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Battery Energy Storage Systems: Storage is software

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What advancements are needed in software capabilities/functionality to reach the goal of 100GW by 2030?

 

The goal of 100GWh by 2030 is already possible with today’s power and energy management systems. However, to increase the reliability of the system and move towards greener choices like using second life batteries, tomorrow’s Power and Energy Management Systems will have to be faster, smarter and capable of managing increasingly larger quantities of data with maximum security of the energy assets.

 

How has software’s role in energy storage changed in the last five years? How is your company providing/supporting the development of software to meet this goal?

 

In an independent study on battery energy storage safety conducted by consultants for one of the most prominent battery manufacturers to identify the root causes leading to plant failures and fires it was found that the primary causes were two: poor performance of the power conversion system and poor system integration. These findings highlighted the importance not only of the overall system design but also of the software installed and the key role it plays in ensuring that energy storage systems operate safely and efficiently. An algorithm is robust if it can achieve anywhere from 4% to 10% better performance in the state-of-health of the batteries over time. In simple terms the algorithm keeps the battery operating within its optimal window of performance in terms of depth of charge and discharge.  This not only ensures that the batteries do not overheat, it also improves the battery life cycle with less degradation over time, offering Customers better assurances that the system will perform and reduces warranty risks. As interest in using second life batteries for energy storage increases, the development of even more innovative algorithms that can manage data on the state-of-health and charging profile down to the single module, rather than at the rack level, will be key for future deployments and better overall performance of the energy storage systems.

 

Algorithms are also evolving in the field of real time control of big data. Power Management Systems for Energy Storage must manage millions of data points and react to energy and power demands in less than 120 milliseconds (to put this in perspective, the average blink of an eye is 400 milliseconds) and the race is on to reduce this time even further. This translates into greater accuracy in energy control as well as real-time diagnostics and troubleshooting, not to mention Virtual Power Plant functions that allow decentralized assets to be managed from a single control center. Robust Energy and Power Management Systems, preferably based on real-time industrial automation platforms that have been used in thousands of mills and factories across the globe, tend to offer the highest reliability and can draw on R&D efforts across a multitude of fields as there is constant effort to enhance the speed and performance of control algorithms with a focus on optimizing both energy consumption and production, which translates in better load management.

The ability to dialogue with other systems on the grid is fundamental, and another key area in which software will evolve is in communication protocols and cyber-security. Energy assets are a vital backbone in any nation and must be protected.

The final area of improvements will be on the energy management system, increasing the predictability of energy production and usage as well as calculating the best usage of the assets to maximize revenue streams and ensure availability of electricity at all times to everyone on the grid. Being able to decide in real-time whether to provide frequency regulation, charge a car, or simply hold on to the energy for later usage is a complex multi-factor decision that must take into account the impact this decision will have on all of the stakeholders connected to the grid.

Nidec Industrial Solutions is active in several key projects across the globe on the above topics, working with leading players like Renault on the use of second life batteries, and EDF on improving the predictability of wind energy production. And our internal R&D team is entirely focused on the improvement of real-time control systems both in terms of speed and performance for better load management to optimize the energy consumption of our industrial customers.

 

About Nidec Industrial Solutions

Nidec Industrial Solutions is Europe’s top Utility Scale Battery Energy Storage providers and has ranked amongst the world’s top three for the past five years. With a manufacturing base in Cleveland, Ohio the group is now present in North America and just recently commissioned a large Utility scale BESS project for Enel Green Power in Lily, Texas.

 

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