Technology and Design Considerations to Reduce Footprint in Energy Storage Systems

Battery energy storage is a critical technology to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and build a low carbon future. Renewable energy generation is fundamentally different from traditional fossil fuel energy generation in that energy cannot be produced on demand. Coal can be burned whenever power is needed—wind and solar energy rely on the wind blowing and the sun shining. Solar energy presents a particular problem in that it cannot be produced during the peak demand time for energy: at night. 

This is where battery energy storage comes in. Battery energy storage systems are electromechanical devices that store energy in batteries for use at a prescribed rate and time. This decouples time of generation from time of use and allows energy to be delivered when consumers need it. Energy storage systems are critical to achieving clean energy goals by providing better utilization of renewable resources while improving grid reliability and price stability. 

cutaway battery storage

In addition to applications in the grid, energy storage is also used in commercial and industrial applications to enhance reliability of energy availability and reduce costs by using stored power during times when grid power is particularly expensive. Residential homes or small communities can also use energy storage to achieve better energy independence and environmental sustainability by connecting energy storage systems to distributed energy resources like rooftop solar.  

What trends drive footprint reduction in energy storage systems?

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that 90 percent of the world’s electricity may come from renewables by 2050. This necessitates a massive increase in renewable power generation. The physical footprint of renewable energy generation need will increase to achieve this, even with more space efficient renewable technologies being developed. We need to prioritize physical space being used to generate renewable electricity, not storing it. For this reason, energy storage installations must seek to reduce their footprint wherever possible. 

Footprint reduction is also important in energy storage applications like EV charging stations and commercial and residential buildings that have extremely limited physical space. As EVs become a more common sight on the world’s roadways, building the infrastructure to support them has become a major priority. With more cars taking advantage of charging stations, charging stations may not be able find enough physical space to meet demand without smaller battery energy storage systems. Similarly, commercial and residential applications may not be able to change the layouts of buildings to accommodate these new systems and will therefore need to find ways to fit them into existing architecture. 

Design and technology considerations for footprint reduction

Even with advances in technology that have reduced the size in batteries themselves, battery energy storage installations need the right infrastructure to support using many batteries in close proximity. The best way to reduce footprint in energy storage is to reduce as much as possible the space being used for anything other than batteries. 

cutaway energy storage

Liquid cooling has been deployed in data centers around the world to manage increasing heat density from next-generation chips. Liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling because liquid has a higher heat transfer capacity and can get closer to the source of heat than air. Similarly, liquid cooling can be used in energy storage applications to manage the heat loads generated from rising power density. Liquid cooling works in energy storage applications by using a chiller to pump cooled fluid through the system in a closed loop, with precision control adjusting fluid temperature and flow rates to maximize efficiency. By raising the cooling capacity of energy storage systems with liquid cooling, battery module manufacturers can fit more batteries closer together and increase the power capacity of their installations without increasing footprint. 

Even with batteries appropriately cooled though, they still need to be connected to one another, and to the grid or other application they are powering. Traditional cable solutions, while appropriate in some applications, can be difficult to use when footprint reduction is a primary concern because they often do not have a safe bending radius high enough to accommodate tight turns in small spaces. In these situations, flexible conductors, such as flexible busbars or braids, can offer better design flexibility due to the reduced cross-section and minimal bend radius requirements. These busbars can be prefabricated to save time and labor on job sites

What’s next? 

Demand for energy storage will continue to grow as government investments in infrastructure increase around the world, microgrids become more common and electric vehicles see widespread adoption. Reducing footprint for energy storage systems will be a challenge for battery module manufacturers, power companies, commercial buildings and more. Thinking about these challenges and developing technology to reduce footprint now will help energy storage companies get out ahead of the competition. Reexamining power connections and cooling approach is a great place to start. 


John Turner is the Vertical Growth Leader for Renewable Power Generation and Energy Storage at nVent. He is responsible for driving technology development, mindshare and growth in these key areas. He brings a deep understanding of the challenges facing the energy industry and a passion for finding innovative solutions that benefit both customers and the environment. He is committed to advancing the adoption of sustainable energy practices and is a vocal advocate for the role that Renewable Power Generation and Energy Storage can play in shaping a more sustainable future.

Dave Dong is a seasoned professional in the electrical solutions industry. He currently serves as the Director of Vertical Growth for North America at nVent. With a decade of experience at nVent, Dave has been instrumental in steering the company’s Power and Grounding Solutions division toward innovative heights. Holding an Electrical Engineering degree, Dave’s expertise lies in the dynamic fields of Energy Storage and e-mobility. His forward-thinking approach has consistently driven advancements in these areas, contributing to nVent’s reputation as a leader in electrical solutions. Dave’s commitment to excellence and his strategic vision for integrating sustainable energy practices have positioned him as a key player in the industry. His work reflects a deep understanding of electrical engineering principles and a passion for leveraging technology to meet the evolving demands of energy storage and electric mobility

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Author: John Turner and Dave Dong