Hybrid system combines lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow batteries
Rapid availability and long-term storage
While debate rages in Germany about reorganizing the country's transition to alternative forms of energy, an energy storage project on the North Sea coast is quietly setting new standards. A flexible Bosch hybrid battery stores wind power when grids are overloaded. It is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Stuttgart/Braderup – The best of both worlds: from mid-July, a custom-made hybrid system comprising two high-performance battery types will be saving the electricity generated at a community wind farm in the municipality of Braderup, in the far north of Germany. For this project, Bosch will be supplying a compound battery made up of lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow components, along with the controls for the complete system. This compound battery stores electrical energy when the power grids on the windy coast are overloaded and cannot transport any more electricity. “With this concept, we are expanding the range of possible applications for our storage systems,” says Cordelia Thielitz, who heads the stationary storage business area at Bosch. “What's more, storage systems of this kind make it possible to cut back on the expansion of power grids, which has been the source of conflict in many places.”
Making wind power available, whatever the weather As advanced as this new concept is, the purpose of the storage system remains exactly the same as ever: it should be possible to feed wind power into the grid at all times – regardless of whether gales are battering the coast or there is scarcely a puff of breeze. If too much wind power is being generated, the hybrid storage system absorbs the excess and feeds it into the grid later. This means that renewable energy sources, which are subject to strong fluctuations in supply, can be integrated more effectively into the existing power grid. Until now, it has sometimes been necessary to turn turbines out of the wind when grids are overloaded.
Double battery in Braderup The wind blows irregularly over the village of Braderup in northern Germany. Sometimes there are squalls, and sometimes the wind is weaker, but more constant. To store the electricity generated in both cases, the system uses two different batteries. One is a lithium-ion energy storage unit with a capacity of two megawatt hours and an output of two megawatts. Bosch buys the lithium ion batteries from the Japanese manufacturer Sony.
The other is a vanadium redox flow battery with a capacity of one megawatt hour and a peak output of 325 kilowatts. Bosch buys the vanadium redox flow battery from the Nuremberg-based Vanadis Power GmbH. In this area, Bosch cooperates closely with Vanadis's affiliate in the United States, UniEnergy Technologies.
Bosch designs and supplies the complete system, and operates it using its specially developed electronic controls and the corresponding software. The wind farm and battery are connected to the power grid run by Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG. The required 10-kilometer underground cable has already been laid.
200 private investors as clients The client for the battery project is Energiespeicher Nord GmbH & Co. KG, a joint venture founded in 2013 by Robert Bosch GmbH and the community wind farm Braderup-Tinningstedt GmbH & Co. KG. The community wind farm has 200 private investors, and its six wind turbines were put up at the turn of the year. The flat region on the North Sea coast is one of the windiest in Germany. “We combine the strong points of the two battery types and put them to use for our needs,” says Jan Martin Hansen, one of the two general managers of Energiespeicher Nord GmbH & Co. KG. “Depending on wind strength and state of charge, the electronics allocate the power being generated to the battery type that is best suited to the task.” Hansen also called on the German government to change the legal framework conditions to make innovative battery storage systems a viable prospect.
The other general manager is Bosch's Cordelia Thielitz, who explains the joint venture's approach as follows: “Lithium-ion batteries are sometimes called “high-power batteries” because of their ability to absorb and release large amounts of electrical energy over a short period of time, while vanadium redox flow, or “high-energy” batteries store large amounts of energy very efficiently over long periods of time. We use both technologies in a roughly equal share in Braderup. The resulting storage facility is an important milestone on the road to the renewable energy supply of the future. We want to demonstrate that wind-turbine power generation does not have to be shut down when the grid is overloaded. This advance brings the goal of a renewable, efficient, and more distributed energy system several steps closer.”
