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Making energy storage safer, more reliable and simply mature

By Miguel Roenes BuenoDr. Matthias-Klaus SchwarzHaike van de Vegte

The increased use of different renewable energy technologies has set the focus on energy storage to improve grid power quality and reliability and to optimize the matching of energy supply and demand.

The largest volumes of electricity storage installed worldwide are delivered by pumped hydro, compressed air and battery technologies. There are additional innovative technologies at various stages of maturity, and new ones are introduced every day. New and sometimes unproven technologies are used in very different applications, often in combination with renewables, with a set of specific power and energy requirements. One single storage technology is not able to meet all sets of requirements in a cost-effective way and, thus, there will be several preferred technologies, each for different applications and certain requirements.

This situation is an ideal breeding ground for innovative solutions, both hardware and software, with complex challenges, and all this in a playground without adequate standards. Significant expertise is required to identify and mitigate the associated risks, some of them may become greater as the technologies are deployed closer to the end-user.

From a business point of view, energy storage can deliver a financial benefit through the generation of additional revenue (e.g. by energy sales or provision of grid services) or the reduction or avoidance of costs (e.g. for generation or transmission). This is only possible if the energy storage system can capture and deliver the energy at the time, in the amount and quality it is needed. Therefore, the components of an energy storage systems, including controls, should fulfil minimum quality requirements, they must be safe and reliable during their entire lifetime.

How can energy storage be made safe, effective and reliable to ensure sustainable impact for renewables integration?

In Renewables, wind and solar PV have faced similar situations, where safety, operation and performance needed to be improved. And in some areas, like offshore wind, this maturing process is still ongoing. Analysing the experiences made there, relevant factors with significant contribution in energy storage can be identified, adapted and implemented.

One of these factors is the establishment of an interested community, that shares experiences and discuses relevant topics, trying to bring the industry forward. Another important factor, is the collection of these relevant topics and the development of recommended practices and standards, within an organization (like IEC) or certification bodies (like DNV GL). Within IEC framework, the technical committee TC120 just published the two first technical specifications of the 62933 series. DNV GL published in 2015 the recommended practice DNVGL-RP-0043 “Safety, operation and performance of grid-connected energy storage systems” and will publish an update of this recommended practice in September 2017.

A very good tool for spreading good practices in fast-developing industries is the establishment of certification schemes based on such standards and recommended practices. A scheme provides a standardized assessment approach, defines clear and comprehensible technical requirements, offers a defined evaluation process and delivers an independent proof of conformity.

As in oil & gas industry, for innovative and unproven energy storage solutions, the certification can be approached using Technology Qualification. This is a proven systematic, stepwise and iterative process used to provide evidence that a new technology will function within specified limits with an acceptable level of confidence.

During the technology qualification, the level of novelty of the energy storage system and its components is evaluated and the key challenges and uncertainties in the system are identified. Possible failure modes and the resulting effect on safety, environment, operation and asset are assessed. For the certification process, a set of requirements is defined and the certification methods are selected accordingly.

The PV and wind market has used these tools described above and has been growing continuously and sustainable during the last decade. In energy storage, a similar contribution is expected, making this technology safe, effective, reliable, and… simply mature.

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