Electricity Storage in The Netherlands

Posted by Marcel van der Steen in Energy storage 3 Comments»

Is it available? Or can it be created? The Dutch program “Nieuwe Energie Onderzoek” of Senternovem gave the Utrecht Center for Energy Research the task to find out. Their final report researches whether electricity storage can be of support for a durable energy generation. Considered are three applicational areas:

  1. grid coupled storage systems
  2. autonomous storage systems
  3. electricity storage in transport media


Classification of available systems

Some systems are typically meant to deliver a lot of power in a short timeframe, such as flywheels and capacitors. Other systems can deliver a certain power for hours, such as pump accumulation plants and air pressure systems.
See below an image with many examples, with on its x-axis power and on the y-axis the discharge time.

Plaatje van opslagsystemen

(Source: Electricity Storage Association)

The different energy options are well explained in the final report, see for that pp 9, 10 en 11.

Besides, there are other ways to characterize storage systems, such as discharge losses when not charging or discharging to load (flywheels), the efficiency of a full charge and discharge cycle, the number of cycles in the total system lifetime, etc. A global overview of the characteristics of different energy storage systems is given in this table (see also the report, page 8).

storage system capacity lifetime self-discharge efficiency cycle typical discharge time costs
unit kWh cycli %/mnth % hour €/kWh
Lead-acid battery 1-40k 200-1200 2-5 75-80 0,5-5 200-900
NiMH & NiCd battery 1-40k 1k-3k 0,5-2 60-70 0,2-1
Lithium battery 15 3k-5k 1 95 0,5 500-2500
NaS battery 1-50k 1k-4k None 80-85 8 225-400
Zink-Bromide battery 50-500 1k None 65-75 0,5-3 1500
Vanadium flow battery 50-2k 5k-12k None 80-87 1-8 100-500
Regenesys flow battery 120k 1k5-3k None 70-85 1-8 600-3k
Metal-air battery 1-10 100 7-10 40-50 1-8
CAES -3M 10s yrs None 50-80 hours 30-115
Pump accumulation -100M 10s yrs None 70-85 hours 3,5
Flywheels 1-10 105-107 NB: 30-40/hour 90 NB: sec-min 1500
Supercapacitors 1-100 105-107 20-30 90 NB: sec 10k
SMES 0,1-3 10s yrs <1 95 NB: sec 300-2k

With SMES is meant Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage, and CAES means Compressed Air Energy Storage

Possibilities for Storage Systems

When reviewing all of the above mentioned options, see the following table showing the major possibilities lying within the area “Grid-coupled systems”.

application area storage type Role (current) Role (future)
Grid-coupled systems Pump accumulation
  • Maintain balance in grid
  • Maintain balance
  • Introduce durable energy
  • Maintain balance
  • Maintain balance
  • Introduce durable energy
Flow batteries
  • Power security
  • Maintain balance
Batteries Power security (UPS) Power security (UPS)
SMES Voltage quality
Flywheels Power security Power security
Autonomous systems Batteries
  • Portable systems
  • Remote systems
  • Portable systems
  • Remote systems
Systems in transport vehicles Batteries
  • Start vehicle
  • Alternative propulsion
  • Fuel saving (hybrid vehicles)
  • Start vehicle
  • Alternative propulsion
  • Fuel saving (hybrid vehicles)
Flywheels Fuel saving (buses etc)
Hydrogen Alternative energycarrier

From a DTI study in 2004 I took the following figure, in which the development phase of different technologies is given as a function of their system power range and typical application area.
Plaatje over elektriciteitsopslagtechnologieën

Source, DTI.

Big Scale Grid Coupled Systems

It appears from both overviews that for big scale grid coupled areas (> 100 MW) only pump accumulation systems are available as well as compressed air. In the future, the latter can obtain a bigger part of the market, especially when the adiabatic advanced storage (AA-CAES) is developed further with a higher efficiency.

Middle Scale Grid Coupled Systems

For middle size systems (0,1-10 MW) batteries (lead acid and NiCd) are still superior, but redox-flow batteries provide options as well. For short time power support in this range, flywheels are commercially available as well as SMES systems.

Small Grid Coupled Systems

For the small grid coupled storage systems (10-100 kW) the Ni-MH and Li-ion batteries are of increased importance, mainly for vehicle applications. Flywheels are used for trams and buses. Storage of hydrogen is still in a fundamental research phase.

Small Grid Coupled Systems

For the smallest storage systems (< 1kW) the Ni-MH and Li-ion systems are superior. In cases with high power demand of short duration, the use of super capacitors is appropriate. On this webpage we have an article on super capacitors, about one in development, and when this one becomes available, it will give a good potential for high power and long energy duration storage for use with wind turbine parks as well as potentially widely distributed (one in every home).

Support of the Durable Energy System

What is meant by durable energy system

In the above mentioned report, a durable energy system is defined as an energy system with the following characteristics:

  1. clean (i.o.w. the climate will not change or disturbed)
  2. safe (without big risks)
  3. efficient
  4. reliable
  5. affordable
  6. offers a long term perspective
  7. acceptable to Society
  8. supports local job opportunities and industrial development
  9. does not recognize “lock-in” effects
  10. preferably available all over the world

What is missing in this list, in my opinion, is the question of whether the __energy balance__ is positive. See also this article on energy balance. It may be implicit in point 6; where the energy system is required to offer a long term perspective. Also a remark on point 1, that it shall not disturb the climate. This is very subjective. One person might say a wind turbine disturbs the local climate, where the other will say the digging for new Uranium and disposal of used Uranium is disturbing the climate (see also the digging to Uranium.
My opinion about this list is that there are different priorities to be put on the different points measured, to be really meaningful. For instance, items 3 and 5 are not really of importance, and strictly speaking, perhaps not even points 4, 8,9 and 10. If we really focus on durable energy systems, then these shall fulfill the following items: 1, 2, 6, 7 and need definitely have a positive energy balance.

The Applicability of Grid Coupled Energy Systems

Different parties are interviewed and give their view on the applicability of different storage systems.

Group / company Directly applicable share Indirectly applicable
Grid coupled systems KEMA Storage is needed to introduce bog wind powers into the grid
Tennet Storage is needed to introduce bog wind powers into the grid
ECN Storage to solve for imbalance gives cost reduction and indirect added value
Autonomous systems Philips (and TU/e)
  • Extend lifetime batteries
  • less toxic materials
  • improve recycling
TU Delft Storage brings solar energy nearer
Transport vehicles CCM Flywheels deliver a 10 % reduction at buses and trams
Ecofys Connect electricity supply with mobility: durable sources will soon feed PHEV cars

Note: PHEV is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

The biggest contribution of electrical storage systems is to be expected in grid coupled systems, and this is also its biggest added value to the support of durable energy systems such as wind turbines and solar energy, that deliver a very variable power.

3 replies on “Electricity Storage in The Netherlands”

Excellent article and very nice graphics. I saw this article on your Dutch website and am glad I can finally see it in English. I see a lot of relevance in this topic here in the States as we watch our energy prices soar. Until now most Americans have been content to depend on government to supply power but we are seeing more people looking for alternative energy sources now. Thanks for a very thought provoking piece.

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