Research targets intelligent battery management system for storing wind and solar power

Source: press release, 4 May 2020

EAI conducts battery testing into parameters such as cycle life for energy storage applications
EAI conducts battery testing into parameters such as cycle life for energy storage applications (photo: EAI)

A research project designed to balance electrical current across banks of advanced lead batteries supporting wind and solar systems has been launched in Arizona, USA.

The 18-month study, by Arizona-based Electric Applications Inc (EAI), is one of a range of innovation projects backed this year by the global research group, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI).

It will take an in-depth look into how balancing the electrical current across large strings of batteries can improve cycle life, which is the ability of a battery to continue working through numerous cycles when it is not fully charged. Improving cycle life will also help reduce the overall cost of the energy storage system, reducing the need for replacement batteries, a key consideration for utility and renewable energy providers.

EAI’s President, Don Karner, says, “We’ve seen a massive growth in demand for batteries for renewable energy storage and the cost and safety of advanced lead batteries make them the ideal choice for many applications. Our aim is to help extend the cycle life of these battery systems by closely managing charge and discharge of batteries at a series string level. These are effectively new forms of battery management systems designed specifically for lead battery based renewable energy systems.”

Dr Alistair Davidson, Director of CBI, says, “This kind of research is taking advanced lead battery technology to a new level by marrying intelligent battery management systems with banks of battery storage units. Lead batteries are particularly useful in microgrids and in managing peaks and troughs in demand, such as those experienced in renewable energy systems. The Consortium is bringing together a range of research projects all of which effectively aim to improve and extend the life of batteries which are known for being cost-efficient and safe options.”

Energy analysts Wood Mackenzie have predicted a thirteenfold increase in grid-scale storage in the next 6 years. Grid energy storage stores energy in time periods where electricity is abundant and inexpensive or when demand is low. It is then supplied back to the electrical grid when demand is high or electricity prices are higher, allowing a more efficient and economical transfer of energy.

Battery energy storage for this purpose has been vital in the global move to cleaner, renewable sources of energy where the intermittent challenge of solar and wind power generation has been overcome by storing power in batteries during these times.