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
Source: IntegraSources.com

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.

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