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Discovering the Spectrum of Energy Storage Technologies at ees Europe

Discovering the Spectrum of Energy Storage Technologies at ees Europe

| Jan-Hendrik Ernst, Applications Engineering Manager

This month at ees Europe in Munich I had the pleasure of presenting "Ultracapacitors: A Mature and Powerful Energy Source" in the non-battery energy storage technologies session. The ees Europe conference and exhibition is held annually and is the premier event for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and users of electrical energy storage from medium scale to large scale projects. Participating in the session was an excellent opportunity to present the various benefits of ultracapacitor energy storage, including its great performance in terms of high power density, fast-response time, long life and ability to perform reliably in a wide temperature range.

The audience was interested in the various stationary and mobile applications of ultracapacitor storage technology, such as grid scale storage and transportation. One of the grid applications I discussed is PV intermittency smoothing. Ultracapacitors provide short-time energy when clouds cover a photovoltaic (PV) generation plant to increase the output power quality of the plant by increasing predictability and stability of PV generation. Ultracapacitors are typically combined with a battery system to provide service stacking such as intermittency smoothing, ramp rate control and load shifting.

To demonstrate high cycling capabilities and fast charge and discharge rates I shared how ultracapacitors are used in hybrid harbor cranes. Ultracapacitors have high charge capabilities to regenerate energy rapidly with high efficiency; the energy the crane regenerates whilst lowering a container is used to support the lifting of the next container which also takes stress off of the primary energy source such as the grid or the diesel engine. The increasing price of fossil fuels and the pressure to further reduce CO2 emissions in the harbors are both key drivers for ultracapacitor systems in such industrial applications.

Other topics in the session included hydrogen energy storage technology, current developments in flywheel storage technology, and offshore pumped hydro storage. The different storage technologies each represent a different time window of storing energy from short-term to long-term or system scale from watt to gigawatt. Each technology has specifications where they fit best. Ultracapacitors are a competitive mature technology, and there are several specifications in which ultracapacitors are the most efficient solution in comparison to other energy storage technologies. This applies to applications where high power density and immediate availability is the key. Ultracapacitor storage is very flexible in scaling from system sizes from watt (cell) to kW (modules) to MW (cabinet/container) systems.

For example, flywheels and the pumped hydro technologies are competing in the short, high power burst time range. Ultracapacitors are electrical storage devices based on an electrostatic charge and discharge process which enables rapid charge exchange. Flywheels have similar power provision capabilities although they are highly mechanical and have a lot of auxiliary devices required to have the system up and running and well monitored. The audience and speakers participated in a long discussion at the end of the session about beneficial aspects of the various technologies. Flywheels tend to be a complex and massive solution but they are now scalable and are becoming more flexible. Ultracapacitors have shown their advantage in less complexity of the overall system and very secure operation over a long life time with low maintenance needs.

The energy storage space is an exciting one, and it was clear from this year’s exhibition that within the entire spectrum of energy storage technologies, ultracapacitors, also referred to as supercapacitors, are gaining more adoption for systems requiring high-power bursts in short timeframes, such as frequency and voltage control applications. The presence of different technologies allows the industry to choose the best fit for their applications.

Maxwell Technologies will be in Cologne, Germany next for Power-Gen Europe.  We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events.

READ NEXT: Global Wind Day: Strides in Ultracapacitor Energy Storage

JanJan-Hendrik Ernst
Applications Engineering Manager
About this author

Dipl.-Ing. Jan-Hendrik Ernst is applications engineering manager at Maxwell Technologies, the leading manufacturer and supplier of ultracapacitor cell technology. Ernst specializes in energy storage system design and consults EMEA clients employing ultracapacitors for a variety of grid energy storage applications such as Frequency control, Power Quality, and renewable integration, for Utilities, System Operators and leading Industry players. Ernst consults clients from the design-in phase through the completion of the storage project, providing his expertise in deploying full ultracapacitor storage systems and in the hybridization of grid solutions with batteries. He is a member of the European Association of Storage of Energy (EASE) and European Technology & Innovation Platforms Smart Networks for Energy Transition (ETIP-SNET).

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