15 Nov 2023
By Lennart Hinrichs
As necessary as battery storage is, deploying it can be a daunting process. Operators must choose from a myriad of options, and may be unsure which system is the right fit for their needs. Onboarding a system brings its own risks, with the potential to miss hardware issues that could become a problem later. During regular operations, safety and reliability concerns remain at the forefront; operators must be ready for energy storage to respond to unusual power situations, as well as prepare for issues that can develop within their batteries after a long period of operation. In short, energy storage is a necessary and excellent way to conserve energy, but involves complex systems that require close monitoring.
The good news is that a single product, compatible with storage from any manufacturer, can help remove much of the complication of deploying energy storage. Battery analytics software is the perfect companion for energy storage systems. Analytics can take much of the guesswork out of storage operations, from before deployment to long after commissioning. Advanced analytics can help storage operators determine the best system for them, with software that combines simulations with observational data to virtually recreate the scenarios planned for their battery storage. Analytics is also key when the operators are onboarding storage, as it can identify weak spots in the hardware and help solve them before normal operations begin. The software also enables engineers and asset managers to monitor and analyze the battery system during regular operation, ensuring the systems are being used in ways that best maximize revenue while also remaining within their warranty specifications, and signaling out any safety risks before they spiral into a major concern.
Through several different areas, battery analytics software ensures that storage operators are getting the most from their investment and that their batteries are operating at their most efficient.
Even before operators acquire storage systems, battery software helps them determine which system is best for their applications. More advanced suites are backed up by an extensive database of cells from all major manufacturers, giving operators the means to run several different types of batteries in virtual scenarios that mirror their planned use cases.
Battery analytics software can also guide operators in planning the most effective operating modes and strategies, maximizing the life of a battery based on how asset owners will use it. Engineers can simulate battery degradation in different scenarios to account for operations like demand response and peak shaving, so they can select the system that is the best fit for these applications.
A comprehensive battery software can work with batteries across an infinite number of vendors – meaning asset owners don’t have to worry about whether their system is compatible with analytics software. With software backed by extensive research, the end user is offered a deep database of exhaustive information on various cells through a combination of both on-site testing and virtual modeling.
Ensuring batteries are safe is a major concern for operators, especially following high-profile incidents of lithium-ion batteries burning for extended periods. While battery storage manufacturers typically have their products undergo rigorous safety testing to meet several fire certifications, analytics software provides operators with another layer of protection and peace of mind.
Battery analytics autonomously detects issues early that could lead to malfunctions that result in fires. The software also makes it easy for operators to monitor and evaluate detected incidents by alerting the user of anomalies via a dashboard and alerts. The alerts offer granular details so engineers know exactly what they should check, such as if the system is operating beyond safe temperatures. Such software can also send alerts via email so that engineers don’t need to monitor the dashboard to know when to address an issue.
Another benefit of utilizing battery software is that it enables operators to anticipate scenarios that might stress batteries, and determine when degradation leads to a point where cells are no longer safe to operate.
An energy storage system will be of little value if it spends much of its time offline due to operational issues, or if it’s not operating at peak efficiency. Battery analytics software ensures operators can observe health data for batteries in real-time, receive immediate notifications, and address when certain elements of the system are not performing as expected.
Battery software can monitor the reliability of systems from the start, and many offer elements that focus only on the commissioning process to verify that battery storage systems are ready to be fully operational. Commissioning has traditionally been done on-site using physical tools, a lengthy process that may be too prolonged for the energy demands of an operator’s customers. Digital commissioning software improves the onsite process by providing detailed information with remote tools, presenting a more comprehensive insight into the battery. By processing vast amounts of data, the software can highlight anomalies and identify deficiencies that traditional commissioning may miss, ensuring greater reliability for the system once it’s online.
Throughout regular operation, analytics software constantly monitors the performance of battery storage. Engineers are immediately notified of underperforming components down to a granular level, catching issues that may go unnoticed without real-time monitoring by analytics software. The battery software platform will also inform operators if their systems are in danger of exceeding the threshold of their warranties, adapting battery operation on the fly to maximize how long batteries can be safely operated.
Energy storage, particularly at a large, utility-scale site, is often a hefty up-front capital expense, so operators will want to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investment. The various applications for battery analytics software listed above all work together to ensure storage operators are seeing a maximal return on their investment. With software that works in real-time to monitor the reliability of storage systems, operators’ battery storage will operate far more efficiently than it would without analytics software. Operators will also be able to extend the life of their systems, with the software keeping track of usage in real time so engineers can assess how different operating strategies impact battery degradation.
Battery analytics software also provides full support for scenarios like demand response and peak shaving. If operators are installing storage primarily to save money on electricity by limiting peak demand usage, analytics software will make sure the applications of the batteries are matching the operating strategies.
While energy storage is a necessary part of the clean energy transition, operators still want to be sure they get as much a return on their investment as possible. Comprehensive battery analytics and modeling software ensures that operators get their money’s worth.
Lennart Hinrichs is VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at TWAICE, a battery software platform company.
TWAICE | www.twaice.com