The power storage market in the US is booming, with 476 megawatts (MW) of recent tasks put in within the third quarter of 2020 alone, up 240 % over the second quarter, in line with business analysts at Wooden MacKenzie. 2021 is anticipated to be one other record-breaking yr for storage, however with technological innovation accelerating throughout the market, renewable power asset homeowners have to fastidiously choose protected and dependable programs to guard their storage investments. Because the market accelerates, these are a couple of of the important questions you have to be asking. 

1) Consider pricing past the cell

When analysts talk about storage pricing declines, they’re referring to battery pricing, which continues to say no yearly. Bloomberg New Power Finance’s newest report states that present lithium-ion pricing stands at about $137 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and can drop as little as $100 per kWh by 2023. 

Nonetheless, purchasers of power storage system may even see considerably increased costs for his or her tasks, relying on a spread of things. For instance, the bottom pricing for lithium-ion batteries is usually obtainable for both a significant provide contract or for very large-scale deployments of 500 megawatt-hours (MWh) and above. Since most tasks at this time should not that giant, that $137 per kWh determine will likely be nearer to $150 to $170 per kWh, and maybe as excessive as $200 to $210 per kWh on the battery-pack stage, relying on the dimensions of the challenge. 

Past battery pricing, the whole value of a completely built-in battery power storage system may even embody the thermal administration system, battery administration programs, and energy conversion system, in addition to fireplace prevention and suppression know-how, SCADA, and metering. 

When contemplating all-in pricing, many storage corporations are constructing their programs in standardized, modular containers which can be faster and simpler to put in and connect with the grid. Whereas this sort of system could simplify your analysis, these enterprise fashions could embody ancillary companies, corresponding to O&M contracts, efficiency ensures, and liquidated damages.

In brief, based mostly on worth alone, an apples-to-apples analysis of storage programs from totally different suppliers is difficult, if not unimaginable.

2) Consider the chemistry and security

Procurement and pricing analysis additionally want to think about battery chemistry. In 2021, the 2 main decisions are lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) or lithium ferro (iron) phosphate (LFP). 

NMC has the next power density — power saved in proportion to weight — which additionally will increase the danger for overheating and thermal runaway, when overheating and presumably fireplace shortly unfold from one battery cell to a different. NMC can be dearer and at current solely obtainable from a restricted variety of suppliers. 

Primarily based on its chemistry alone, available LFP is anticipated to exchange NMC within the subsequent few years because the cheaper and safer of the 2 battery chemistries. LFP is safer as a result of it has a decrease power density and discharges at a gradual, sustained price. Typically, LFP chemistries may even last more than NMC, even at increased C-rates of cost and discharge, lowering the frequency for substitute and augmentation in the course of the lifetime of a challenge. Nonetheless, as a result of LFP cells have decrease power density than NMC cells, it requires more room to retailer the identical quantity of power.

Nonetheless, NMC storage is a mature know-how and can stay aggressive and efficient for all functions. The most important problem right here is to cut back the danger of thermal runaway and security failures in built-in programs. 

three) Assess provide chain and availability

One other main consideration is assessing the battery system’s provide chain within the context of the commissioning date. World demand for battery merchandise is rising with electrical car adoption, rechargeable shopper electronics, and utility-scale photo voltaic and wind tasks coupled with stationary power storage. Consequently, as soon as the battery chemistry is chosen, different concerns embody system capability, timing, and the dangers of any provide chain disruptions. 

For instance, a 2 gigawatt-hour challenge will seemingly have totally different supply-chain challenges and for much longer lead instances — two or three years — than a 5 MW/20 MWh challenge that may come on-line inside 12 months. Longer timelines can elevate issues about core steel shortages, particularly for lithium, nickel, and cobalt, that might delay the manufacturing of storage programs. 

It’s essential to observe such provide chain shortages and assess a producer’s suppliers, provider commodities, and commodity pricing, all of which can have an effect on the price of buying storage.

four) Consider bankability and high quality 

As with pricing, evaluating power storage high quality requires a system-wide method. Though battery high quality would be the high concern, the standard of the enclosure, thermal administration programs, and the facility conversion system (PCS), or inverter, are equally vital. 

Simply as with photo voltaic tasks, when the PCS fails, so does the storage system. Even when due diligence has chosen the highest-quality battery with the very best power administration software program, the PCS could cause an entire shutdown of income for days or longer.    

When it comes to assessing battery cell high quality, with so many new storage corporations getting into the market, it’s more and more vital to fee a producer bankability report that features each monetary and technical due diligence. Second, asset homeowners ought to conduct a radical on-site manufacturing facility audit that evaluations the whole manufacturing course of. The analysis features a manufacturing facility acceptance check, which verifies that the cells and programs are being constructed to design specs and are protected to function. Lastly, it’s essential to carry out in-line manufacturing monitoring and ultimate product audits to confirm the storage system’s particular person elements.

5) Consider battery administration software program

A battery system’s software program is one other more and more refined element of an set up that wants analysis for varied “value-stacking” functions. 

Utilities and builders are more and more utilizing storage programs for peak demand shaving, frequency regulation, and resiliency, and the storage firm or its distributors will handle these functions with software program. If the software program can’t correctly and optimally handle charging and discharging at the correct amount and the suitable time, then the chosen storage system could skinny the worth stack and cut back challenge profitability.

Moreover, unsophisticated battery administration software program can lower cell longevity, inflicting untimely battery augmentation or substitute outdoors of warranties and efficiency ensures. In worst instances, it may possibly fail to detect and forestall a thermal runaway occasion, thus placing the whole power storage system in danger. 

6) Consider efficiency ensures

Lastly, asset homeowners ought to independently evaluation any contracted efficiency assure, in addition to the guarantee. Whereas an ordinary guarantee covers components and labor, the efficiency assure ensures that the battery system will produce the required quantity of energy and power or be obtainable for a sure period of time for the lifetime of the challenge. 

Efficiency ensures are evolving with storage know-how and markets, however the pattern is towards versatile and throughput ensures that deal with the proprietor’s present and potential future value-stacking functions. 

Unbiased Power Storage Provide Administration and High quality Management

 Power storage applied sciences have been steadily evolving, however as we head right into a interval of accelerated development, innovation and deployment, these concerns shouldn’t be ignored when growing your power storage technique and buying an power storage system in 2021. As new manufactures and applied sciences enter the market, managing the provision chain and making certain high quality and security turns into extra complicated and significant. Power storage can and can play a essential function in fostering a world transition to a clear power financial system, however on the finish of the day there is no such thing as a shortcut or substitute for high quality.

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Aaroh Kharaya is the product supervisor for power storage at Clear Power Associates (CEA). He’s a licensed Skilled Engineer with 9 years of expertise in electrical energy programs and can be a subject skilled in battery power storage programs.

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