What is Smart Energy Storage?
This year’s Battery Show in Novi, Michigan was a success for us here at eCAMION. The show gave us a great opportunity to reach out to a captive professional audience, present them our cutting-edge technologies, and explain how eCAMION’s solution can take their business to the next level. Our team has got many questions about what is so SMART about our energy storage solutions, as stated in eCAMION’s messages. So we thought we’d take a minute to answer the following questions:
- What is the difference between a simple and complex electric system?
- Why does the complex one require smart energy storage?
- What is the BMS?
- eCAMION’s Solution of the Smart Energy System Challenge
- The main distinctions and advantages of this approach
What is the difference between a simple and complex electric system?
The main characteristics that determine the complexity of a system are the number of electrical loads, the number of electrical sources and the control, protection and management function to be imposed on the system to meet the operational requirements.
To demonstrate let’s look at a few familiar systems, from different sides of the scale. The first would be a flashlight, it has one load – the light bulb; and one source of energy – the battery. The system operation states are simple on and off. When the flashlight is “on” the light bulb pulls power from the
battery. While the battery may have a BMS to manage it, for a flashlight there is no need for an MS
(Management System) controller that regulates the system (in this case – the flashlight).
An example of a big system that is still fairly simple is an electric vehicle. There is one main load – the electric motor, and one source of power – the battery. A simple BMS would be required to regulate and protect the battery.
Now let’s look at a more complex system, an electric grid. The grid will have numerous power sources and loads at the same time. Such a complex system requires management, in this case, the utility control room where all of the system’s requirements are managed.
Why does the complex system require Smart energy storage?
Let’s look at a micro-grid system. A micro-grid will have multiple loads and sources of power (i.e. grid, solar panels, wind turbines and an energy storage). If there is no algorithm managing the system, the laws of physics will do it for us. While this may be good enough for the simple systems (like the flashlight) it just won’t cut it for the complex one. In essence, the complex system requires an MS exactly like any other system. eCAMION’s MS is managing the different loads and power sources together. This MS is crucial to make sure the system and sub-systems are balanced, receive the right amount of power and remain within the limits. The Smart System manages energy at two levels: the battery management system (BMS) and the whole electric system. We at eCAMION define the overarching intelligence that integrates the BMS and the various loads and sources of energy and manages the entire system in an optimal way as CPPM.
What is the BMS?
BMS stands for Battery Management System and is an integral component of the battery. Batteries have two main components, the battery’s cells, and the BMS. The BMS monitors the state of charge, discharge rate and temperature of the cells among other things and ensures that all of the batteries’ parameters are within the right limits. For example, if a battery cell is discharged and outputting a high amp, the BMS will send commands to disconnect the battery. Having said that, the BMS won’t know how to react to system requirements. For example, if you have a grid connected micro-grid with solar and energy storage, the BMS won’t have any information about, or control over, where the energy generated by the solar panels is directed. A management scheme for the entire system is needed to direct that solar power to the grid, to the battery, or to the loads, the BMS will only monitor and protect the battery from going out of prescribed limits (temperature/overcharge/undercharge etc.), but not the equipment (load) on the system
eCAMION’s solution of the Smart Energy System challenge
eCAMION together with the University of Toronto have developed a management scheme called CPPM; which stands for Control, Protection and Power Management. The CPPM, in essence, is the brains of the system, it monitors and manages all of the power sources and loads, understands the system’s requirements and capabilities. Using sophisticated algorithms and hardware with sub-cycle response time, the CPPM allows safe and seamless operation of complex micro-grids. The CPPM has the ability to make decisions autonomously (based on criteria that were programmed in advance) and act as a local hydro control room. In addition, the algorithm allows any utility control room to connect and manage CPPM remotely if needed.
The main distinctions and advantages of this approach
The biggest advantage is that the system is managed by predefined logics and not the basic laws of physics. Each source would generate only what is needed and at maximum efficiency. Loads won’t receive high voltages or amps that may harm them and the energy storage system would charge and discharge as required. The CPPM allows for control and optimization to meet the needs of the application it is being deployed in. Additionally the CPPM is software based meaning that the software parameters can be updated to reflect any changes in the needs of the system. There is no need for expensive re-engineering of the hardware.
To the full talk by Professor Reza Iravani