Alejandro Fajer
CEO and Co-Founder
Quartux Mexico
/
Expert Contributor

Battery Storage: Do’s and Don’ts

By Alejandro Fajer | Fri, 10/01/2021 - 12:48

As the advantages of battery storage become increasingly evident, more and more players are inclined to offer this solution to their clients. From the outset, it may seem like a positive development for the energy storage business: more market awareness, more capacity installed and more local credibility for a relatively unestablished technology. Nevertheless, this positive initiative can rapidly become a hazard as inexperienced sellers underestimate the complexity in designing, installing and operating these types of systems.

Here is a brief insight into the do’s and don’ts for a successful installation and efficient operation of energy storage systems.

Batteries are complicated and extremely complex devices. As such, they require a sophisticated agenda to bring about their full potential and achieve maximum lifespan. If you are looking to sell or acquire any type of energy storage system, there are three key areas that, given their interdependent nature, cannot be overlooked and should be thoroughly examined by trained and experienced companies like Quartux:

  1. Choosing the right application and system design

The first step is to be clear which battery storage applications adjust best to your needs.

Because they are such complex systems, batteries can provide many different applications simultaneously, ranging from power quality to grid support or load shifting. The approach should be the same as buying a motor vehicle: What do I need the car for? Load transport, racing, off-road, a mix of all of that? To answer this question for storage one must procure a system valuation to find the maximum revenue streams or operational benefits and associate them with the right storage applications.

Once the use case is determined, the next step is to find the optimal design of all components of an integrated energy system that can meet that specific design target with the minimum investment, longest lifetime and greatest impact.

To do this, it is necessary to first have a deep understanding of specific battery technologies, including the materials, technical characteristics, guarantees, safety guidelines, certifications, and compatibility with other on-site generation assets (solar, diesel plants, etc.) and control systems. Just as a sports car isn’t the best bet for transporting cargo, a specific battery technology will not be the same for all applications.

With the right choice of technology then comes the system sizing: finding the exact system dimensions with the biggest economical or operational impact to optimize investment by not oversizing or having unused capacity. To do this, it is necessary to understand not only the use case but how efficiently the system is going to operate; namely, who is the “driver” of the vehicle and what types of decisions are they going to make?

  1. Optimization of use: leveraging full capacity of storage

As any great driver will tell you, having the best car is not enough to win the race. Once the right system design is selected a smart and efficient software control is crucial for an efficient and trustworthy operation. Companies like Quartux have recognized this importance and have developed specific software that optimizes energy storage system performance, improves system ROI for specific use cases and reduces the risk that the system will suffer suboptimal performance or failure. This type of software control provides system owners with the flexibility they need to use their energy storage systems for several different applications, helping them tap into multiple revenue streams by reacting to real-time variables and deciding when and how to charge and discharge the battery. Understanding what impacts storage lifetime and actively managing storage assets through smart software can lead to an increase of 40 percent in ROI and a 20 percent increase in battery lifetime as seen in Quartux installed and operating systems.

  1. Forecasting battery lifetime: degradation, repowering and decommissioning

The final area that needs to be considered before, during and after installing a storage system is the amount of energy required to meet the project's economic goals, considering the degradation throughout the project's life cycle with degradation monitoring and cell balancing. In hand with efficient day-to-day operation, battery storage systems additionally require state-of-health monitoring of every module and battery component as well as previous consideration of all affecting variables (temperature, pressure, humidity). This information (with its respective analysis) is critical not only for a safe and reliable operation but also in preparation for warranty claims, repowering and lengthening of the system’s lifetime. Adding new capacity needs to be considered beforehand, given spatial needs, technical and engineering plans, as well as adding new technology to the existing storage system along with smart asset monitoring will lengthen the project’s life cycle and increase economic return. Finally, after concluding its life cycle, the system must be decommissioned and recycled with anticipative planning to gain further revenue and decrease carbon footprint.

It is important to highlight that these three steps only briefly describe what is necessary for a successful installation, operation and decommissioning of an energy storage system and only serve as informative. If you are planning to install a storage system, it is necessary to consult an expert in these areas. Quartux is one of the companies that have acquired this expertise and offer services and specific developed software that assure a correct design, efficient operation and maximization of the economic benefits all along the project life cycle of the storage system.

Including a specific use case design and smart software control with dispatch strategies across the entire life cycle of an operational battery will limit degradation, improve operation and lengthen battery lifetime. A Formula One champion needs the best car and the best driver to win the race.

Photo by:   Alejandro Fajer