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Battery Energy Storage Systems provide resilient power from commercial Grids to military installations and bases

One of the obstacles to total green energy reliance is that many sources of carbon-neutral energy, such as solar and wind power, are unpredictable and intermittent. A possible solution is to build energy storage facilities that can charge up while excess energy is being generated, then discharge when demand overtakes supply. Energy storage systems provide a wide array of technological approaches to managing  the  power supply in order to create a more resilient energy infrastructure and bring cost savings to utilities and consumers. Some of the  alternative electrical generation sources, are  solar panels, fuel cells, flywheels, wind turbines, batteries, and capacitors be installed and intelligently monitored and controlled to ensure power delivery at all times to the critical loads..


Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESSs) are a sub-set of Energy Storage Systems (ESSs). Energy Storage System is a general term for the ability of a system to store energy using thermal, electro-mechanical or electro-chemical solutions. A BESS typically utilizes an electro-chemical solution. Battery energy storage systems have a wide range of applications. Commercial applications include peak shaving, load shifting, emergency backup, and various grid services. Residential applications include self-consumption, off-grid homes, and emergency backup.


Battery energy storage systems are rechargeable battery systems that store energy from solar arrays or the electric grid and provide that energy to a home or business. Because they contain advanced technology that regular batteries do not, they can easily perform certain tasks that used to be difficult or impossible, such as peak shaving and load shifting.


Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is a technology developed for storing electric charge by using specially developed batteries. The underlying idea being that such stored energy can be utilized at a later time. Battery-based grid-storage facilities using a range of battery types have already been built for this reason, but there is still a need to develop an economical, safe, and long-term solution. Enormous amount of research has led to battery advances that has shaped the concept of Battery Energy Storage System into a commercial reality.


BESS has advantage over other Storage technologies as it has small footprint and no restrictions on on geographical locations that it could be located in. Other Storage technologies like Pumped hydro storage (PHS) and Compressed air energy storage (CAES) are only suitable for limited number of locations, considering water and siting-related restrictions and transmission constraints. Accordingly BESS utilizing Lithium Ion technology offer high energy and power densities that are suitable for utilizing at distribution transformer level. The available space at the distribution transformer setup can be used to locate the BESS.


Modern battery energy storage systems usually include a built-in inverter and computerized control systems. This means they’re all-in-one, turnkey systems that are simple to install, largely maintenance-free, and don’t require any effort or expertise from the owner. They’re also weatherproof and safe for people and pets.



Commercial Battery Energy Storage Applications

PEAK SHAVING — In a commercial setting, the most important application of energy storage is peak shaving. For businesses on demand charge utility tariffs, between 30% and 70% of the utility bill may be made up of demand charges. Solar arrays alone aren’t always a sufficient solution for these businesses. Battery energy storage systems, however, can guarantee that no power above a predetermined threshold will be drawn from the grid during peak times. We’ll talk more about how solar + storage can eliminate demand charges and drop a commercial utility bill to near zero in an upcoming article.

LOAD SHIFTING — Battery energy storage systems allow businesses to shift energy usage by charging batteries with solar energy or when electricity is cheapest and discharging batteries when it’s more expensive. This is particularly useful for businesses on rural electric cooperatives (RECs) or other utilities that don’t offer net metering on an annualized basis.

EMERGENCY BACKUP — Like the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) under your desk or in your server room, battery energy storage systems can keep operations running during power outages.

MICROGRIDS — Energy storage opens up the possibility of building microgrids in conjunction with renewable energy. The scalability and turnkey simplicity of battery energy storage make these systems economically viable. Islandable microgrids can be used in certain large commercial facilities – or even entire communities. The American Samoa island Ta’u, who switched from diesel generation to solar + storage, is a good example of this application.

RENEWABLE INTEGRATION — Energy storage can smooth the output of renewable power generation sources. Solar produces cyclically – day vs. night, summer vs. winter. Energy storage allows solar energy production to mimic the consistency of fossil fuel energy sources.

GRID SERVICES — For utility-scale customers, battery energy storage can provide a host of valuable applications, including reserve capacity, frequency regulation, and voltage control to the grid.

RENEWABLE INTEGRATION — Energy storage can smooth the output of renewable power generation sources. Solar produces cyclically – day vs. night, summer vs. winter. Energy storage allows solar energy production to mimic the consistency of fossil fuel energy sources.

