5 Best Practices for Battery Energy Storage Systems

Battery storage closets located at an industrial facility

Battery storage closets located at an industrial facility

Energy is the lifeline for everything online, and in 2022, where even note-taking and diary management are digitized, it is more important than ever.

But despite the neatly organized appearance of the institutions and online platforms we use daily, the reality of the underlying infrastructure is a chaotic mess of logistics and environmental considerations.

The stability within this chaos is the humble battery, storing energy for later use. With the advent of renewable energy sources, effectively managing energy storage is more crucial than ever.

To meet the global Net Zero energy goal, the world needs 35 times its current battery storage capacity by 2030. The desired outcome is only possible with the correct management of these powerful storage systems

So what are these energy storage systems? And what are the best ways to utilize, protect, and manage them so that they last for years to come?

What are Battery Energy Storage Systems?

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are any kind of organized battery storage.

This includes anything from a couple of batteries that improve your home’s solar power to the vast warehouses of battery banks that handle electricity generated by wind farms.

BESS are an essential resource for managing peak use times and maximizing the value of renewable energy generation in domestic and institutional environments. This can be accomplished by several types of batteries, including the ‘dumb’ lead-acid, the more intelligent and popular lithium-ion, other lithium-based variants, and newer technologies like sodium-sulfur and hydrogen.

They have become an integral part of microgrid systems, utility grids, and pretty much any facility that runs on electricity.

How to choose the right BESS?

What are your needs? The size and scale of each system are different, and the general functions range from broadly applicable to particular uses.

It’s essential to consider each aspect carefully. While many BESS’ come with basic data reporting capabilities, some may not connect between units, and rarely do they collect and correlate information from multiple locations. Some systems focus on providing a platform for optimizing costs, while others aim to maximize peak power output for excessively demanding networks.

The final piece to this decision is knowing more about the hardware: how reliable are the components? How easy are they to replace, and what kind of expertise does your onsite staff have? 

All these questions boil down to finding out more about the long-term upkeep for these systems and how much you’re willing to spend upfront versus the increase in maintenance costs for more general options.

What are the Benefits of Battery Energy Storage Systems?

Energy storage systems have many benefits, and in the face of growing demand,  technological development is expanding this list at an incredible rate.

Benefits include:

  • Improved long-term reliability
  • More flexible temporal controls
  • Cost optimization
  • Higher energy efficiency
  • Maximized energy density
  • Increased power output

Without reliable storage, it’s difficult to manage large-scale power use and compensate for the technical and fiscal costs of the variable demand between day and night.

Utilities and other companies can use a huge BESS to manage these challenges, but localized BESS implementation lets customers have finer control over their energy use. 

5 Best Practices for Optimizing Your BESS

There are five key elements in an effective and successful BESS.

1. Find The Best Battery For Your Facility

Chart comparing the strengths and weaknesses of lithium ion and lead acid batteries

Let’s start by identifying your energy needs to select the most appropriate battery type.

There are several to choose from and the most common types of batteries in use today are:

Lead-Acid

PBA technology has been around for a long time. It’s the cheapest and most widespread in older machines and facilities.

They are recyclable and temperature resistant but also heavy, slow to charge and degrade quickly. The amount of collectible data is minimal, even with additional sensors in place.

Lithium-Ion

Most modern large-scale BESS use Li-ion batteries.

By being lighter, more compact, higher capacity, and having greater energy density,  they have replaced most previous smart batteries as the go-to for almost all electronic devices. Li-ion also charge faster and degrade slower than most alternatives.

They have several weaknesses, mainly their cost and vulnerability to temperature changes with consequent inflammability. It is also easy to limit their lifetime by overcharging and over-discharging

On the plus side, Li-ion batteries are some of the easiest to integrate into remote monitoring technology that prevents or resolves these challenges.

Sodium-Sulfur

Na-S batteries are a newer type with remarkable properties exclusively at an extremely high temperature (above 300 °C). 

A proper facility that is well away from population centers – for example, a solar farm using molten salt –  is excellent for storing vast quantities of energy. 

Their drawbacks include dangerous operating parameters and volatile components, making proper oversight crucial.

