German coal mining company LEAG plans to build a massive clean energy center that will include up to 14 GW of wind and solar power generation, 2 GWh to 3 GWh of battery energy storage and 2 GW of green hydrogen production. Together, these technologies are expected to create a net-zero energy system.
The center comprises up to 14 GW of solar and wind energy production, 2 GWh to 3 GWh of battery energy storage and 2 GW of green hydrogen production.
The first large-scale project was announced this week at Intersolar Europe in Munich. The coal miner signed an agreement with NYSE-listed battery specialist ESS to build a 50 MW/500 MWh battery system to replace the 2.5 MW Boxberg coal-fired power plant in Saxony, eastern Germany.
It will be commissioned in 2027 and will cost 200 million euros ($218.9 million). The initial investment comes from LEAG and partners, who have possible subsidies at a later stage.
“The most important requirement for becoming Germany’s Green Powerhouse is the implementation of cost-effective long-term energy storage,” said LEAG CEO Thorsten Kramer.
In addition to the long-lasting BESS, LEAG also installs short-lasting lithium-ion batteries on site. The company, East Germany’s leading operator of large-scale lignite mining and coal production, plans to introduce a scaled-up renewable energy system to replace baseload coal generation, while using battery storage and hydrogen to replace natural gas to balance the grid.
“If you want to replace natural gas, you have to have long-term storage,” said Aland Greenshields, European director of ESS. pv magazine.
Greenshields announced that the company’s current operations include an 80 MW fully automated production line near Portland, Oregon. The possibility of significant transactions would enable the expansion of operations. Greenshields saw increasing the rate of scaling as a primary challenge.
ESS systems have already been deployed in commercial microgrid systems, and utility projects are currently underway in the United States and Australia. Final contracts and financial close for the 50 MW system at the Boxberg power plant are expected in the third quarter of this year, with commissioning expected in 2027.
LEAG and ESS have joined the Energy Resilience Leadership Group (ERLG), a multi-stakeholder initiative led by Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy and Siemens Energy. The group was established at the 2023 Munich Security Conference to improve Europe’s energy resilience.