GRID SERVICES — For utility-scale customers, battery energy storage can provide a host of valuable applications, including reserve capacity, frequency regulation, and voltage control to the grid.


Characteristics of a Battery Energy Storage System

Round-trip Efficiency — Indicates the amount of usable energy that can be discharged from a storage system relative to the amount of energy that was put in. This accounts for the energy lost during each charge and discharge cycle. Typical values range from 60% to 95%.

Response Time — Amount of time required for a storage system to go from standby mode to full output. This performance criterion is one important indicator of the flexibility of storage as a grid resource relative to alternatives. Most storage systems have a rapid response time, typically less than a minute. Pumped hydroelectric storage and compressed air energy storage tend to be relatively slow as compared with batteries.

Ramp Rate — Ramp rate indicates the rate at which storage power can be varied. A ramp rate for batteries can be faster than 100% variation in one to a few seconds. The ramp rate for pumped hydroelectric storage and for compressed air energy storage is similar to the ramp rate of conventional generation facilities.

Energy Retention or Standby Losses — Energy retention time is the amount of time that a storage system retains its charge. The concept of energy retention is important because of the tendency for some types of storage to self-discharge or to dissipate energy while the storage is not in use.

Energy Density — The amount of energy that can be stored for a given amount of area, volume, or mass. This criterion is important in applications where area is a limiting factor, for example, in an urban substation where space could be a limiting constraint to site energy storage.

Power Density — Power density indicates the amount of power that can be delivered for a given amount of area, volume, or mass. In addition, like energy density, power density varies significantly among storage types. Again, power density is important if area and/or space are limited or if weight is an issue.

Safety — Safety is related to both electricity and to the specific materials and processes involved in storage systems. The chemicals and reactions used in batteries can pose safety or fire concerns.

Life span — measured in cycles.

Depth of Discharge (DoD) — Refers to the amount of the battery’s capacity that has been utilized. It is expressed as a percentage of the battery’s full energy capacity. The deeper a battery’s discharge, the shorter the expected life time. Deep cycle is often defined as 80% or more DoD.

Ambient temperature — Has an important effect on battery performance. High ambient temperatures cause internal reactions to occur, and many batteries lose capacity more rapidly in hotter climates.



Military Applications

The U.S. military, like corporate America and a swath of states, is increasingly turning to grid edge technology to help reduce energy costs and maintain resilience. Like most energy consumers, bases are looking to cut peak demand and integrate additional renewables into their mix. The U.S. military is still dependent on petroleum, but is expected to accelerate its investments in clean energy and grid security over the next decade. Navigant expects the military’s annual spending on microgrids to rise from $453 million in 2017 to $1.4 billion in 2026.


Military bases around the country are developing plans and projects to ensure critical missions are powered in the face of nearly any disruption. Those plans increasingly include grid-scale battery storage, a resource well suited to mission assurance and the critical operations across the DoD footprint. Battery storage can provide immediate, flexible power to military installations while reducing the carbon footprint, fuel demands and recurring costs of existing backup generators. Storage technology has advanced to the point that large-scale installations can provide resilient power without straining defense budgets.


According to Navigant, microgrids could help DOD reduce the $4 billion it spends on energy across its 523 installations and 280,000 buildings. The firm’s 2017 report concluded shifting from a reliance on backup diesel generators to large-scale microgrids could save the agency between $8 billion and $20 billion over the next 20 years. Recommended Reading:


Global infrastructure firm AECOM says it has begun construction on an energy storage system at Fort Carson, Colo., that will utilize a 4.25 MW/8.5 MWh lithium-ion battery developed by Lockheed Martin to help reduce energy costs and improve resilience at the base.
Once completed, the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) will be the largest stand-alone commercially contracted battery at an army base, according to the developers. The behind-the-meter system work to reduce peak electricity demand.


Unlike commercial applications, storage solutions for national security missions must provide reliable, energy-dense performance under extreme conditions.

  • Increasing the energy density of batteries, to meet the needs of the military in a more compact size
  • Identifying solutions for the nation’s energy grid to enhance national security by limiting the potential vulnerabilities from natural disasters or cyber-attacks
  • Improving batteries for renewable energy to enable more robust solutions for unattended monitoring systems used for nuclear nonproliferation safeguards



BESSs intrinsically use electro-chemical solutions which manifest in some of the following Battery Types:

1. Lithium-ion — these offer good energy storage for their size and can be charged/ discharged many times in their lifetime. They are used in a wide variety of consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, electronic cigarettes and digital cameras. They are also used in electric cars and some aircraft.