Vanadium Redox

These belong to a type known as ‘flow batteries.’ They use liquids instead of solids to hold their electric charge. There are also zinc-bromine, zinc-iron, and iron-chromium types. 

Individually, these batteries are relatively ineffective and are not at all portable. The advantage of this type lies in having the highest lifespan of up to 30 years and unparalleled scalability. 

2. Always Keep An Eye on Your Assets

The technology behind energy storage has always been impressive, with banks of batteries being a sight to behold! Unfortunately they are cumbersome and inaccessible before, during, and after deployment. While often located near energy-producing assets, accessing a BESS is inconvenient enough without considering the need to check on individual batteries manually.

However, this level of oversight is essential to stay on top of each battery’s status and performance. This is key to maintaining efficiency and stability across the whole energy asset network.

The solution to this major inconvenience is remote monitoring.

Linking a BESS to a remote monitoring software solution connects to everything in the battery system. It creates visibility over every asset, from the batteries to the doors and lights. 

The information gained from these solutions enables long-term tracking and comparisons that lead to better optimization and security.

3. Set Performance Thresholds

Once your remote monitoring solution is up and running, it’s time to set thresholds. This is the best way to maximize the potential of your BESS.

With batteries, the main targets to track are metrics like temperature, voltage, and state of charge. Not only will these tell you if your batteries are functioning correctly, but they also keep you within the limits of your warranty. Li-ion batteries, in particular, are sensitive, and their warranties typically reflect that.

Some solutions can track and set limits for different performance metrics depending on the software you choose. With Galooli’s innovative solution, you can track operating temperature, remaining battery life, charge levels and set specific alert thresholds to ensure they align with your goals.

4. Keep Your Voltage In Check

Once you have comprehensive oversight of your batteries and understand your power load balance, it’s important to check your voltage. Batteries come in different sizes, and depending on your needs, you may end up using the wrong type. Low voltage batteries have a capacity under 100V, and everything above 400V qualifies as high voltage.

Low voltage batteries are easier to link in larger groups to imitate high-capacity batteries. This means that, up to a certain capacity requirement, it makes sense to use a cluster of cheaper, smaller batteries. In addition, using a battery with voltage above what’s required can strain systems that aren’t designed to handle it.

High voltage batteries offer greater individual capacity but are more limited in the number of linkages they can support. On the other hand, as more centralized energy units, they can manipulate their charges more freely, allowing optimal response time for the sudden surge in demand on startup. 

If your power requirements match the higher capacity of these batteries and are seeing daily use, you probably want to invest in high voltage battery systems.

5. Safeguard Your Batteries

Depending on your location, there are two significant risks to your batteries. The first is theft, as batteries are relatively expensive, and large groups of them at remote sites are prime targets. It’s hard enough to keep your sites and their energy assets running consistently and efficiently without worrying about theft and replacement costs.

If the worst does happen, Galooli’s anti-theft solution has an over 100% recovery rate. We’re staying ahead of the game with our battery tracking solution, which is so effective it can uncover batteries from unrelated sites!

The second threat to your batteries comes from within; batteries contain electricity, and using electricity generates heat. 

Chemical reactions are generally predictable, but environmental conditions and time are destructive elements. Individual batteries can eventually malfunction or degrade, leading them to heat themselves and the room containing the rest of the BESS.

Hot batteries tend to get hotter, and a cluster overheating leads to a thermal runaway effect. Proper insulation and safety architecture are necessary when designing and implementing a BESS.

BESS tends to have HVAC components to regulate the temperature, but depending on your location, those systems can be under heavy strain for long periods. To avoid significant breakdowns, you need eyes on all of the components in your system, along with fully automatic alerts that let you deal with a problem before it blows up.

How Galooli Provides a Solution for Battery Energy Storage

When developing your energy infrastructure, information is your most essential tool.

With Galooli you have access to a comprehensive and easy-to-use platform that removes the guesswork about your assets’ status. Galooli keeps your batteries running efficiently, and our insights help maximize battery lifespans, reliability, and performance.

To get started with accessing your energy site remotely, or to learn more about Galooli’s capabilities, request a free demo here.

