The Future of Energy Storage: A Guide to Battery Solutions

The Future of Energy Storage: A Guide to Battery Solutions

April 2023
Renewables, Sustainability
 min reading

Battery Energy Storage Systems are changing the way we store energy. These commercial batteries are part of the solution to the current and future energy issues. But what is it? How does it work? Is it for me?

The energy market is undergoing a significant transition, marked by a strong shift to renewable energy.

This is driven by four key trends:

  • Decarbonisation - That is the reduction or elimination of carbon dioxide emissions from the energy production process.
  • Decentralisation - There is a move to local power generation rather than larger more centralised power generation.
  • Digitalisation - Most of our power networks were built before the digital age. AI is particularly impacting our energy generation and usage. 
  • Demographic change - Changes in population size and structure caused by changes in birth rates, death rates, and by migration.

There is a need to navigate this changing landscape as businesses need reliable, cost effective, energy solutions that are going to provide stability into the future.

Renewable energy generation is part of the solution, but is limited by fluctuating weather conditions. 

A battery energy storage solution is another part of the solution. One that can help provide further cost reduction, reliability, security and energy independence.

What is a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)?

A Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) refers to a system that stores electrical energy in batteries for later use. These can either be portable or more permanently built on site.

Similar to how batteries work for torches, remotes or toys, the batteries are charged from an external source, and then discharged as we need to use them. A BESS is a battery with greater complexity and far greater functionality than a AA battery.

A Battery Energy Storage System, sometimes referred to as a smart battery, can be connected to the grid, as well as renewable energy sources, and can act as an effective buffer between them. 

See how it looks up close:

Why would I even consider a Battery?

There are several advantages of having a BESS as part of your energy solution, including:

  1. Improved Energy Efficiency
    A BESS allows you to store excess energy generated by renewable sources, such as solar panels, for use during periods of high demand or when the renewable source is not producing energy. This can help to reduce your reliance on grid-generated power and give more energy security.
  2. Reduce Energy Costs
    BESS systems can help businesses reduce their energy costs by storing energy during off-peak periods when electricity rates are lower and using the stored energy during peak periods when electricity rates are higher. This allows businesses to take advantage of time-of-use pricing and avoid peak demand charges. These peak demand charges are very costly, so levelling out the demand curve can reduce your energy costs.
  3. Grid Stability
    A battery system can provide grid-stabilising services to the power grid, such as frequency regulation and voltage control, which helps to ensure the stability and reliability of the power grid. A more stable grid means less interruptions to your power.
  4. Backup Power
    A BESS can provide backup power in the event of a power outage, ensuring that essential equipment and appliances continue to function. Enabling you to continue business or have a controlled shutdown in this unfortunate situation.
  5. Increased Sustainability
    By storing excess energy generated from renewable sources, a BESS can help to increase the use of clean, sustainable energy sources and reduce their carbon footprint. This can help businesses meet sustainability goals and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

How does a BESS typically work?

Battery Energy Storage Systems can be built on site, or provided in a portable solution. The portable version is referred to as a Containerised Battery Energy Storage Systems. (CBESS)

These are a type of BESS where the batteries, inverters, and other components are housed in a shipping container.

But they work in a similar way.

As an example of what makes up one of these batteries, we can look at the Powertech Power cube we have in stock right now. This 955kWh battery is made up of:

  • Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • BMS (Battery Management System)
  • 955kWh Total Storage Capacity 
  • Master BMS
  • Battery PCS 250kVA AC Coupled
  • Battery EMS (Energy Management System)
  • Climate Management
  • Fire Suppression
  • Ruggedised Container

In this video we break down what is inside:

This type of BESS has some key advantages over a built in system such as:

  • Portability
    These can be easily transported from one location to another, making it suitable for temporary or mobile energy storage applications.
  • Easy Installation
    They are pre-assembled in the factory, so they can be quickly deployed at the site without the need for extensive site preparation.
  • Modularity
    A Containerized Battery Storage System can be scaled up or down by adding or removing containers, depending on the energy storage requirements.
  • Standardisation
    They are built to a standard size and configuration, which makes them easy to transport and deploy, and simplifies maintenance and replacement.
  • Cost-effectiveness
    A CBESS can be manufactured in a controlled environment, which reduces costs compared to building a BESS from scratch on site.

What can it power?

Let’s get some context!

What do all these numbers mean?

For comparison here are a few batteries we use everyday.

  • AA Batteries - 5 watt-hour
  • Phone battery - 20 watt-hour
  • Laptop battery - 50 watt-hour
  • Standard 12 volt car battery - 500 watt-hour
  • Home solar storage battery - 10 kWh
  • Electric cars - start from 20 kWh up to 100 kWh

A 1MWh battery then is the equivalent of 200,000 AA Batteries, and it could power:

  • 50,000 new iPhones/Androids
  • 70 24-kilowatt Nissan Leafs (charge from 20% to 80%)
  • 55 average Australian four-person family homes.

Is battery storage worth it?

It is true that while a battery storage system is not for everyone, there are however a lot of applications where it is ideal. Not only can it provide cost savings, but it can also give confidence and improved stability.

Here are a few:

  • Solar farms & ground mount installations (100kWh – 1MWh)
    Time shift your solar power feed to the grid. This can balance out your energy feed in for a more stable grid, and increased returns.
  • Commercial solar systems without existing storage
    Solar can be part of the solution, but without battery storage you’re losing some of the benefits. Instead of losing the power you generate, store it for later use.
  • Remote operations (e.g. microgrids, mining & agriculture)
    Operations where there is no access to the grid. Control your own energy production for your needs.
  • Companies with high energy demand (e.g. cold storage facilities)
    Power is expensive, especially with high energy demand. Battery solutions can even out the demand curve, resulting in energy savings.
  • Off-grid communities (remote towns, tiny homes, and campsites)
    A Battery Energy storage system is perfect when connected to renewable energy sources. It can be used to share and control energy use within small communities.
  • Operations running on diesel generators
    Sometimes used as a backup power source or in remote locations. Switching from noisy and expensive diesel generators to a solar and battery solution can provide the supply power needs but with reduced costs and emissions.

Whether a BESS can help you will depend on your specific energy needs and requirements. If you have renewable energy sources and want to reduce your reliance on grid-generated power or ensure backup power during an outage, a BESS may be a good investment for you.

At Powertech Energy, we are your local energy partner. We guide you through the complex energy landscape, finding solutions that work well for your particular situation. Our brilliant engineers and technicians can design, deploy and service a solution ideal for your needs.

The best way to discover if this is right for you is to talk to our team and let them assess your individual needs.

If you're interested in a battery or looking for an experienced consultant to help you rethink your energy plan, reach out to our team today or fill out this form and our team will get in touch with you.

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