2. Lead-acid — these are traditional rechargeable batteries and are inexpensive compared to newer types of batteries. Uses include protection and control systems, back-up power supplies, and grid energy storage.

3. Sodium Sulfur — uses include storing energy from renewable sources such as solar or wind.

4. Zinc bromine — uses include storing energy from renewable sources such as solar or wind.

5. Flow — flow batteries are quite large and are generally used to store energy from renewable sources.

Why is BESS gaining popularity?

All types of BESS offer pros and cons in terms of capacity, discharge duration, energy density, safety, environmental risk, and overall cost. However, Li Ion batteries are by far the most widely used in BESS systems these days.

Decreasing costs

A major factor in the rapid increase in the use of BESS technology has been a 50% decrease in costs of energy storage over the last two years. While costs are still high compared to grid electricity, the cost of energy storage has actually been plummeting for the last 20 years. Storage systems at the utility customer level can also result in significant savings to businesses through smart grid and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) initiatives, where cars, homes and businesses are potential stores, suppliers and users of electricity.

Security of supply

Storage technologies are also popular because they improve energy security by optimizing energy supply and demand, reducing the need to import electricity via inter-connectors, and also reducing the need to continuously adjust generation unit output. In addition, BESS can provide system security by supplying energy during electricity outages, minimizing the disruption and costs associated with power cuts.

Financial incentives.

Many governments and utility regulators are actively encouraging the development of battery storage systems with financial incentives, which is likely to lead to further growth.


“We are thrilled to see that dramatic reduction in carbon emissions is within our grasp because of LAVLE energy storage advancements incorporating 3DOM technology. This is indeed a sea change in energy storage technology and for those committed to the health of our environment,” Nye added.

Risks involved in using BESS

While the use of batteries is nothing new, what is new is the size, complexity, energy density of the systems and the Li-ion battery chemistry involved — which can lead to significant fire risks.

Thermal runaway

‘Thermal runaway’ — a cycle in which excessive heat keeps creating more heat — is the major risk for Li-ion battery technology. It can be caused by a battery having internal cell defects, mechanical failures/damage or over voltage. These lead to high temperatures, gas build-up and potential explosive rupture of the battery cell, resulting in fire and/or explosion. Without disconnection, thermal runaway can also spread from one cell to the next, causing further damage.

Difficulty of fighting battery fires

Battery fires are often very intense and difficult to control. They can take days or even weeks to extinguish properly, and may seem fully extinguished when they are not.

Failure of control systems

Another issue can be failure of protection and control systems. For example, a Battery Management System (BMS) failure can lead to overcharging and an inability to monitor the operating environment, such as temperature or cell voltage.
Sensitivity of batteries to mechanical damage and electrical transients

Contrary to existing conventional battery technology, some batteries are very sensitive to mechanical damage and electrical surges. This type of damage can result in internal battery short circuits which lead to internal battery heating, battery explosions and fires. The loss of an individual battery can rapidly cascade to surrounding batteries, resulting in a larger scale fire.


LAVLE Launches Breakthrough Proteus Energy Storage System to Make Electrification Safer, More Reliable

LAVLE  announced in June 2020  the launch of its flagship Proteus Lithium-Ion Battery Energy Storage System (Proteus ESS). Designed to overcome the limitations of conventional lithium-ion storage technologies, Proteus utilizes LAVLE’s groundbreaking battery management system (BMS), which is designed to maximize reliability, lifetime, and uptime, and further enhances Proteus’ performance and safety characteristics, surpassing all other lithium-ion ESS on the market today.


Nearly 95 percent of the world’s transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels, contributing to more than 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. While marine and other transportation sectors have shifted towards electrification to counter the negative environmental effects and reduce fuel and maintenance costs, the safety and performance constraints of current lithium-ion ESS have made wider adoption of electrification solutions challenging. LAVLE’s Proteus surmounts these barriers and makes possible new applications of electric propulsion and energy storage in these sectors, which can have meaningful impacts on air emissions and sustainability.