Total peak output: 2,325 kilowatts The storage facility, which is to be situated on former farmland, has a total output of 2,325 kilowatts and a total capacity of 3,000 kilowatt hours. “Arithmetically, that is enough to cover the electricity needs of 40 average single-family homes for seven days and nights,” says Johannes Kostka, the Bosch associate who is the project's commercial manager. The vanadium redox flow battery will be installed in a building measuring 150 square meters, while the lithium-ion batteries are housed in large steel containers covering an area of around 350 square meters. The total area of the installation, including building services and parking spaces, is approximately 2,500 square meters. The double battery at Braderup is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Offering flexibility As a leading global supplier of technology and services, Bosch is responsible for developing the control electronics, looking after system integration, and testing different operating variants in Braderup. This includes marketing the batteries in the frequency regulation market, taking part of the energy and using it for the wind farm's own consumption, trading on the electricity exchange, and stabilizing the power grid. “The hybrid storage facility is very flexible,” says Felix Maus, technical project manager at Bosch. “On the one hand, it stores electricity for use or sale. On the other, it can balance out short-term fluctuations in demand or energy production in order to keep the power grid stable. Remember that production and demand must be in equilibrium at all times. Another problem in the power grid is voltage fluctuations, which can damage grid installations. To prevent this, the storage facility's power electronics are capable of feeding so-called reactive power into the grid.”
Jan Martin Hansen adds: “When the battery is installed, we can supply renewable energy even when the wind is not blowing. Having solved this major problem, our community wind farm will become a reliable partner that can deliver a continuous supply of renewably generated electricity.”
Background information 1: Overburdened power grids and climate protection When Energiespeicher Nord GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 2013, it was against the background of rising global demand for energy. At the same time, a fundamental change is underway in some parts of the world, with countries moving away from large, centralized power plants burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas and toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Because the energy supplied by these renewables is subject to constant fluctuations, however, the issue of energy storage becomes vitally important. This is one of the many fields in which Bosch is contributing to the energy systems of the future.
Germany plans to cover around half its electricity needs with renewables by 2030. The coalition government in Berlin is currently discussing 'expansion corridors' for increasing renewables capacity. In the long term, renewable energy sources are to contribute a greater share of overall power supply, rising to between 40 and 45 percent by 2025 and to between 55 and 60 percent by 2035. That means lower CO2 emissions and greater climate protection. Energy storage facilities can reduce the number of new power lines that have to be built along the windy North Sea coast. On the one hand, the power can be used right where it is generated. On the other, the storage facilities allow excess production to be transported south when the grids are not overloaded. In short: storage facilities prevent congestion in grids.
Background information 2: How a vanadium redox flow battery works A redox flow battery stores electrical energy in the form of chemical compounds dissolved in a liquid, which is known as an electrolyte. Driven by pumps, two electrolytes circulate in two separate loops. They only come in contact with each other in a small cell separated by an extremely fine membrane, through which positively charged hydrogen particles – the protons – can move from one side to the other. During charging, one of the two electrolyte solutions becomes positively charged while the other becomes negatively charged. When the battery is subsequently discharged, the charged particles return to their original electrolyte, releasing the stored electrical energy. A redox flow battery can be easily expanded by adding further tanks for more electrolyte solution. On account of the special properties of the electrolyte, the batteries retain their full capacity for up to 20 years, even with frequent charging and discharging – irrespective of how deeply they are discharged in each case.
Background information 3: How a lithium-ion battery works: When a lithium-ion battery is charged and discharged, charged lithium particles (lithium ions) move back and forth between negative and positive electrodes. When a full battery is discharged, electrons are released and perform work in an external electric circuit: a current flows. When a battery is charged – for example, with the electricity from a wind farm – this process is reversed: the lithium ions absorb electrons and store them until the next discharge. This process can be repeated many times. The special properties of lithium-ion batteries – such as their high charge and discharge speeds, high capacity, and high energy density – are due mainly to the electrode materials. The negative electrode is made of graphite, while the positive electrode is made of crystalline material, such as manganese, cobalt, aluminum, nickel, or iron. These metal ions form a tunnel structure in which lithium ions are stored during charging and from which they are released again during discharging.