Connect With Us

Are you ready to transform your data into
operational cost savings & efficiency?

let’s get started

What is a Network Generation

Telecommunications tower with equipment supporting multiple network generations
Telecommunications tower with equipment supporting multiple network generations

When you look at your phone next to the bar indicating signal strength, there is usually a handful of numbers and letters like 4G or LTE. If you have paid close attention, you might notice that you have better connectivity with LTE than you get with 3G.

Behind these symbols and codes is a complex web of technological history still shaping global telecommunications today. If you want to understand more about telecom systems, it’s essential to learn about network generations.

What is a network generation?

A network generation is a type of cellular network generally referred to by its number, starting with 1G and going all the way through 2G, 3G, and 4G to the most recent developed generation: 5G. They are referred to as generations because that is how they were institutionally defined.

As the developers responsible for cellular network technology, telecom giants primarily set specific standards for network capabilities. They used their knowledge of contemporary advancements not only to expand the potential range and power of their existing networks but also to define the scope of what the next generation of systems would be able to achieve.

Each network generation refers to the specifications and types of the technology standard, frequency, bandwidth, access system, and core network.

5 Facts About 5G Networks

Quick review: what are the main components of a network generation?

If you are well-versed in telecommunications technology, you can skip ahead, but if you want to learn more about network infrastructure, here is a brief look at what we are talking about when we use the term ‘network generations’:

Frequency

Frequency is simply the number of oscillations or vibrations in a second, measured in Hertz (Hz). It measures electrical signals as a baseline, then scanning and identifying frequencies can be used to transmit data by tracking either analog or digital signals.

Bandwidth

In the technical sense, bandwidth is a number that describes electrical signal transmission capacity. Digital bandwidth is measured in pulses and expressed in bits per second, nowadays offered by service providers as Mbps.

Transmitting alternating frequencies used in all wired analog, many wired digital, and most wireless communications uses ‘bandwidth’ to describe the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies, measured in Hz.

Multiple Access System

These systems are the framework for how networks handle specific bandwidths and multiplex, modulate, or manage them to organize user channels and facilitate communication. Each access system uses a different technique to modify the bandwidth and exploit the fundamental resources of the system.

  • Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA)
  • Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
  • Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
  • Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM)
  • Beam Division Multiple Access (BDMA)

Each of these techniques reflects the targetable aspect of the network based on the technological capabilities at the time. Dividing various parts of the bandwidth and modifying the underlying technology improved each successive generation’s coverage, capacity, and efficiency.

Standardized Technology

As telecommunications has developed from the basic telegraph to globalized networks, many communication standards have been created, adapted, improved, or abandoned. Generally, several standards have been developed and adopted at roughly the same capacity in different countries around the world.

Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS), Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT), and the Total Access Communication System (TACS) were analog signal systems developed around 1980 in the US, Scandinavia, and Europe, respectively. As the first telecom services, they are collectively considered 1G.

2G came about in the 90s with the widespread adoption of transmission via wired digital connections as part of the Global System for Mobile communication or GSM.

The introduction of CDMA technology in the late 90s enabled greater signal density at the cost of multiple functions. This led to Wideband CDMA (WCDMA), which served as the foundation for 3G but has been chiefly phased out in favor of GSM.

From the early 2000s, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) was pursued mainly by Sprint as a way to get ahead of the competition and achieve 4G levels of coverage and speed using the internet to cover gaps instead of new wired lines. In 2015, Sprint abandoned WiMAX in favor of the more compatible and later widely-adopted Long-Term Evolution (LTE) transmissions.

A notable upgrade from 3G onwards was the introduction of MIMO or Multiple Input Multiple Output. As the name implies, it involves processing and combining copies of a signal through multiple antennae to send and receive more robust transmissions.

The redundancy is beneficial for vital emergency communication and network stability even under load. As the world transitions toward 5G, this technology is increasingly crucial to supporting the growing capabilities of the latest network generations.

Now that we understand more about network generations let’s look at a more technical timeline of 1G to 5G standard development.

Network generation technologies simplified

Progression timeline of network generations and their advents
Source: Twitter

Getting lost in the endless reams of network technology acronyms involved in something as simple as making a phone call is very easy. We’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible while looking at how these standards have developed and what changed with their widespread adoption.

