The salt batteries that could power Berlin

3 min

Berlin, capital of Germany, and European centre for art, music and tech start-ups is now trialling its latest innovative solution – salt batteries

It’s an exciting time for energy both here and overseas, and as the global industry continues to evolve there are some incredible innovations being rolled out and tested. At the Reuter thermal power plant in Spandau, Berlin (which has a total storage capacity of 10 MWh). Swedish energy company Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat, and Swedish start-up SaltX Technology have been testing how renewable wind and solar power can be stored in salt on an industrial scale.

The test, which is scheduled to run until the end of the (European) summer this year, is taking advantage of a chemical reaction that occurs when quicklime becomes wet: the salt-like grains soak up the water, becoming calcium hydroxide and releasing large amounts of heat in the process.

According to Vattenfall, the process imitates how batteries work, except that instead of electricity, the system stores heat. The patented technology developed by SaltX Technology is based on nano-coated salt and enables this “salt battery” to be charged several thousand times and that energy can be stored for weeks or months. The process can also absorb ten times more energy than water, which is currently used for power-to-heat facilities. And unlike tanks of hot water, which slowly cool down over time, the system can retain the chemically-trapped energy for far longer.

The trial at the Reuter power plant is part of a longer term rebuilding effort at the facility, and when it concludes the test data will be evaluated (along with the technology and functionality) and results presented at the end of 2019.

This could signify the beginning of a massive sustainability shift for the city of Berlin and be an exciting benchmark for similar energy storage projects around the globe.

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*As the system and market operator, we are fuel and technology neutral. The products, services and providers in this content are for illustrative purposes only and are not endorsed by AEMO.

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