Contact: Johannes Kostka, phone: +49 711 3653-1529
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In 2013, its roughly 281,000 associates generated sales of 46.1 billion euros. (NB: Due to a change in accounting policies, the 2013 figures can only be compared to a limited extent with the 2012 figures). Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 360 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 50 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. In 2013, the Bosch Group invested some 4.5 billion euros in research and development and applied for some 5,000 patents. This is an average of 20 patents per day. The Bosch Group’s products and services are designed to fascinate, and to improve the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial. In this way, the company offers technology worldwide that is “Invented for life.”
The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. 92 percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.
Vanadis Power GmbH, founded in 2013 and based in Nuremberg, Germany, brings to the European market advanced vanadium redox flow batteries for the full range of power and energy applications including integration of renewables. Funded by long-term private equity, Vanadis has strong strategic partnerships with Rongke Power to manufacture world-leading stacks, Bolong New Materials to produce vanadium electrolyte unmatched for quality, and UniEnergy Technologies which has designed and engineered and is commercially manufacturing its breakthrough compact vanadium battery in its 67.000-square-foot design and production facility near Seattle, capable of manufacturing 100 MW annually.
New location houses research and development as well as manufacturing
Investment of more than 70 million euros
Workforce of some 750 planned by the end of 2014
Cluj-Napoca – On May 9, 2014, Bosch opened its second automotive technology manufacturing plant in Romania. The international supplier of technology and services’ new location in Cluj will produce electronic components and control units for the European automotive industry. These components are used, for instance, in driver assistance and safety systems as well as for energy management. In the future, Cluj will also make the electronic heart of Bosch’s eBike drive. The company has invested more than 70 million euros in the new location, which lies around 450 kilometers northwest of Bucharest and provides a total floor space for industrial use of some 38,000 square meters. By the end of the year, Bosch will already employ a total of 750 associates at the location.
“The new location in Romania is an important pillar for Bosch and will strengthen our European manufacturing and engineering network. Moreover, localizing more of our manufacturing in Eastern Europe will help us increase our competitiveness,” said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the Bosch board of management, at the opening. The new plant forms part of Bosch’s Automotive Electronics division, which develops and manufactures electronic control units, semiconductors, and sensors for the automotive industry and other sectors. With 13 locations around the world, the division employs some 24,000 associates.
Local development of electronics and software in Cluj Bosch has had a presence in Romania since November 2013 through its research and development center in Cluj. This center is focused on developing electronics and software for the products manufactured at the location. In addition, it offers engineering services to other Bosch locations as well as local customers. “It was the access to well-qualified engineers and the opportunity to work actively with the excellent local universities that were decisive factors in choosing this location,” said Hoheisel.
Bosch Group in Romania The Bosch Group has been represented in Romania for 20 years and today employs a total of some 1,700 associates at four locations in the country. In addition to the new research and development center and automotive production plant in Cluj, Bosch has a production location for linear-motion technology and automotive technology in Blaj, as well as a communication center in Timisoara. It has a sales company for power tools, heating systems, security systems, and products for the automotive aftermarket in Bucharest. The capital is also home to a sales office for BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH.
Düsseldorf/Waiblingen – By 2020, Bosch Packaging Technology aims to grow considerably faster than the market, and to further expand its leading position in the realm of process and packaging technology around the world. “We expect to see fundamental change in the market for packaging machinery. We not only want to react to this change, we also aim to help shape it,” said Friedbert Klefenz, President of Bosch Packaging Technology, during the company's press conference at the Interpack trade show in Düsseldorf. On the basis of its PA 2020 strategy, the manufacturer of special machinery aims to continue expanding its business in the established markets, and to grow especially in Asia and Africa. In addition to this, the company intends to spur further growth by venturing into new fields of business.