In the beginning…

The first generation of wireless technology – AMPS, NMT, and TACS – used analog signals in the frequency range of 800 to 900 MHz to carry data. These mobile networks used FDMA to increase their capacity, but the amount of data that could be transmitted was still minimal. The voice quality and reliability of calls on 1G devices were not very good and also suffered from poor battery life.

The second mobile generation transitioned to wireless digital support with the help of the innovation of TDMA and CDMA. At the same time, the adoption of GSM running on 900 MHz or 1800 MHz bandwidth opened up more operable space.

Applying these techniques to both the new GSM and the older AMPS networks increased the amount and quality of data transmitted, allowing for the development of SMS and MMS services. GSM also made possible internal roaming, conference calls, call holding, and service-based billing.

The rise of the WWW

With the growing popularity of the internet and the demonstrably expanded opportunities of 2G, the next step in telecommunications was web integration. Pressure to meet the International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000) standard of 200 Kbps transmission speed led to several advancements. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful in producing a new standard, but they were able to upgrade older networks with improved audio and data capacity.

In addition to meeting the standardized requirements to be called 3G, updated 2G network architecture enabled support for many of the apps and features we enjoy on our phones today. Web browsing and email, as well as downloading, streaming, and sharing, were all established at this time.

This was also the point at which the types of devices branched out from phones to include advanced PDAs and more.

Two important technologies jumped from 3G to 4G: MIMO and OFDM. These two methods of frequency modification created a dramatic increase in the density and strength of signals possible within existing bandwidths. This paved the way for advances like HDTV, video conferencing, and cloud computing. Combined with increased security and overall optimization that reduced the cost of providing these services, 4G once again redefined cell service.

But there's no such thing as too fast

As the next level of advancement, 5G offers even faster data service and lower latency facilitated by increased connection density. 5G is still in the process of widespread deployment, but so far, it requires significantly higher site density and inter-device communication to meet its own network standards.

The proliferation of cell sites presents new challenges in keeping track of maintenance and managing energy demand. Still, 5G offers a wide array of efficiency and performance improvements that makes its adoption critical for growing data usage globally and increased reliance and mobile connectivity.

What's next?

As 5G sites are rolling out, service providers are already looking for better and cheaper ways to provide service. With the many experimental technologies being created and designed, there are still some ways to improve existing networks.

The next step in network generations is already in development. 6G is looking to use higher frequencies to deliver even faster and higher quality data transmission with 1000 times less latency. All of this is still speculative, but confidence in the potential for 6G is very high.

The digitalization and intelligent integration of network infrastructure allows for optimization toward more efficient and reliable operations. Companies like Galooli provide remote monitoring solutions that add extra value and oversight to all types of telecom sites.

What is a Microgrid?

Small-scale microgrid including a generator and solar panel located at a coastal telecommunications base station
Small-scale microgrid including a generator and solar panel located at a coastal telecommunications base station

A microgrid is almost exactly what it sounds like; a smaller, scaled-down version of a typical central electric grid. Large national or municipal grids are used because centralizing distribution of most services is the most efficient possible form, so why does anyone bother with microgrids?

As the last couple of decades has shown, climate change is a growing threat to all forms of infrastructure. This is especially relevant to energy grids, as higher temperatures and increasingly frequent storms put more and more strain on these networks.

The United States saw 20 natural disasters that caused over one billion dollars in damages in 2021 alone. With the scaling challenges of climate change looming, taking control of your grid has become more important than ever.

First, let’s discuss what exactly is a microgrid more in-depth, and how they work.

What is a Microgrid?

Source: MicrogridKnowledge

Microgrids are a form of an energy system where a group of buildings or a neighborhood develops and implements its own self-contained network of power. A microgrid draws power from utilities just like the central grid but has supplementary energy production and storage that augments its daily functions. The specific configuration and resources of any microgrid are determined by the needs of the facilities relying on it.

This self-contained network of energy assets can operate invisibly alongside the main grid and then seamlessly transition into a fully independent energy system. To accomplish this, microgrids incorporate an active, intelligent control module that helps compensate for vulnerabilities and improves overall performance. 

