The contract calls for the purchase of new lithium-ion batteries to store electricity generated by the company’s wind turbine facilities. Vattenfall is one of the largest utility companies in Europe, with operations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. It is wholly owned by the Swedish government.
The batteries will be the same 33 kWh batteries used by BMW to power its i3 electric sedans and will include a proprietary battery management system created by BMW. The contract calls for the delivery of 1,000 batteries a year. Vattenfall is pushing ahead with aggressive clean energy goals. It recently announced that it would replace all 3,500 vehicles in its company fleet with EVs.
The announcement underscores how quickly things change in technology today. In late 2015, BMW was hard at work on a plan to use recycled EV batteries for grid storage. Last year, Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel gave a talk in which he said his company had carefully evaluated both new and used batteries and decided that new was the most effective strategy.
“Energy storage and grid stability are the major topics of the new energy world,” says Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president of Vattenfall and head of its wind energy division. “We want to use the sites where we generate electricity from renewable energies in order to drive the transformation to a new energy system and to facilitate the integration of renewable energies into the energy system with the storage facilities. The decoupling of production and consumption and the coupling of different consumption sectors are in the focus of our work.”
The BMW batteries will be used first at the Princess Alexia wind farm, a 122-megawatt facility near Amsterdam. The battery storage portion will have a total capacity of 3.2 megawatts and will be Vattenfall’s first large storage project in the Netherlands. A second installation at the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in Wales is contemplated, as well as at a future wind farm under consideration near Hamburg.
Grid storage installations help balance the grid by absorbing excess electricity and feeding it back into the grid when needed. The needs of an electrical grid can change second by second. Only batteries are capable of handling such nearly instantaneous fluctuations in demand. Battery storage contributes to higher network quality and a more efficient use of the existing network structure and is an important part of Vattenfall’s strive to power climate smarter living.
“We are pleased that we have found a supplier in BMW, who meets our high safety requirements with the use of the batteries with reliably good quality from German series production,” says Daniel Hustadt, project manager for large batteries at Vattenfall Innovation.