Software is critical for optimizing Smart Grid Technology
In 2015, energy storage will grow 250%, from 61.9 megawatts in 2014 to an estimated 220 megawatts.
Today, energy storage systems are addressing significant grid quality challenges such as frequency regulation, ramp rate control, smoothing peak demands and more.
As energy storage becomes a critical element of the modern grid, the software that manages these systems is an essential component for three reasons:
- it ensures that the systems are able to achieve specific return on investment targets
- it future-proofs the systems, allowing them to incorporate new technologies and implement new applications
- it optimizes the design, integration, operation, and management of these complex “systems of systems.”
This software can optimize system performance, prolong battery life expectancy, support complex applications, and integrate new technologies.
There are two levels of software that manage the batteries in a battery-based storage system.
First, there is the Battery Management System or BMS, which is the firmware that regulates basic operations for the hardware. The BMS is primarily used to protect the battery. The BMS monitors the battery’s voltage, temperature, state of health, state of charge, and current, while ensuring that all of these metrics stay at levels that do not damage the battery.
Second, there is the energy storage management softwaer (SMS), which is often bundled with a bi-directional inverter.
Basic versions of this type of software integrate the batteries with the various other hardware components, receive and respond to utility supervisory control and data acquisition systems, and provide basic data about the system.
Benefits using smart software
- Using component specs and real-world system data, the software provides simulations of a system’s performance over the battery lifetime
- Because advanced energy storage management software communicates with a wide variety of components, it enables system owners to adopt a hardware agnostic approach, and choose the best battery and other technologies for the application
- By improving the day-to-day operation, advanced energy storage management software can have a significant impact on the system’s ROI. For example, an energy storage system’s performance score in the PJM frequency regulation market affects the payments its owner receives
- Advanced software provides features such as 3D visualization, helping operators to easily identify opportunities for performance improvements, and to troubleshoot problems.
- Advanced software uses an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to enable system owners to view and manage all the components in their energy storage system, including balance of plant equipment such as fire suppression and security systems. These capabilities can reduce truck rolls and human interventions, while improving system safety and reliability
With these capabilities, advanced software enables energy storage to fully realize its potential, so that it can become one of the foundation stones in a new, cleaner, more distributed, and more efficient energy grid.
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