Automobile Firms Rush to Grab Their Piece of the Energy Storage Market

A German “gigafactory” is about to be developed by Daimler to supply batteries for EVs and residential energy systems.
Published: Mon 07 Mar 2016

It was a matter of time before Tesla Motor’s battery caused a few competitors in the stationary energy storage and electric vehicle market to sweat. We wrote recently how Tesla’s Model S has disrupted the EV market by outselling luxury vehicles. 

Tesla has also snapped up the opportunities that residential energy storage is offering. The company partnered with solar installer company SolarCity to roll out a rooftop solar-battery combination. SolarCity offers a battery backup service that includes all permitting and installation. [Home Energy Storage Is Here] The system uses Tesla's Powerwall, available in 10kWh and 7kWh capacities, and uses a time of use energy-shifting algorithm. Tesla has been flooded with orders for their cost effective Powerwall battery - a clear indication that the need for energy storage solutions like this one is growing fast. [E.ON Jumps On The Energy Storage Bandwagon.]

It is clear that Tesla is giving the energy storage market a serious kickstart and a number of companies are keen to get their piece of a lucrative and exciting market. One such company is German automobile producer BMW and heating systems manufacturer Viessmann Group. They have partnered under the name Digital Energy Solutions to offer energy storage and management solutions. 

The latest entrant is German car manufacturer, Daimler. The company has announced that it is developing its own battery technology and plans to compete against the Tesla Powerwall with Benz-branded battery backup power systems for the residential and business sector.

Deutsche ACCUmotive storage plans

Deutsche ACCUmotive, Daimler’s  subsidiary will begin construction of a new €500 million (US$544 million) lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in the third quarter of 2016. Batteries for electric and hybrid Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, along with stationary storage products for commercial and residential customers will be produced in this factory. The Mercedes-Benz residential storage systems can be ordered already. Residential battery units include 2.5kWh and 5.9kWh models. These can be combined into a larger 20kWh storage system. Deutsche ACCUmotive entered the stationary storage market last year, having announced the strategic move towards the end of 2014.

The new Deutsche ACCUmotive factory will be located adjacent to a €100 million (US$109 million) lithium ion facility, the construction of which announced in 2014. The new facility will increase the battery factory floor space from 20,000m2 to 60,000m2. The factory is to be located in Germany’s Saxony.

Groundbreaking on the new manufacturing facility is expected to take place in the northern hemisphere autumn, with full production scheduled for summer 2017. The company claims to be developing 29 MWh of industrial battery storage installations.

Energy storage grows competitive

There is no doubt that the energy storage industry is experiencing massive growth across the globe. As countries adopt policies to integrate renewable energy, energy storage becomes a priority. Utilities and consumers are investing in solar photovoltaic systems and storage solutions to lower their bills, improve reliability of supply and reduce their carbon footprints.

As competitors rush to get a piece of the market, battery storage will only become more cost effective, much like solar panels.

As the number of competitors grow in this space there will be a need for innovation to improve quality and cost effectiveness. So far, Tesla seems to be getting it with its fair pricing and forward thinking that resulted in the SuperCharger network for instance.

We asked last year whether car manufacturers can tip home energy storage and we think that Tesla is already on the right track. [Will Auto Manufacturers Tip Home Energy Storage?]