Designed and developed by LAVLE Chief Technology Officer Dr. Ben Gully, who spearheaded thought leadership for lithium-ion battery safety within DNV-GL’s Maritime Advisory Group and facilitated the positioning of marine systems as setting the highest lithium-ion battery safety standards in the world, Proteus is the safest and most reliable ESS on the market. Its features include:

  • A highly effective thermal management system that entirely mitigates the risk of thermal runaway, with high performance liquid cooling, optimized battery chemistry, and multi-layer propagation barriers.
  • A dual redundant design that ensures no single component failure anywhere in the system can take down more than a single battery string.
  • Industry-first gas and leak detection technologies in every module.
  • High-performance active and passive balancing systems to maximize system lifetime and reliability.
  • Cloud-based high security remote monitoring.
  • Mechanical design featuring rear blind mate connections and screwless integrated module locking mechanisms.


“LAVLE’s Proteus is the superior solution for delivering the performance and assurance required to further advance electrification in marine transportation and other new markets,” said Dr. Jason Nye, CEO, LAVLE. “This is just our first step in bringing innovative, next generation technologies to market that will have a meaningful impact for carbon reduction.” Proteus is currently undergoing certification by the world’s leading classification society and recognized maritime industry advisor DNV-GL.


In addition to bringing Proteus to market, LAVLE is also making significant breakthroughs in the development of large format lithium metal battery (LMB) and solid-electrolyte battery (SEB) ESS. Currently in prototype testing, LAVLE’s LMB and SEB ESS are enabled by battery cells and separator technology from 3DOM and offer unmatched performance and safety characteristics. LAVLE’s LMB and SEB technologies have already achieved energy density of 420 Wh/kg in full size large format cells—more than double that of traditional lithium-ion batteries. The lower operating temperatures of LAVLE’s LMB and SEB at 25 degrees Centigrade ambient temperature deliver the safety characteristics necessary for broad commercial application, compared to competing solutions requiring elevated temperatures.

Noon Energy’s Breakthrough Renewable Energy Storage Technology Lands $3M Seed Investment

Today’s widely used batteries store energy in relatively expensive metals like lithium, cobalt, and vanadium. In contrast, Noon’s battery stores energy in the ultra-low-cost elements carbon and oxygen—storage media that cost well below $1 per kWh capacity, less than the cost of their containers. It does this at double the round-trip energy efficiency of hydrogen.


“Long duration storage is the missing link to a fully renewable electric grid. This is a difficult challenge because storage times must be increased from the 4 hours typical of today’s batteries to 100 hours or more. No other efficient battery chemistry comes close to Noon’s low cost because it uses only the abundant elements carbon and oxygen to store the energy. It was once thought impossible to build a battery using only these elements. Thanks to Noon’s breakthrough technology, that is no longer the case.” – Dick Swanson, Founder of SunPower, and Director on Noon’s Board.


Today’s widely used batteries store energy in relatively expensive metals like lithium, cobalt, and vanadium. In contrast, Noon’s battery stores energy in the ultra-low-cost elements carbon and oxygen—storage media that cost well below $1 per kWh capacity, less than the cost of their containers. It does this at double the round-trip energy efficiency of hydrogen. “Noon Energy offers a fundamentally novel battery technology with an extraordinarily low-cost entitlement. The technology could be substantially lower-cost than lithium-ion batteries at long durations, enabling intermittent renewables to be 100% ‘on-demand’ power. We are really excited by what Chris and the team are building, and are proud to have led the Series Seed round.” – Amy Duffuor, Principal at Prime Impact Fund, and Director on Noon’s Board.


Noon’s battery will provide long-duration stationary storage at a 10x lower storage cost than lithium-ion batteries, enabled by its earth-abundant materials and simple reaction chemistry. Sized at the 100+ hours storage capacity needed, it will make intermittent solar and wind power on-demand, 24/7 year-round, at a lower cost than fossil fuel generation and with zero emissions. Applicable to both grid-scale and smaller applications, Noon gives solar-plus-storage days to weeks of reliable storage capacity, increasing critical grid and site resilience. Additionally, its high energy density (double lithium-ion at full system level) will enable longer-range electric ships, trucks, and other vehicles.


“We have been looking for a sustainable battery solution with disruptive unit economics for a while and believe we have finally found it with Noon. By storing energy in the most earth-abundant elements, Noon not only reduces the cost of energy storage drastically, but also our reliance on mined metals like lithium and cobalt posing major social and environmental problems today. We are thrilled to partner with Chris and the team to bring this solution to the market.” – Laurie Menoud, Partner at At One Ventures.