“We are well on our way to realizing our plans,” Klefenz said. Last year, Bosch Packaging Technology's sales exceeded the one-billion euro mark for the first time. In fiscal 2013, the company increased its sales by 22 percent, from 914 million euros to 1.1 billion euros. This was largely the result of the first-time consolidation of companies such as Hüttlin, Manesty, and Eisai Machinery. After adjusting for consolidation effects, growth was 6.4 percent. Currency effects notwithstanding, Packaging Technology recorded internal growth of ten percent. According to VDMA, a trade association, the packaging machinery sector grew four percent in 2013. Including companies that were consolidated for the first time in the year under review, the company employed 5,600 associates at more than 30 locations, 12 percent more than the previous year.
Moving toward the next decade with the PA 2020 strategy “We expect to keep up this pace of growth in the coming years as well. By the end of 2015, our annual sales are likely to reach the 1.5 billion euro mark,” said Klefenz. “But our plans also go beyond 2015.” Last year, the company defined its strategy up to the end of this decade with PA 2020. The strategy's central aim is to expand the company's current fields of business and markets and to venture into new ones.
Regional shift expected At present, Bosch Packaging Technology generates around 40 percent of its sales in Europe, 30 percent in Asia, and a quarter in North and South America. However, for the coming years, a strong regional shift is expected. “Until the end of this decade, we aim to continue growing strongly in the established markets, such as Europe and North America. At the same time, we will generate far more than a third of our sales in Asia,” said Klefenz. Africa and the Middle East are also gaining significance. “Markets in Europe and the Americas will keep developing continuously. This means that the overall market for packaging machinery will grow. However, in the coming years, there will be a shift in the importance of regional markets,” said Klefenz.
Pharma segment growing strongly The pharma segment is one of the drivers of Bosch Packaging Technology's growth. The company has benefited from the sector's dynamic global development. In the past year, it grew nine percent. In total, this field of business accounts for 52 percent of the company's sales. “This shows that a growing number of people have access to medication. It is also the result of the global growth of the generics business,” said Klefenz. At the same time, more complex substances and the ever-stricter requirements of manufacturers and lawmakers have placed growing demands on the packaging industry. “This calls for major innovative strength,” said Klefenz. In total, Bosch Packaging Technology spent around 4.5 percent of its sales on research and development in 2013.
Food sector: major order in Mexico The equipment business for the food and confectionary industries also developed well. In 2012, Bosch Packaging Technology acquired the largest single order in the company's history. This year, the company will be delivering two packaging lines to a biscuit manufacturer in Mexico. Each line operates with six horizontal filling and sealing machines with fully automatic cartoning that can package more than 17,000 crackers per minute.
Alongside the sale of machinery for dry foods and confectionary, in the coming years Bosch Packaging Technology intends to significantly expand its business in the selected beverages and liquid food segments.
Service business continues to grow Just like the entire industry, Bosch Packaging Technology expects to see the scope and nature of the service business change. “For this reason, comprehensive service is an important part of the PA 2020 strategy. Increasingly, customer expectations can only be met by companies with a broad range of expertise and a strong regional presence. We are one such company, and we offer a growing number of solutions that can be combined with one another in a flexible manner,” said Klefenz. As a result, the company's customers can get everything they need from a single source. This includes process and packaging machinery, as well as technologies for product handling, automation, and inspection. “In short, we offer one stop shopping. The customer contacts us once and receives, if desired, a full turnkey solution for their project. This includes not only machinery and equipment, but also the planning and construction of packaging lines, as well as assembly, maintenance, and service,” said Klefenz.
Save Food Better packaging also means that millions of people are gaining better access to medications and food. Today, a third of the world's food still goes to waste, often as a result of inadequate packaging and storage. For this reason, Bosch Packaging Technology is involved in the UN's “Save Food” initiative. The project was launched in 2011 at the last Interpack trade show in Düsseldorf. “We are proud to be making a contribution,” said Klefenz. “Creating real value-added is also in line with the Bosch 'Invented for life' leitmotiv.”