Night storage heaters as winners of the energy transition?

First, they should be banned because they are technically outdated and ecologically catastrophic to say the least: night storage heaters. But now it could be a comeback for the old power guzzlers - a first practical trial was already positive. Read more here.

Problem green electricity

Wind turbines already deliver very high electricity volumes in Germany today. More often more than we need at all. As early as 2011, more than 407 gigawatt hours of electricity were lost that nobody needed. This amount even equals more than the annual electricity requirement for a city of one hundred thousand inhabitants.

The problem: Wind turbines produce electricity when the wind blows - and not when it is needed. Therefore, the technology is only limited to cover the so-called base load. However, the amount of electricity that comes from the plants can not be cached in times of low demand - the wind turbines are switched off before the grid would be overloaded.

Surplus electricity is expensive for electricity companies: they would have to pay to get rid of the unused electricity. This surplus electricity could be delivered very cheaply to households.

Existing night storage heaters suffice

After lifting the ban on night storage heaters, about 1.4 million night storage heaters are currently in operation in Germany. According to RWE, this represents a potential of about 10 gigawatts, in which electricity could be "cached".

A test with 50 households has already shown that the possibility is basically economically sensible. Not only the electricity providers would benefit, but also the owners of night storage devices. You could get the excess electricity very cheap, and heat it. Necessary is only the retrofitting of an electronic control system that responds to temperature and price signals, and cheap electricity recharges.

Conceivable further possibilities

It would also be conceivable to use such night storage heaters only as additional heaters. For example, with an electric heating element, which additionally heats the water in the heating system with the cheap electricity, thus reducing the consumption of oil and gas.

Anyone who operates a solar thermal heating system or heats with solar power could easily and economically offset supply gaps instead of having to resort to expensive electricity from the public grid.

Criticism of technology

The technical possibilities look interesting at first glance, in particular to compensate for the high losses due to the lack of network capacity. The planned technology also meets with criticism from many environmentalists.

Overnight storage ovens are a "dinosaur technology", which has nothing to do in modern households, and moreover, the project's primary purpose is to spare the large electricity suppliers expensive investments. Greenpeace argues that the operation of night storage heaters produces a multiple of greenhouse gases - much more than modern gas condensing boilers or pellet heaters.

At night storage heaters as a way to use the electricity generated from a photovoltaic system itself low for heating, obviously no one has thought. This would be a logical application, and probably cheaper than other storage technologies for electricity.

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