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Power Grid Energy Storage Will Require New Battery Integration and Scalability Solutions

Overview:

A key part of the global transition to sustainable non-fossil-fuel energy usage will depend on developing and deploying more efficient and scalable storage capabilities within power grids.

As discussed in this episode of Flash Facts, batteries are projected to play an important role in providing this needed in-grid electricity storage, however new improvements in battery integration and power connection technologies will be critical for success.

Overview of In-Grid Energy Storage Options and Trends

Although green-energy electricity generation technologies such as wind, solar and hydro-electrical have experienced widespread worldwide adoption over recent years, a major issue with renewable energy is the unpredictable nature of generation because of the dependence on external factors. For example, they can only generate power when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
In contrast, traditional power grids for over a century have been designed around a model relying on the ability to simply increase the output of fossil fuel power plants to handle usage peaks without the need for in-grid storage. Therefore, power grid operators must constantly balance surges in usage by boosting the output of high-polluting power plants in real time. More information on power grids can be found here – Sustainable Energy Sources and Power Grid Innovations Are Key to Mitigating Climate Change

The various approaches to in-grid storage include:
  • Compressed air energy storage – surplus power is used to compress air and store it, which can then be released through an air turbine to generate electricity when needed.
  • Mechanical gravity energy storage – surplus power is used to lift concrete blocks or pump water uphill, which can then be lowered via the pull of gravity to generate electricity.
  • Battery storage – surplus power is diverted into large battery arrays within the grid, which can then be used for providing electricity whenever needed.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology is currently the most economically viable approach to achieving flexible, efficient, and highly scalable in-grid storage. The following section explores some of the key enabling technologies that will help make widespread battery deployment a reality.

Battery Storage Scaling Challenges and Solutions

While the basic lithium-ion technology is similar to what we have all come to rely on for a wide range of devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets and more, the huge scale needed for power grid storage dwarfs all of these applications.

Over recent years, the experience gained by scaling up Li-ion technology for high-volume production of relatively large batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) has provided insights and solutions that can be readily adapted for in-grid battery storage.
Progressively larger battery systems can be created by grouping together many individual battery cells and connecting them efficiently to provide the targeted power levels. The number of cells and power capacity of each cell are the determining factors for total capacity of the battery system.

Building on decades of creating innovative solutions for the automotive industry, Interplex addresses the EV battery scaling challenges via a new integration system called Cell-PLX™.

Cell-PLX™ enables a variety of different customized battery modules to be designed and manufactured for connecting cylindrical, prismatic or pouch lithium-ion battery cells.

Cell-PLX™ provides a high-speed, robust laser weld attachment to the cells, thereby enabling efficient production processes, lower manufacturing costs, and high-volume operations.
Designed for manufacturability to meet specific customer requirements, Cell-PLX™ provides:
  • Robust laser welded or wire bond solutions for attachment to the battery cells
  • Customization to meet any power outputs and configurations
  • High-speed. High-volume manufacturing capabilities
  • Optimized package design to accommodate vibration environments
  • Integrated Safety Monitoring
  • Scalable Modular designs
  • Design specific options for Aluminum, Copper, Nickel, performance plastics, dielectric layers
During the assembly process, the top and bottom current collectors, control board interconnects, dielectric layers, cell holder and individual cells are brought together in a highly efficient and robust manner that can be adapted for virtually any battery size, power requirements and configuration.

Other Keys to Efficient In-Grid Battery Integration

In addition to scaling up the size and capacity of battery systems for the power grid, other key technologies will be important for overall integration and optimization. These include:
  • Robust power interconnects and busbars that will play a key role in the building of new electricity grids that must incorporate high-efficiency, reliability, and ease of maintenance.
  • Real-time software and AI programs to monitor usage and manage the battery recharging, capacity levels and release of stored energy when needed.
  • Battery system enclosures for enabling safe and secure deployment across a range of challenging environmental conditions throughout power grids.

Summary

Interplex has long been committed to leading in innovation, design, development and production of technologies that will help mitigate climate change and contribute to a greener world and are proud to contribute to the development of large-scale battery storage systems for climate friendly power grids.

Our expert design and engineering teams have been leaders in the creation of battery technologies, such as our Cell-PLX™ battery interconnect systems for EVs, and we are now working closely with the power industry to adapt these technologies for in-grid, high-capacity battery storage systems.

While it is clear there are huge challenges ahead in the transformation of conventional fossil fuel grids with no storage into smart grids that can efficiently store power for peak usage levels, it is important to understand that many enabling technologies are already available, adaptable, and extensible.

Leveraging this long history of prior research and development in battery scalability will help provide a head-start to designing and deploying the key storage capabilities to enable truly green power grids throughout the world.
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