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What are battery energy storage systems and how do they work?


Storing energy is not a new concept, you may have used small scale rechargeable batteries for years in your home or workplace. Interest in batteries as an energy store on a commercial scale has increased in recent years. We often get asked to explain exactly what battery energy storage systems are, how they work and what benefits they can bring to a business. Our sales manager, Lexi Green, explains.

“Battery energy storage systems (or BESS as they are sometimes known) are systems that can capture and store energy – either from the grid or from renewables such as solar and wind power – and then use that power when it is needed.

Their use on a commercial scale has grown over the last few years, primarily due to two key reasons: the proliferation of solar PV for commercial premises and the growth of electric vehicles which has led to an increased electricity demand needed for charging.

Solar PV generation in the UK has increased substantially in recent years however much of that energy generated is wasted because the energy is not stored. This is where battery storage comes in. As the world moves to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, renewable energy generation working alongside battery energy storage is key.

Another key driver in the rise of battery energy storage is the increase in the number of electric vehicles on the roads. Lithium-ion, which is used in EV batteries, are ideal for the use of energy storage. Multiple batteries, combined into one system, operated through control systems and software are revolutionary.


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They have the ability to store energy for periods of time and can then decide when to discharge and use that energy. They can respond to requests to charge and discharge within milliseconds, becoming a critical addition on a busy site with changing requirements.

This could be to manage peak demands or capacity constraints, to reduce costs by using energy from the battery when electricity tariffs are at peak as well as making the most of renewable energy.

What are the benefits of battery energy storage?

Our systems are being used in multiple ways:

• Making the most of renewable energy: both solar PV and wind production are known for their variability. The battery can be charged directly when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, with the ability to then use that energy when it’s not.

• Managing peak loads or capacity constraints: for sites with limited power or where they need to bring in additional energy intensive equipment, battery storage can provide the buffer a site needs.

• Supporting EV charging: as the demand for electric vehicles increases, so does the power needed to charge them. Battery energy storage can support this by providing additional power on-site to avoid capacity issues.

• Reducing energy costs: by charging the battery when energy costs are lower and using that energy when tariffs are at their peak.

• Revenue generation: battery storage can also provide grid balancing services which is something that the National Grid pays customers for. We explore this in more depth in our recent blog: Making it all add up – revenue generation from battery energy storage.

Battery energy storage systems may be a relatively new concept however, they are mostly here to stay. Providing multiple benefits to a site, they will become a critical part of the energy mix of the future.”

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