charge cycle a day. But that’s still worth it pretty much every where in Australia. And captial costs are lower in the rest of the developed world than Australia. Also they might cost less than $600 a kilowatt-hour and costs will come down in the future, although just how fast it’s hard to say.

    • Bob_Wallace

      $600/kW. 80% DoD, so you could store/use .8kW for $600 or $750 per usable kW. 5,000 cycles would make it 15 cents per kWh. And, like you point out, they can be used long past the 80% point.

      But I’m betting the cost per kW is quite a bit lower now. I’ve seen claims (no proof) that EV batteries have dropped to around $400/kW.

      Aqion is going into production this year and they are claiming that they will be able to hit $300/kW and >5,000 100% DoD cycles. That moves the price to around 6 cents per kWh.

      (That price likely does not include non-battery components and profit.)

      I’ll bet retail stores might be an early user of these systems. They are already installing solar and have significant late afternoon/evening demand. If they are saving money with solar and efficiency then they should be very receptive to other ways to please the bottom line.

      • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

        yeah, seems like retailers might be an idea first market, not homeowners… or both, of course.

        • http://ronaldbrak.blogspot.com.au/ Ronald Brak

          For someone off grid off grid it’s perfect as it going to be less than a tenth the cost of using a diesel generator and it’s going to cost less than a bank of lead acid batteries. They have a ready made market here in rural and remote Australia.

  • Rik

    Great product for Germany when considering how crap the amount of sun they get hehe Id be interested to see how much storage could be applied to charging electric cars

    • Bob_Wallace

      “how crap the amount of sun they get hehe ”

      OK, I’ll play.

      I think you’re implying that Germany doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. Compared to Morocco, your’re right.

      However Germany gets enough sunlight to make PV work and give them a nice hunk of their electricity needs. Affordable storage will mean that it will pay to put more panels on ones roof and avoid purchasing power for a lot more hours.

      Plus, having in-home storage means that people can purchase cheaper off-peak electricity and us it during peak hours.

  • Dcard88

    How soon available in US?

    How much does it cost?

    The devil is in the details, but this is exciting for sure.

    • ThomasGerke

      I can’t answer your first question.
      And the second question isn’t all that clear yet as well.
      But it should be considered, that they are certainly expecting a market for their products, otherwise they wouldn’t mass produce them… that means they need to reach a certain price point.
      My rough guess is has to be in the area of 8.000 – 12.000€… but that could be totally off….

      Two weeks from now there is an important solar tradefair in Munich where Panasonic and others will showcase their products. Perhapos we know more then…

      • turan doğançay

        Thank you very much for your article.

  • Matt

    And so it begins. This is the leg of the triad, wind, solar, storage. As storage cost drop, there will be no reason for a coal power plant. Why big a big hog, when storage kills the base-load myth.

    But not cost points, so guessing we are not all the way there yet.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      yeah, this is huge, but will be interesting to see the costs and how soon they can make them highly attractive. :D

  • Captivation

    This is really IT ! (And I don’t just mean Information Technology). This is the game changer that allows people to conveniently store enough power to even out the grid. Amory Lovins has shown that the amount of “padding” (my word not his) required to flatten the demand curves are actually much less than people think.
    Imagine if just a small percentage of the population used these batteries at home and another small percentage charged their electric cars at work. The curve flattening effects would be cumulative.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      yeah, when i saw this, i said, this is BIG :D

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