brAIn by FUERGY is not just an ordinary accumulator that balances the disharmony between green electricity production and consumption – the so-called Duck curve. It is a smart device that helps both the customer and the transmission system to save not only money but also the unnecessary energy waste. Photovoltaic is not even obligatory for the installation of the battery storage brAIn.
For those who don't know much about energy, it's a good idea to start from the very beginning. And that is by understanding the basic principles of electricity production, distribution, and consumption:
Each electricity consumer (i.e. delivery point) buys electricity from one of the electricity suppliers.
Based on historical data and various forecasts of customers' consumption, as well as the preannounced outages, the electricity supplier prepares a consumption plan of his entire customer portfolio for the following day “D-1” and buys the respective amount of electricity from electricity producers. On day “D” and according to this plan divided into 15-minute intervals, the power plants and other sources produce the required amount of electricity.
However, during the day “D”, the real electricity consumption of the delivery points fluctuates and is not always as planned. Certain deviations from the plan thus emerge. For these deviations, the electricity supplier often pays substantial penalties. But we will come to that later.
- At every moment, there must always be as much electricity in the power grid as is actually consumed. The frequency in the transmission system then ranges between 49.8 to 50.2 Hz. If this frequency was lower or higher, there would be a risk of blackouts and damage to equipment and appliances connected to the power grid. Fluctuations in the electricity consumption and inaccurate planning by electricity suppliers thus result in the transmission system being either in surplus, i.e. there is too much electricity in the power grid, or in shortage, i.e. electricity needs to be additionally supplied. This is where the ancillary service providers come into play. They supply or withdraw electricity from the power grid during the day just as is needed and for this service they get financially remunerated by the transmission system operator (TSO).
- Let's go back to the penalties paid by electricity suppliers for their inaccurate plans. They only pay these penalties when their activities place a greater burden on the power grid. For example, when their customers consume more electricity than planned and at the same time, the power grid was in shortage. In other words, there was a lack of electricity in the transmission system and customers consumed more than they should have according to the plan. The TSO, therefore, fines the electricity supplier. These penalties cover the financial costs incurred by the ancillary service providers, who will immediately supply the missing electricity. However, if the supplier’s customers consume less electricity than planned and at the same moment the power grid is in shortage, the supplier thus 'helped' the power grid. The TSO remunerates him as it would remunerate any other ancillary service provider. This is the situation that the energy storage system brAIn tries to achieve by well-timed charging and discharging of batteries. In other words, battery storage brAIn provides a non-certified ancillary service which is just as efficient yet emission-free.
What is the difference between brAIn and basic battery system?
Basic storage without special energy management and interconnection with the electricity supplier's systems primarily monitors the performance of the PV system. If the PV output is high, the delivery point runs on the generated green electricity and stores the excess electricity in the storage. If the PV output is low, the stored energy is consumed and then the delivery point automatically switches to electricity from the power grid.
However, it may happen that the consumption of the delivery point is too low at the time when the PV produces the most electricity. As long as the battery storage is fully charged at that moment, the produced green energy might end up unused. In practice, companies with their own photovoltaic power plant are able to use only about 50% of the produced green electricity and just about 60% of the capacity of basic battery storage.
Capacity utilization: Basic battery storage vs. battery storage brAIn by FUERGY
The battery brAIn uses 100% of its storage capacity and helps to use up to 90% of the electricity generated by PV. The size of the battery storage is designed according to the delivery point’s production and consumption diagram, so that it can be charged and discharged several times throughout the day, and thus its capacity could be used to the maximum extent. It is installed behind the smart meter, which means that the battery storage is part of the delivery point, not the power grid.
How does brAIn work?
The FUERGY software constantly analyses the electricity production and consumption of the delivery point, the situation in the power grid, the energy supplier's systems, the weather forecast, and many other factors. Thanks to the artificial intelligence implemented in the prediction algorithms, the software can more efficiently evaluate when and with what amount of electricity it will be most advantageous to charge and discharge the battery.
