The emergence of smart batteries will be a key step in the definitive deployment of sectors such as self-consumption and electric mobility.
The transition to a clean, sustainable and user-centered energy market is one of the biggest initiatives that Europe poses to effectively combat climate change in the coming decades. Faced this ambitious challenge, sectors such as the electric vehicle and self-consumption begin to break through, showing their enormous potential and breaking down technological, social and legal barriers. However, even today these sectors are growing slowly due to a common problem: the need for batteries with a cost-benefit ratio that is much higher than the current state-of-the-art may offer.
Considering electric vehicles, the critical points when selecting a battery would be energy density and safety while, in the case of self-consumption, the return on investment prevails. While it is true that the development of new batteries with advanced features is not a minor issue, the short-term challenge is to address these critical points by optimizing Battery Management Systems (BMS) for each particular application.
A BMS is in charge of monitoring all the parameters of interest during battery operation, as well as managing the charging and discharging processes, in accordance with pre-established control algorithms, usually set by the battery manufacturer. However, the benefits of the same battery can vary greatly depending on the user and the application and consequently, the same algorithm may not be equally effective in all cases, limiting performance. Therefore, the application of digital technologies and artificial intelligence in the design of the BMS is presented as a powerful tool for the creation of intelligent batteries adapted to each user and application.
The arrival of smart batteries will mean a higher level of safety and performance in electric vehicles, since the battery will learn from the user and anticipate their needs, always staying within limits that guarantee their safety, capacity and health. In the case of stationary storage batteries, such as those used for domestic and industrial self-consumption, the management of the BMS can be even more complicated since, in addition to the user’s consumption profile, it intervenes the intermittent energy generation profile supplied, in most of the cases, by solar panels. In this type of installation, the performance can be increased up to 10% through intelligent management by applying predictive control algorithms and machine learning techniques. On the other hand, smart batteries would allow to connect with each other to exchange energy between users or with the network, which would allow its owner to generate extra benefits derived from the purchase and sale of electricity and to improve its amortization.
This concept of smart batteries for self-consumption modules will be developed and validated by NVISION over the next four years through the European CUBER project (H2020, LC-BAT-04-2019). Another of the particularities of the project is the use of a copper-based flow battery system for the first time, instead of Li-ion batteries. In the previous graph you can see the integration of the battery, with the power module, the generation system (hybrid solar panels) and the user through the IoT platform developed by NVISION. The results obtained will be an important step for the development and commercialization of self-consumption systems as well as an important business opportunity for the companies involved.
Laura Sanz, Chief of Research and Development Officer in NVISION and PhD in Electrochemical Engineering