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Reduce Footprint in Energy Storage Systems With nVent Solutions


Battery energy storage is a critical technology for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and building a low carbon future. Renewable energy generation is fundamentally different from traditional fossil fuel energy generation in that in renewable applications, energy cannot be produced on demand. Coal can be burned whenever power is needed—wind and solar energy rely on the wind blowing and the sun shining. Solar energy presents a particular problem in that it cannot be produced during the peak demand time for energy: at night.  

This critical difference drives a need for battery energy storage. Battery energy storage systems are electromechanical devices that store energy in batteries for use at a prescribed rate and time. This decouples time of generation from time of use and allows energy to be delivered when consumers need it. Energy storage systems are critical to achieving clean energy goals by providing better utilization of renewable resources while improving grid reliability and price stability.  

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In addition to applications in the grid, energy storage is also used in commercial and industrial applications to enhance reliability of energy availability and reduce costs by using stored power during times when grid power is particularly expensive. Residential homes or small communities can also use energy storage to achieve better energy independence and environmental sustainability by connecting energy storage systems to distributed energy resources like rooftop solar.   

nVent offers a range of solutions that offer customers the means to enhance performance, safety and reliability of energy storage systems. Our grounding, bonding, power connection and enclosures solutions help our energy storage customers form safe connections between battery racks, power converters and inverters, and protect those systems from potential disruptions. Our low-voltage power conductors and cooling solutions also add resiliency and increase design flexibility in energy storage systems, allowing engineers to reduce the footprint of energy storage installations. 

Why Do Energy Storage Systems Need to Reduce Footprint?  

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that 90 percent of the world’s electricity may come from renewables by 2050. This will require massive increase in renewable power generation. Even with more space efficient renewable technologies being developed, the physical footprint of renewable energy generation will need to increase dramatically to achieve clean energy goals. Reducing the footprint of energy storage installations allows more space to be used to generate power rather than store it.  

Footprint reduction is also important for applications like EV charging. As EVs become a more common sight on the world’s roadways, building the infrastructure to support them has become a major priority. With more cars taking advantage of charging stations, engineers working on developing EV infrastructure may not be able find enough physical space to meet demand without smaller battery energy storage systems. Similarly, commercial and residential applications may not be able to change the layouts of buildings to accommodate large energy storage systems as they build on-site renewable power and energy storage systems.  

Design and Technology Considerations for Footprint Reduction 

For all these reasons, reducing the footprint of energy storage installations is important. Even with advances in technology that have reduced the size in batteries themselves, battery energy storage installations need the right infrastructure to support using many batteries in close proximity. The best way to reduce footprint in energy storage is to reduce as much as possible the space being used for anything other than batteries. 

One of the concerns with batteries being placed very close together is the heat they generate. nVent’s experience with liquid cooling for data centers positions us well to provide solutions to this challenge. Liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling because liquid has a higher heat transfer capacity and can get closer to a source of heat than air. There will be many opportunities to deploy liquid cooling in energy storage applications to manage the heat loads generated from rising power density.  

Liquid cooling works in energy storage applications by using a chiller to pump cooled fluid through the system in a closed loop, with precision control adjusting fluid temperature and flow rates to maximize efficiency. By raising the cooling capacity of energy storage systems with liquid cooling, battery module manufacturers can fit more batteries closer together and increase the power capacity of their installations without increasing footprint.  

Even with batteries appropriately cooled though, they still need to be connected to one another, and to the grid or other application they are powering. Traditional cable solutions, while appropriate in some applications, can be difficult to use when footprint reduction is a primary concern because they often do not have a safe bending radius high enough to accommodate tight turns in small spaces. In these situations, flexible conductors, such as nVent’s flexible busbars and braids from the nVent ILSCO brand, can offer better design flexibility due to the reduced cross-section and minimal bend radius requirements. These solutions can also be prefabricated to save time and labor on job sites. 

What Next?  

Demand for energy storage will continue to grow as government investments in infrastructure increase around the world, microgrids become more common and electric vehicles see widespread adoption. Reducing footprint for energy storage systems will be a challenge for battery module manufacturers, power companies, commercial buildings and more. Thinking about these challenges and developing technology to reduce footprint now will help energy storage companies get out ahead of the competition. Reexamining power connections and cooling approach is a great place to start. 




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