And it does so without restraining the operation of the delivery point in the first place. It always has as much electricity as needed, no matter where the electricity comes from – the power grid, PV or battery storage. brAIn just ensures that the electricity comes from the most financially viable opportunity.
In times of surplus, brAIn charges the batteries with the electricity from the grid, boosts the power output of energy-intensive technologies or even charges the electric vehicles (EVs). When the electricity is missing, it reduces the consumption from the grid as much as possible, so it uses the stored energy, reduces the output of technologies or uses the electricity from the EV batteries (in case the FUERGY software assumes that the EV battery will be recharged with cheaper electricity before the vehicle is in use again).
Lower energy bill even without PV system
By generating its own green electricity through a PV system, the customer lowers its consumption from the power grid. Smart battery storage brAIn helps to shift electricity consumption over time. This means that the amount of electricity from the power grid remains the same, the consumption just happens when the power grid needs it. For each "help" provided to the power grid, i.e. provision of a non-certified ancillary service, the customer gets financially rewarded by the transmission system operator. This reward ultimately reduces customer's total electricity costs.
What are the other benefits of brAIn?
In addition to revenue from the provision of ancillary services, brAIn can also optimize some other costs associated with electricity consumption and supply. For example, it compensates for reactive power and prevents exceeding the reserved capacity (in some cases even lower it for a given delivery point).
It can also serve as a back-up energy source, providing effective protection during short-term power outages or micro-power outages, which can cause major losses for some businesses. In that case, a part of the storage capacity stays constantly charged and the software does not work with it. However, such limitation translates into a lower financial effect and thus a slightly slower payback period.
The energy optimization happens in real-time. Through the FUERGY web application, the brAIn users can access the online data on the production and consumption of the delivery point as well as the savings achieved.
What is involved in connecting a high-capacity battery storage to the distribution network?
Similar to a new delivery point or PV, connecting battery storage to the distribution network requires the approval of the relevant distribution company. However, the storage must meet a number of technical standards and administrative requirements. Meeting strict technical standards without sufficient know-how and experience could be quite hard. To date, FUERGY is the only commercial company in Slovakia that has successfully connected the high-capacity storage systems to the distribution network and is able to operate them with an attractive economic return.
What happens if battery storage is not properly managed?
Even if the storage is connected to the distribution network, it needs to be controlled properly and with care. Otherwise:
1. The capacity of the storage is not fully used
As it was earlier mentioned, less than two-thirds of the capacity of basic battery storage is usually being used. Having one-third of the capacity unengaged means that the payback period of the battery storage unnecessarily extends. The battery storage brAIn is able to perform multiple tasks and uses its capacity to the absolute maximum. This is why the payback period for brAIn storage alone is now less than two years and for brAIn paired with PV system it is less than four years.
2. Usable storage capacity rapidly decreases
The storage system must be handled with utmost care. This is the only way to guarantee its long life. For this still relatively expensive technology, it is one of the non-negligible parameters. Each type of battery has its own technical specifications and requirements, and its usable capacity naturally decreases over time. For the batteries we use in the battery storage brAIn, the capacity decreases approximately by 1.5 percent each year. In case of incorrect charging and discharging, the capacity can decrease by 30 percent year-on-year, which significantly degrades the storage and, in many cases, it will not even "live" long enough to pay back the investment costs.
3. The batteries will simply burn out
The most drastic scenario of improper battery storage management is its burnout. Similar to the rapid reduction of usable storage capacity, the financial loss in such a case is huge. In our brAIn systems, we only use batteries with TÜV certification based on LiFePO4 technology, where there is only a minimal threat to life. In the event of a malfunction, LiFePO4 batteries start to smoke but do not catch fire. That is why, unlike Li-Ion battery storage systems which due to the high risk of fire can only be placed outdoors, brAIn systems are suitable both for exterior and interior installations.
As you can see, just as with other professions, not anyone can install high-capacity battery storage for you. But if you rely on experts, your battery storage system will save you more money for a much longer period of time.
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