(Repetition of the report from June 7. In the second paragraph, the second sentence was reworded: "This would be sufficient to replace a gas-fired power plant" (instead of: "This would roughly correspond to the capacity of a gas-fired power plant."). The capacity of power plants is not measured in megawatt hours and is not directly comparable with the capacity of a battery storage system).

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - The Volkswagen Group is entering into the operation of large battery storage systems for the power grid. The first so-called "Power Center", which temporarily stores green electricity, will be connected to the grid in Germany next year, announced Chief Technology Officer Thomas Schmall in Berlin on Friday. The site will be in northern Germany and the ground-breaking ceremony is set to take place in the next six to eight weeks. "And we will go online at the beginning of next year," said Schmall. "We will then be in the concrete implementation phase."

The plant will be operated by VW's charging network division Elli. The capacity will initially be 700 megawatt hours and can later be expanded to one gigawatt hour, said Schmall. That would be enough to replace a gas-fired power plant. Further "Power Centers" are to follow. The Group is thus opening up a new business segment in a growing market.

Buffer for wind and solar power

The systems are intended to serve as a buffer for wind and solar energy and thus help to stabilize the power grid. "Our investments in stationary battery storage systems are therefore a significant contribution to the sustainable transformation of the energy supply," said Schmall. After all, wind turbines and solar plants still have to be switched off again and again when there is an oversupply. This can be changed with large battery storage systems.

VW assumes that the demand for such battery storage systems in Germany will increase tenfold in the coming years. So far, only one gigawatt hour of storage has been available in Germany. "We will double that with this one Power Center alone," says Schmall.

Second use for old e-car batteries

Europe's largest car manufacturer is also opening up another area of application for used e-car batteries that no longer have sufficient power in the car but can still absorb enough electricity for large-scale storage. Schmall admitted that the first system will initially have to use brand-new batteries, as there are not yet enough returns from electric cars. "They are only now coming our way." In the future, however, the "Power Centers" will specifically use decommissioned electric car batteries before they are recycled in a third step.

VW had already opened a smaller Power Center in Kassel last year, with which the Group's Elli division has been participating in trading on the electricity market ever since. The center uses disused battery systems from the now discontinued E-Up small electric car. Other car manufacturers such as BMW and Audi also use used batteries as stationary power storage units, but so far only for their own energy supply or at charging stations./fjo/DP/men