Residential Batteries in Germany To Provide Primary Balancing Power for Grid Operator

Last week residential battery provider sonnen and its technology partner, tiko Energy Solutions, said that they have obtained pre-qualification from the transmission system operator TenneT to provide primary balancing power using its Germany-wide network of residential battery storage systems.

As a result, sonnen will be providing the energy market with the largest virtual battery currently available consisting exclusively of thousands of individual energy storage systems installed across the entire country. When fluctuations arise in the power grid, these batteries independently arrange themselves into a large-scale virtual battery.

Since each sonnen batterie has a different state of charge, the large number of individual batteries will be aggregated into blocks starting at 1 MW, which are then made available to the energy market. During TenneT’s certification of the virtual battery, it had to first discharge one megawatt of power to the grid and then re-charge the same amount back from it within 30 seconds. By passing the test, the virtual battery qualified for participation in the so-called primary operating reserve market.

The power from the virtual battery can be used to rapidly compensate for short-term fluctuations in the power grid within the shortest possible time. If deviations arise in the grid frequency of 50 Hz, the energy storage systems are able to automatically, and in a matter of seconds, either supply energy to the power grid or take energy from it — depending on what is currently required. 

The job of primary balancing has mainly been that of CO2-intensive power stations; sonnen’s networked residential energy storage systems are helping accelerate the removal of these power stations from the grid in Germany.

The company said it is now able to act as the utility of the future. 

“The ability of networked battery storages operating as a virtual power plant to stabilize the grid in the event of frequency fluctuations is another step on the way to a greater system integration of renewable energy,” said Lex Hartman, CEO of TenneT. 

System services that serve to stabilize the power supply would previously be provided mainly by conventional power plants. With the increasing share of renewable energies in electricity generation, renewables will need to take on a greater responsibility, Hartman said.

sonnen will be exhibiting at the upcoming at the upcoming DistribuTECH, which takes place in New Orleans, LA from February 4-6, 2019. DER Management and Control and Energy Storage are just two of the many topics that will be discussed during the event.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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