Pilot innovation competition for breakthrough innovations related to a "world storage”

Billions of people in regions of the Global South have no access to electricity. There is a lack of inexpensive storage facilities to bring electric power from the sun and from wind to households. In industrialized countries, decentralized storage facilities can promote the energy transition by relieving the strain on the power grids. The BMBF is funding the development of a "Weltspeicher" (a worldwide applicable domestic storage device for renewable electric power) in a pilot competition for breakthrough innovations. The competition is aimed at a highly innovative solution for a particularly cost-effective domestic energy storage system.

The global climate targets under the Paris Agreement require worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emssions, for example by pursuing a transition to renewable energies. Due to the fluctuating supply of solar and wind energy, energy storage systems are an important building block for the energy transition. Decentralized storage solutions would massively improve the quality of life, especially in rural areas, and can provide important impulses for sustainable growth. The BMBF's innovation competition initiates the development of a "world storage system" for domestic use, which should at least equal the performance of available systems at significantly lower costs. The prerequisite for funding is the plausible expectation to a major scientific and technological advance in the field of energy storage technology ("breakthrough innovation").

The expected "Weltspeicher" should have the following distinguishing features:

  • A significant reduction in costs of the system compared to the cost forecasts for domestic energy storage systems. The target is a five to ten ratio – the minimum requirement is a cost reduction by half.
  • A broad range of applications in populated, energy-poor regions of the world as well as in Germany and Europe – Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent are target regions in particular; regarding Germany and Europe, the storage systems are meant to operate in cellars and outbuildings.
  • Compatibility with systems for generating renewable electricity, for example photovoltaics and wind turbines; the ability to operate off-grid or grid-integrated, if necessary by means of additional modules.
  • A usable capacity of 10 kWh as a comparative figure, a modular design to allow for smaller or larger capacities is an advantage.A minimum expected lifetime of ten years in daily operation.
  • Energy efficiency and usable power at least in the range of state-of-the-art domestic energy storage systems.Safe, maintenance-free operation without environmental risks.
  • Use of the most environmentally friendly materials possible as well as abundant raw materials.Size and weight are of secondary importance, but must not hamper usability (max. refrigerator size).

The innovation competition

During a first funding period, researchers can elaborate their respective concepts for the "Weltspeicher" for one year's time and provide supporting calculations and measurements. In the subsequent competition among these concepts, up to two "winners" will be chosen for a project phase. In the project phase, the researchers will further develop the "world storage" at least up to the level of a laboratory demonstrator and present concepts for an introduction into the target markets.

The BMBF will provide up to two project consortia with up to € 5 million in funding for a period of up to three years.  

On August 29, 2018, the German Federal Government decided to establish an agency for the promotion of breakthrough innovations. By establishing this agency, the Federal Government is implementing an innovation policy approach to promote disruptive innovations that is unique in Germany up to now. Ground breaking ideas are supposed to give rise to highly innovative products, processes, and services that will allow the German economy to tap into new hi-tech fields, markets, industries, and even business models. This should bring about increased creation of value in Germany and major benefits for the society.

News about the measure

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