TREND FORUM “Batteries and accumulators”. When the mower becomes wireless.

TREND FORUM “Batteries and accumulators”. When the mower becomes wireless.

»All in all, the demand for battery-­‐powered devices of various versions continues unabated for the German market in 2013," says Prof. Werner Tillmetz, Member of the Board electrochemical energy technologies STW.


Despite the demand reduction of pedelec, none of the participants of the market & technology trend forum “Battery and accumulators” embrace the idea of a possible saturation of this boom market. Instead, they hold the rainy, cloud-­shrouded German spring of 2013 responsible. "Thus, the bicycle industry denotes a slump about 30 percent, " says Thilo Hack, Director Industrials Solution for Ansmann," which is simply impossible to catch up within the remaining year!" It is not really effective that meanwhile every bicycle dealer in Germany offers at least a pedelec or e-­bike model trying not to lose its market share.

While people have been speculating a lot in the past about the need of the electrification of the golf carts or the vacuum cleaner, it today belongs to many people’s daily life. These electric-­powered trolleys significantly facilitate people’s bulk shopping in cash-­and-­carry stores. “These trolleys can be thought of as electric-­powered wheelbarrow like it was presented this year at Intersolar. These do not only promote the electrification of the recreational area but also spur the semi-professional use of battery-­‐based applications," states Jan Hetzel, Application Engineer at VRI battery technology firm.

The forum participants seem to be somewhat sceptical regarding the future potential of the battery-­‐backed caching of electricity from renewable sources, primarily from photovoltaic systems. Hetzel does not anticipate an explosive boom in this area, as opposed to the pedelec. The now effective alignment of KfW's funding for these applications has been going in the right direction according to Prof. Dr. Karl -­Heinz Pettinger, "though a significant increase in demand will be probably only expected in the next few years when the first PV application is coming from the facilitation and the increase of own consumption not only for the owners of new PV plants is gaining in importance. "

Although it was observed that over 150 suppliers presented such solutions this year at the Intersolar, the participants in the forum pointed to a number of initial problems. Thus, it is not clear yet which electrochemical solution will prevail for this application. Currently, classical lead-­‐acid batteries compete with nickel-­‐metal-­‐hydride and lithium-­‐manganese dioxide and lithium-­‐iron phosphate solutions for this market. Some of the forum participants have second thoughts thoroughly, "if they really want to have a potential bomb in their basement in the event of lithium-­‐manganese dioxide or lithium-­‐iron phosphate solutions. In this context, Prof. Pettinger pointed out that there is currently an import wave undergoing, "which ace not convincingly regarding its safety tests”. In addition, the standardization process is in its infancy affecting the compatibility of the various "storage solutions" with the most widespread solar inverters.

Regarding the subject of e-­‐mobility, the assembled experts primarily focus on hybrid solutions for the German market. "On behalf of the car manufacturers, new objectives concerning the prices of such battery solutions for electric vehicles were designated," recalls Dr. Michael Gnann, founder of MGC Consulting, "but I do not see how these ideas are achieved shortly". Prof. Tillmetz indicates that it will be important for the German automotive industry to master this technology, "yet, decisive will be whether the cooperation of industry, business and politics succeed to build a lead provider in Germany within this field".

How the workhorse of modern mobile technology (the 18650 cell) will continue to progress? Regarding this question, the majority of participants were in agreement: "There is clearly a physical limit on the energy density, which can be stored on this volume level," says Dr. Jürgen Heydecke, Managing Director of Batteries and Power Solutions. This value would probably be around 4 Ah -­‐ an assessment that is shared by the other participants. However, this limit will only be reached in a few years, according to Andreas Jeyarajah, Field Application Engineer at Samsung SDI Europe. "However, the capacities will be expanded gradually in this direction, yet the optimizations are done in small steps, about 3.4 to 3, 5 Ah and so on. "