What are Battery Energy Storage Systems?

by | Sep 7, 2023 | All Articles, Battery Storage, Containerised Battery Storage, Generate Revenue, Reduce Energy Costs

What are Battery Energy Storage Systems and How can they help towards sustainable energy use.

They are being talked about more and more, which might be prompting you to ask “what are Battery Storage Systems?”.

In reality, what they are is nowhere near as important as what they do, but given that you will be hearing much more about them over the coming months and years, we’re more than happy to explain a little bit more about them.

Hopefully you find this helpful.

Why do we need Battery Energy Storage Systems?

Before looking at what Battery Energy Storage Systems do, we perhaps need to explain why they are needed.

One of the biggest issues the National Grid faces isn’t necessarily the production of electricity – it’s the distribution and balancing of the demand.

In the UK, wind and solar power are becoming more commonplace – but we can’t always guarantee the wind, or even more so, the sun.

Still, as we move away from fossil fuels and towards a Net Zero emmissions target – we have no option but to find alternative ways to produce and manage the use of our energy.

This is where a Battery Energy Storage System comes in.

What do Battery Energy Storage Systems actually do?

The term Battery Energy Storage System is pretty self-explanatory. It is a system housing batteries which are charged with energy (electricity), which is then stored within the system.

Perhaps more pertinent then would be to answer;

  • Where does the energy come from?
  • How does the storage system store it? and;
  • What does the storage system do with it once it is stored?

So let’s look at those questions individually to get a deeper understanding.

eBick-Ultra-175 Battery Storage System

Where does the energy that gets stored come from?

As we have alluded to, battery energy storage systems harness electricity drawn through renewable energy sources – such as solar or wind – but they can also draw excess energy produced within the grid itself.

If you have solar panels on a building for example, it is possible to harness the electricity you generate from the panels within an energy storage system. 

In addition to this though, it is also possible to have a stand-alone installation which connects direct to the local grid and stores surplus energy in quieter times – to be released back to the grid in times of greater demand.

How does the storage system store the electricity that is generated?

The storage system is made up of lithium-ion batteries. These are charged up with the electricity pushed into the system. Lithium-ion batteries are found in most hand-held tech we use, from smartphones and tablets, to videocameras and laptops. This makes them perfect for use in Battery Energy Storage Systems – for several reasons, including;
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High Capacity

Lithium-ion batteries are capable of holding huge amounts of power.

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More Compact

Because the batteries are more compact opens up the opportunities and scale of battery storage capability.

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Longer Life

The batteries can handle regular, high-volume use without rapid burn-out and infact, many are maintenance free, reducing overall running costs.

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Lightweight

Many of the smaller units come in connecting modular formats, or a small enough to move around easily on casters.

Using Lithium-ion batteries in Battery Energy Storage Systems makes complete sense. They can now store large amounts of electricity, in a durable, safe, compact manner.

The systems also come with monitoring software that help to gauge use and manage the flow, meaning the process is fully-automated.

These are the main factors why more and more people are already turning to Energy Storage Systems over other forms of renewable energy options. 

What does the storage system do with the energy once it is stored?

There are two main ways the energy can be used. 

Behind Meter – Self-Use

The first is for the hosting site to utilise the stored energy itself – in effect self-generating a significant amount of it’s own electricity.

This usually requires the installment of a battery storage unit – with modular versions like the eBick Utlra 175 from Spanish giants Cegasa – a preferred option. The benefit of doing this is saving money on current electricity costs from generation from other renewables such as Solar Panels on the premises. 

Front of Meter – Aggregation

Another option is to pass the stored energy back to the Grid to help it balance the demand when it’s needed, in return for a revenue.

The National Grid are pro-actively seeking sites and land that can house larger battery storage installations, such is the desperation to balance the demands.

The BESS are often stored in containers and “aggregating” software and management systems “trade” the energy to generate a regular income, with investment companies looking at BESS as a long-term, green energy asset.

Commercial premises can be used to house such systems, but is dependent on numerous factors. Whilst the cost of the BESS may be prohibitive for your company, there could be an opportunity to generate a rental income for housing such a facility on your premises. 

Who can have a Battery Energy Storage System?

For the modular systems, domestic and commercial premises with solar often lend themselves to being suitable for having Battery Energy Storage System, and it is well worth looking into – particularly if you also have EV Chargepoints / high-usage in the evenings.

For the Containerised aggregation model, the process is long, arduous and complicated. However, we are working with some of the fore-runners in the UK market for containerised systems, and we are actively seeking suitable sites. 

If you are located near to a substation or connection point for the grid, we would be happy to look into whether your site could be a viable option for connection.

If you have any questions about Battery Energy Storage Systems, please feel free to leave us a comment at the very bottom of this article – or if you have a more specific question relating to your own circumstances and wish to speak to someone directly, feel free to click the “chat” icon on this page. 

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