Electrical Power & Protection

A new era of power: large-scale battery energy storage systems

October 2023 Electrical Power & Protection

As the sun sets on coal power, we are seeing the rise of large-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS), together with a surge in renewable energy capacity. Bridging a century-long technological divide, industry pioneers are merging innovative battery storage technology with established grid systems. Optimising grid balance and ensuring smooth operation of storage devices is no small task. So what is their secret to ensuring a successful energy transition? The answer is simple: data.

Across industry, monitoring and control systems such as battery management systems (BMS) and energy management systems (EMS) are becoming as crucial to energy storage as the batteries themselves. Understanding the complex language of system data is the first step in making these systems effective. Specialist knowledge is key to collecting and interpreting the data that powers operational technology (OT).

Although data is a powerful tool, it must be leveraged effectively for reliable operation and growth. Here are four distinct data challenges that BESS must grapple with:

The insufficient data dilemma

BESS is more than just battery storage. Fire suppression systems, air conditioning, and power conservation systems can also fall under this segment. However these different types of equipment often use differing data communication protocols and interfaces. As a result, getting comprehensive status information from these critical devices can be challenging.

The unusable data puzzle

A 6/12 metre battery cabinet generates a large amount of data each minute, including temperature readings, voltage levels and current measurements. Avoiding bandwidth and processing inefficiencies, while sorting useful data from noise, can be a monumental task.

The incomplete data conundrum

BESS is important for managing grid stability, and there is great demand for real-time regulation and site information. For example, efficient use of stored wind and solar energy requires long-term monitoring and analysis of BESS system data, while grid stability requires real-time automatic frequency control. Both applications require comprehensive, high-speed data transmission, which can be facilitated by long-distance communication and rapid fallback networks.

The insecure data quandary

BESS connects power generation, transmission and distribution. This interconnectivity can result in a larger attack surface for cyberattacks. To minimise vulnerabilities and protect the power grid, robust security protocols are a must for system suppliers.

Overcoming these four data challenges is crucial for the reliable operation and growth of BESS. These systems must adapt to the changing energy market to enhance the efficiency, reliability and security of the energy supply.


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