It’s common to hear of homes going off the grid. But entire towns? The city of Bordesholm in Germany recently made renewable energy news as the first city in the world to disconnect from the grid. The city only unplugged from the grid for about an hour. Nevertheless, it was a promising start for the renewable sector. The move has also inspired renewable energy companies to help towns and communities create a grid-less energy supply for a longer period of time in the future.
Bordesholm is located in Schleswig-Holstein. It was also formerly the district capital of the Weimar Republic. The town is popular for its historic buildings and picturesque natural areas. It is also a pioneer in the area of renewable energy. The town previously made renewable energy news in January 2018 for its alternative energy endeavors. Then, it was selected as the site for a massive 10 megawatt (MW) energy storage site for wind energy. The town partnered with the RES group to create a large renewable energy storage site. This storage capacity also provided power for the town when it disconnected from the grid in December 2019. The partnership was funded through the European Union, national incentives, and local funding sources.
Bordesholm’s Renewable Energy Project
The RES Group, which is the company that created the large energy storage reserve, notes that the project has a peak power output of 10MW. The storage facility has up to 15MWh of storage capacity. The power is stored using special batteries made of lithium, cobalt, manganese, and nickel. The batteries are called “Li-NMC” for short. The renewable energy storage facility, which was originally built in 2018, also gets ongoing maintenance, service, and repairs from the RES Group. Through this system alone, Bordesholm operates with 75% renewable energy. For the town’s 8,000 residents, however, 75% is not enough. They are hoping to disconnect from the grid full-time starting in 2020.
A Work in Progress
While the town’s energy storage system holds tremendous promise, there are some additional complexities that must be resolved before the town can fully disconnect from the conventional utility grid. The current system is connected to the local grid, which is owned and operated by TenneT. The grid serves as a source of backup power for the energy storage unit’s large battery. The storage capacity is designed to function as an independent local grid when it has sufficient power reserves, which means it can provide Bordesholm’s energy without having to use fossil fuel-based electricity. Although the fine details have yet to be worked out to make the city 100% sustainable around the clock, the project’s engineers are encouraged by the fact that so far, Bordesholm has been able to disconnect from the grid in short increments without a hitch. While the energy it generates may not be enough yet to supply the town with 100% renewable electricity all the time, it has certainly helped the city offset carbon emissions and lower its environmental impact.
A Role Model for Others
Although the city and project owner are still searching for ways to disconnect Bordesholm from the grid completely, the project has sparked similar ideas elsewhere. Another system integrator in Germany, called Storage Solutions and Aggreko Microgrid, is creating a similar mechanism to create a large-scale storage system for renewable electricity. A major European utility provider called National Grid has also shown interest in creating similar renewable electricity storage solutions throughout the continent.
As the world turns towards renewable energy for a viable and sustainable source of power, the German town of Bordesholm is leading the way. With an ambitious goal to completely disconnect from the grid in 2020, the town is inspiring communities in Germany and across Europe to do the same.