The First 100% Green Grid Is Online, Figuratively Speaking

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Originally published in the ECOreport

The first 100% green grid is online, figuratively speaking. Philip Hiersemenzel of Younicos said there is no such thing as a Mecklenberg grid (the part of Germany in question), only a European continental grid that stretches from Poland to Portugal, from the northern tip of Denmark to Sicily/Greece. Mecklenburg is already 100% renewable on paper but, without storage, up until recently now most of that electricity had to be exported. This changed four months ago when the 5 MWh battery pack at Schwerin started a “trial run.” Today – September 16, 2014 – it is officially “online.”

One of the major obstacles to Germany’s going “green” has been the necessity of using conventional power plants to back up intermittent renewable energy sources. They have been blocking the grid!

Eröffnung 5MW WEMAG Batteriepark Schwerin

As  Hiersemenzel explains,

“To be able to adjust their power just a little up and down, these plants have to run at something like 70% of capacity. In fact a typical coal fired power plant runs at 90% in order to adjust 2% up and down. The remainder of the power thus produced has to be absorbed by the grid and thus blocks space for renewable generation. In Germany we have about 25 Gigawatts of such so-called “must-run” capacity. With an average load of 60 and a low of 45 GW that means that in times of low load everything above 20GW of renewable generation has to be powered down or exported. Thermal plants, of course, produce CO2 to do this.”

Younicos’ solution was to replace the fossil fuel back-up with large scale batteries.

They built the 5 MW/MWh battery power plant in the Schwerin district of Lankow for WEMAG. It houses 1600 battery trays containing 25,600 lithium-manganese-oxide cells that can store and release energy within milliseconds.


“The job of the battery is to provide positive and negative primary frequency regulation – regulations/market design requires this to be made available for a maximum of 15 minutes,” said Hiersemenzel. “It important to understand that the point of this battery is not to store energy for any length of time (and make money buy “buying low and selling high”), but rather to stabilise the grid by providing power – or just as importantly – taking out excess power in the grid, thus stabilizing the grid frequency.”

The battery park enables utilities to de-clog their grids and use a lot more renewable energy.


“Batteries use all of their power (positive and negative) and because they are much faster and much more precise, our 5 MW unit replaces 50 MW of conventional generation capacity that would be AT THE VERY least required for the same +/- 5 MW!” Hiersemenzel explained. “Batteries provide this service not only completely without CO2 emissions, much faster and much more precisely and thus more effectively – and above all more economically! From tomorrow, we’ll be proving that every day for everyone to see!”

So are we witnessing the birth of a 100% renewable grid?

“Definitely,” said Hiersemenzel. “The point here is that intelligent storage makes our grids more resilient, smarter and above all more efficient. It enables the economic use of more renewables and it pays!”


There was a three hour commissioning ceremony today. The following excerpts are taken from Younico’s press release:

Europe’s largest commercial battery power plant was connected to the grid today in the presence of Vice-Chancellor and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister-President Erwin Sellering. The 5 megawatt lithium-ion unit was designed by the Berlin-based grid and storage specialists Younicos for WEMAG, a supplier of green electricity based in the northern German city of Schwerin. The commissioning of the fully automated unit marks the first time in Europe that a stand-alone battery is stabilizing fluctuations in grid frequency, thus helping to safely integrate wind and solar energy into the existing grid.

“The first commercial battery storage system on this scale is an important step towards a successful energy transition,” said Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the opening ceremony. “Batteries are especially well suited to providing control power to stabilize grid frequency. In combination with wind and solar generation, this can ensure the future stability of the power system. WEMAG’s battery power plant is a good example of the commitment of municipal utilities to the energy transition, which can inspire similar projects in other parts of Germany.”

“Up to now the power grid has been largely stabilized by inflexible coal-fired power plants, which can only use a fraction of their output for control power. This blocks space in the grid, increasingly forcing wind and solar generation to be taken offline,” explained Clemens Triebel, CTO of Younicos. “Our battery park avoids this economic impact because it is much faster and more precise than a thermal power station. Thus, our 5 megawatt battery in Schwerin provides the same control power as a conventional 50 megawatt turbine,” the Younicos co-founder added.

Eröffnung 5MW WEMAG Batteriepark Schwerin

“In the WEMAG grid area, more than 80 percent of the power consumed already comes from wind and solar generation – making us a front runner in renewable energy. We therefore feel committed to bringing to market new, more efficient solutions for the energy transition,” adds Thomas Pätzold, CTO of WEMAG AG. “Our battery storage unit shows the way forward: it is the best technical solution for smoothing naturally intermittent renewable feed-in, and it is also commercially very attractive.” In addition to receiving initial development funding of 1.3 million Euros from the innovation program of the Federal Environment Ministry, the unit will earn its keep by competing in the primary frequency regulation market. “In the future, the battery will also provide other system services, such as reactive power and black start capability, thus offering further economic advantages,” Pätzold continued.

Images above (descending from top of page):

  • Erwin Sellering, Thomas Pätzold, Sigmar Gabriel und Clemens Triebel (v.l.) nehmen den Batteriepark in Betrieb – Courtesy Younicos
  • WEMAG Luftbild Batteriespeicher  – Courtesy Younicos
  • NaS Batterien 1MW 6MWh von NGK im Technologiezentrum in Berlin Adlershof – Courtesy Younicos
  • WEMAG Batteriespeicher innen  – Courtesy Younicos
  • Eröffnung 5MW WEMAG Batteriepark Schwerin – Courtesy Younicos

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales