How analytics help avoid BESS commissioning headaches
Commissioning is a challenging time in the lifecycle of a battery energy storage system (BESS). There’s financial urgency to get up and running quickly — to start generating revenue and a return on investment. But the pressure to make sure it’s done right is equally intense. Errors or misconfigurations can cause downstream problems, in some cases with severe consequences.
By identifying potential issues early with predictive battery analytics, owners and operators can take full control of their assets, ensuring the BESS delivers the quality and performance that are expected — and realizing their business objectives.
Predictive analytics often employ the full suite of methodologies, including heuristics, statistics, physical models, mechanistic models, machine learning, and more. They will also draw on data from outside any single system, aggregating insights to identify trends and anomalies.
Where issues can arise
System components are an obvious source of commissioning troubles. Faulty battery cells, for example, can compromise rack performance or create a greater risk of a battery incident. Similar hazards stem from issues with battery management systems (BMSs) or inaccurate state-of-charge (SOC) estimates.
There’s also the physical environment itself. If spaces are not properly sealed or conditioned, excessive moisture or heat buildups can degrade and even destroy BESS equipment.
Of course, a failure doesn’t have to be spectacular or catastrophic to do a business harm. Every minute of downtime comes with repair costs and lost revenues. And sometimes commissioning errors (or ad hoc efforts to fix urgent issues) can invalidate the warranties on components, making repairs more expensive than they need to be and resulting in unwelcome bottom-line impacts.
One way for BESS owners to strike the right balance between speedy commissioning and diligent deployment is to take advantage of predictive battery analytics from the outset, exposing potential issues before they have the chance to do any real damage.
Diagnose problems before they strike
In each of the examples above — battery cells, BMS errors, imprecise SOC estimates, and physical hazards — predictive battery analytics applied during commissioning can bring early visibility to potentially significant problems.
Running predictive battery analytics at the start can flag subpar battery cells that should not be deployed, keeping them out of the mix in the first place. Combined with ongoing monitoring, advanced analytics can also detect BMS errors before they affect performance — everything from exceeding end-of-charge or end-of-discharge voltages to sensor defects.
The same goes for SOC estimation errors. Especially now that many BESSs use lithium-ion LFP batteries, accurate SOC estimates can be harder to establish — potentially resulting in imbalances. Analytics bring precision to SOC estimates, so the system overall is better calibrated.
While analytics can’t necessarily detect water leaks or out-of-threshold temperatures in the physical environment, they can give early warning of anomalous behavior in the BESS equipment that suggests those kinds of hazards may be present. Intervening sooner can make a huge difference.
Verify system performance
Even without technical problems, there’s no guarantee a BESS will perform to specifications. Analytical tests during commissioning can determine important parameters such as capacity, power at different SOC levels, and various battery characteristics, including energy, efficiency, and internal resistance. Analytics can also help measure the performance of BESS electronics and the system as a whole, including efficiency and any standby losses of power.
A proactive approach that pays off from day one
Capturing insights with predictive battery analytics helps speed up BESS commissioning while identifying performance and safety risks before expensive failures occur. In the end, this means more uptime, lower deployment and operating costs, stronger safety, and better results over the lifecycle of the system.
Analytics at the commissioning stage provide what is otherwise difficult to come by for BESS owners seeking fast time to revenue with minimal risk: the confidence and assurance that come from hard facts and meaningful insights.
ACCURE Battery Intelligence recently published an e-book on Four Ways to Accelerate BESS Commissioning with analytics, available for download here .
As a provider of the full array of cloud-based analytics for energy storage systems, ACCURE has real-world experience and an understanding of how the right data-driven tools can make BESS management easier and more streamlined.