TTI/Amphenol Communications Solutions
Energy storage systems are used in a variety of renewable energy sources to store power and stabilize electrical performance. With the growth of interconnected systems as well as an increased focus on clean energy at both commercial and residential levels, these systems require increasingly rugged and capable components. Today’s energy storage systems manage peak and off-peak power requirements and help stabilize the electrical grid. From wall-mounted modules in smart homes to stacked racks that manage commercial smart grids, energy storage systems are reshaping how we produce and use energy.
There are several factors contributing to the increased adoption and capabilities of these systems around International and national governmental sustainability ambitions are a big driver towards renewable energy. The European Union’s new climate targets call for the use of at least 40% renewable energy by 2030, and the United States has set a goal of net zero emissions by 2045. Similarly, China is aiming to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutral output before 2060 by increasing its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200 GW by 2030.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also shaping how energy is sourced. The war has destabilized the supply of low-cost oil and gas, causing the price of energy to skyrocket. Europe faces potential fuel rationing this winter, and fewer households can afford to use energy as they used to.
These trends are fueling the adoption of renewable sources of energy across the world, but limitations in the technology still exist. Wind and solar farms only generate electricity in proper weather environments, which can create challenges when electricity demand is high during times with no wind or sun. Additionally, when electricity demand is low, grid operators may need to switch off their wind farms, resulting in fines and underutilized assets. This is due to grid frequency balancing, which is critical to maintaining national power supplies – if too much or too little electricity is fed into the grid, it can fluctuate and affect the electricity supply chain, potentially resulting in outages.
Energy storage systems have emerged as an increasingly important component of the energy supply chain, especially as countries begin transitioning to the use of renewable energy sources. Technology trends are also helping the increased adoption of energy storage systems – increasing electric vehicle sales along with decreasing battery costs and the decentralization of energy generation are all driving the growth of these systems.
Residential use. This solution is rapidly being adopted for residential applications --decentralized energy storage systems can be seen on homes with solar panels and in the bidirectional charging capabilities of electric vehicle batteries. Japan and Europe are leading the way in developing highly self-supporting homes. While commercial energy storage systems have always been highly grid-related, a similar trend is emerging in the residential space in the form of home energy management systems, which integrates different subsystems including solar panels, meters, inverters, batteries and more. This trend will continue to grow as more smart electronics with sensors and wireless technology are integrated into energy solutions.
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Figure 2: Solar Panels, commercial use
Commercial use. Meanwhile, the commercial application of electronic storage systems continues to grow by becoming more advanced and self-supporting. Commercial energy storage systems no longer only store energy but also balance frequencies, measure output and communicate with other systems. Modern commercial storage systems include battery packs, battery management systems, energy management systems, power control systems and systems to control air temperature.
DESIGN CHALLENGES AND CONSIDERATIONS
Whether residential or commercial, these energy storage systems are made up of a set of subsystems, each individually responsible for performing a specific task. They must be built to last – design should be modular, allowing for easy expansion or repair; they should utilize reliable technology proven to work in other demanding industries such as automotive or industrial; and their footprint should be small, especially for residential applications.
Control systems are being designed to be more robust, as they are expected to have a long system life and withstand vibration or temperature changes. Commercial energy storage systems are becoming more intelligent and self-supporting with a larger number of subsystems, including energy management systems, power control systems, HVAC systems and battery management systems, which become the ‘brain’ of the overall system – similar to electric vehicles.
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Figure 3: Charging Station
SOLUTIONS FOR ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM INTERCONNECTS
Long-lasting energy storage systems require reliable interconnects. These box-built systems utilize circuit boards with several modular add-on boards, and inside the box a standard interconnect is used to support long system life. One increasing trend is toward using dual-beam contact systems, where pre-stressed contact beans are used to ensure a constant normal force over time, even under vibration.
Even though both commercial and residential storage systems are used in climate-controlled environments, designers often prefer dimensional stable plastics and high operating temperature capabilities, as well as active latching, terminal position assurance, and connector position assurance which help prevent unintentional cable release.
Overall, engineers have expressed interest in using automotive-grade interconnects for energy storage systems as they are more broadly being used in remote locations. Many battery system original equipment manufacturers are used to designing with automotive grade interconnects for electric vehicles and prefer to use the same proven and qualified technology for energy storage systems. There is also a growing interest in hybrid technology that offers both wire-to-board and board-to-board connectivity in order to save space and simplify assembly.
Amphenol develops its interconnect components for demanding applications, taking into consideration contact systems and dimension-stable plastics. Amphenol is also expanding its range towards hybrid solutions and offers a full range of automotive grade wire-to-board and flexible printed circuit-to-board interconnects, which are the connectors of choice for electric vehicle battery management systems due to their current density. Additionally, Amphenol is expanding its existing ranges by adding blind-mated interfaces and active latches to meet the need for preventing unintentional cable release. These interconnect solutions are all increasingly being adopted for commercial energy storage systems.
Amphenol has built a strong partnership with TTI, which stocks many of the interconnect families used for energy storage solutions. Amphenol has offered webinar training sessions to more than 200 TII employees to provide insight on energy storage trends and interconnect needs, so they can offer the best solutions for any application.