Moreover, to effectively manage and keep these energy assets working at peak capacity, remote monitoring solutions can provide accessible visibility and insight into their performance. By augmenting the control functions of a microgrid with enhanced oversight operators can minimize risks and effectively maintain these independent energy networks.

Why go through the hassle of setting up a microgrid?

The main factors to consider when thinking about developing your own microgrid are site security and the reliability of the centralized grid network. Especially in regions where grid access is inconsistent, or fuel theft and vandalism are rampant, microgrids can provide the energy stability needed while keeping workers and contractors safe.

Safety features are the weakness of any centralized system because it takes the responsibility out of the hands of the people relying on that system and creates barriers to dealing with vulnerabilities. Microgrids resolve these accessibility issues and can also integrate extra security features because of the greater degree of focus.

Microgrids can also:

  • Collect data – A microgrid tracks energy use patterns to increase overall system efficiency and reduce energy costs by actively managing unused equipment, rooms, or even buildings.
  • Improve sustainability – With the increased connectivity comes the ability to enhance the integration of renewable energy with the microgrid to maximize a network’s sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint.
  • Optimize maintenance – With advanced prediction and malfunction reporting capabilities that reduce the need for in-person oversight, microgrids can decrease response times and minimize the impact of any emergency.
  • Increase efficiency – Generating the electricity for a microgrid from assets that are closer to customers means that less of power is lost in transit. In addition, the enhanced control over energy assets lets microgrids plan their load balance more effectively.

The increased accessibility also enables extra responsiveness and flexibility with demands that otherwise overwhelm centralized electric utilities. In municipalities with inadequate facilities, spikes in demand can regularly knock out the power supply.

Even areas with fully functioning grids do not bother to have the capacity for exceptional spikes, leaving their customers without power. A microgrid is able to address the local energy situation and compensate for gaps without wasting resources and building extra energy capacity.

Most importantly, microgrids provide facilities and organizations autonomy from traditional energy purchasing, and even in some cases sell it if enough excess energy is generated. If there is a reasonable concern about any of these factors, a microgrid could be the solution.

Who is using microgrids?

Examples of different ways microgrids can be organized and the power sources they use
Source: NordicEnergy

Microgrids are historically popular grid formations in a variety of different settings and scales.

The primary limiting factors to more widespread microgrid use are:

a). A large enough energy requirement to justify the investment

b). An incentive to take control of their energy supply

This has limited the application of microgrids for the most part to large communities with security concerns like military bases and institution complexes, but they have seen use in the following:

Hospitals

Medical care is always in high demand, with many critical services that people literally depend on to live. Furthermore, modern developments in medicine include a wide array of electronic equipment, making medical facilities require more power than the average building. This makes microgrids extremely useful as an extra source of electricity as well as insurance against local power failures causing irreparable harm.

Smart communities and buildings

In the face of increasingly frequent extreme weather and the effects of climate change, many communities in North America are choosing to invest in securing their energy supply. These microgrids are concentrated on supplying power to essential services such as firefighters and police departments. Supported facilities also serve as shelters during particularly dangerous weather events.

Government and corporate campuses

Some governments pushing for microgrids lead the way by installing backup systems in their capitals. Albany, New York is supporting its governing complex almost entirely through its own microgrid. This way, the government can preserve its bureaucratic functions in the face of all kinds of challenges. This also provides increased durability in the case of natural disasters or political unrest that damages critical infrastructure like the grid.

Utilities

While seemingly in direct competition, utilities are discovering ways that they can use microgrids to satisfy their customers while retaining control. By investing in microgrid technology, utility companies are able to offer customizable solutions that lower the cost of producing and using energy.

Advances in monitoring and management technology have made the centralized aspect of microgrids more accessible than ever. It has become possible to create a microgrid network out of almost any collection of buildings and energy assets.

The full range of applications for microgrid technology has only just begun.

What is an RTU?

RTU stands for Remote Terminal Unit or Remote Telemetry Unit and refers to a specific type of monitoring and management solution

Continue reading

What is ICT?

ICT stands for Information Communication Technology and refers to IT in the broader context of communications systems and management

Continue reading

What is PUE?

Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is the overall efficiency of a facility’s electricity consumption, particularly for data centers

Continue reading