The head of Siemens-Gamesa, Marcus Tacke says the company is to put more emphasis on developing battery storage technology, in order to complement its wind division’s activities.

The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer now wants to make renewable energy sources available on demand, even when the wind was not blowing and the sun was not shining, thereby requiring more resources in storage.
Marcus Tacke of Siemens Gamesa
“The missing part is storage,” Tacke said in an interview with the Financial Times. “To unlock the potential growth limitations, that is the piece of technology that needs to be developed.”

 Mr Tacke pointed out that as the cost of wind turbines has come down, it made sense to pair them with solar or storage to create a more consistent source of power.

As part of its push, Siemens Gamesa has invested more in batteries and other types of energy storage, including a hot rock plant (where surplus power is retained by heating rocks) that helps provide power for an aluminium smelter in Hamburg. The company is also testing a vanadium redox-flow battery system — a niche technology that some people believe could eventually rival lithium-ion batteries for energy storage — at a research facility in Spain.

 “Wind is an industry that needs scale to deliver — to leverage research and development costs, to leverage global spread, to leverage suppliers,” said Mr Tacke. “Volume helps to be competitive in the current environment.”

Tacke added that more consolidation could be on the way for the wind industry, particularly among tier two and tier three suppliers. Prices for wind turbines have fallen sharply over the past decade, and as margins have become thinner the number of turbine manufacturers has also fallen. Despite global wind installations falling since 2015, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, Mr Tacke said he believed the market would soon return to growth.

The market for offshore wind turbines will grow more than twice as quickly as for onshore wind turbines, according to Mr Tacke, who predicted 13 per cent annual growth offshore, and 5 per cent annual growth onshore.

Battery storage is one of the hot topics at Electrify Europe next month in Vienna. Find out more and register here.