“Noon team members and I had laid the groundwork at Columbia University and the Technical University of Denmark, where we developed CO2-to-fuels electrolysis technology to store renewable electricity in the form of hydrocarbon fuels. Noon’s novel battery is based on the same core technology, with key modifications we invented. We have pulled together a world-class team and we are excited to partner with this awesome group of investors to bring our breakthrough storage technology to market.” – Chris Graves, founder and CEO of Noon Energy. The same core technology is also currently on-board NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and will soon begin producing oxygen for the first time by electrolysis of the CO2 atmosphere on Mars. Noon’s founder helped develop this device as part of the NASA “MOXIE” science team since 2014.

Flow Batteries – batteries where the energy is stored directly in the electrolyte solution for longer cycle life, and quick response times

A flow battery is a type of rechargeable battery where rechargeability is provided by two chemical components dissolved in liquids contained within the system and most commonly separated by a membrane. This technology is akin to both a fuel cell and a battery – where liquid energy sources are tapped to create electricity and are able to be recharged within the same system.


One of the biggest advantages of flow batteries is that they can be almost instantly recharged by replacing the electrolyte liquid, while simultaneously recovering the spent material for re-energization. Different classes of flow cells (batteries) have been developed, including redox, hybrid and membraneless. The fundamental difference between conventional batteries and flow cells is that energy is stored as the electrode material in conventional batteries but as the electrolyte in flow cells.


Oregon company’s iron battery breakthrough reported in Oct 2021

SB Energy Corp., a U.S. renewable-energy firm that’s an arm of Japan’s SoftBank Group, is making a record purchase of the batteries manufactured by Energy Storage Systems. The Oregon company says it has new technology that can store renewable energy for longer and help overcome some of the reliability problems that have caused blackouts in California and record-high energy prices in Europe.


The units, which rely on something called “iron-flow chemistry,” will be used in utility-scale solar projects dotted across the U.S., allowing those power plants to provide electricity for hours after the sun sets. SB Energy will buy enough batteries over the next five years to power 50,000 American homes for a day.


“Long-duration energy storage, like this iron-flow battery, are key to adding more renewables to the grid,” said Venkat Viswanathan, a battery expert and associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.


ESS was founded in 2011 by Craig Evans, now president, and Julia Song, the chief technology officer. They recognized that while lithium-ion batteries will play a key role in electrification of transportation, longer duration grid-scale energy storage needed a different battery. That’s because while the price of lithium-ion batteries has declined 90% over the last decade, their ingredients, which sometimes include expensive metals such as cobalt and nickel, limit how low the price can fall. The deal for 2 gigawatt-hours of batteries is worth at least $300 million, according to ESS. Rich Hossfeld, chief executive officer of SB Energy, said the genius of the units lies in their simplicity.


“The battery is made of iron salt and water,” said Hossfeld. “Unlike lithium-ion batteries, iron flow batteries are really cheap to manufacture.” Every battery has four components: two electrodes between which charged particles shuffle as the battery is charged and discharged, electrolyte that allows the particles to flow smoothly and a separator that prevents the two electrodes from forming a short circuit.


Flow batteries, however, look nothing like the battery inside smartphones or electric cars. That’s because the electrolyte needs to be physically moved using pumps as the battery charges or discharges. That makes these batteries large, with ESS’s main product sold inside a shipping container. What they take up in space, they can make up in cost. Lithium-ion batteries for grid-scale storage can cost as much as $350 per kilowatt-hour. But ESS says its battery could cost $200 per kWh or less by 2025.


Crucially, adding storage capacity to cover longer interruptions at a solar or wind plant may not require purchasing an entirely new battery. Flow batteries require only extra electrolyte, which in ESS’s case can cost as little as $20 per kilowatt hour.


The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration built a flow battery as early as 1980. Because these batteries used water, they presented a much safer option for space applications than lithium-ion batteries developed around that time, which were infamous for catching on fire. Hossfeld says he’s been able to get permits for ESS batteries, even in wildfire-prone California, that wouldn’t have been given to lithium-ion versions.


Still, there was a problem with iron flow batteries. During charging, the battery can produce a small amount of hydrogen, which is a symptom of reactions that, left unchecked, shorten the battery’s life. ESS’s main innovation, said Song, was a way of keeping any hydrogen produced within the system and thus hugely extending its life.  “As soon as you close the loop on hydrogen, you suddenly turn a lab prototype into a commercially viable battery option,” said Viswanathan. ESS’s iron-flow battery can endure more than 20 years of daily use without losing much performance, said Hossfeld.


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