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What is Engineering for Scale?

Engineering for scale looks to bring the traditional advantages of economies of scale to the energy storage system (ESS) market, through use of standardization and open standards.

WHAT DOES “ENGINEERING FOR SCALE” MEAN AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

A Brief Story

About the time 1Energy Systems [now Doosan GridTech] was founded in 2011, a story circulated of a community energy storage (CES) project that was being installed. The system featured a 25kWh battery and was reported to cost around $100,000. At nearly the same time, Nissan was launching their Leaf which featured a 24kWh battery, and a car, for around $35,000. What was the difference? The CES was a one-off project and the Leaf was engineered for scale.
Community Energy Storage

Community Energy Storage

  • 25 kWh Li-ion battery
  • -$100k
Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

  • 24 kWh Li-ion battery
  • $35k
  • Plus a car
Until recently, most people viewed an energy storage system as having two components: • a battery, and • a power conversion system to convert the battery’s DC output to AC for the grid — the battery and PCS each having its own embedded software to control that component. Here at Doosan GridTech – formerly 1Energy Systems – we believe a third component is essential to an energy storage system — intelligent control software. Software allows the creation of standard interfaces. Standard interfaces enable communication between components built by different companies. Our background in the IT industry has shown us how important the creation of open standards is to unlocking innovation and expanding customer choice. So, one of our first efforts has been to work with utilities and other industry players to create a set of open standards called MESA — Modular Energy Storage Architecture. Within an ESS, MESA utilizes: • an interface for the Batteries and • an interface for the PCS. Both of these are based on the Modbus protocol and developed in conjunction with the SunSpec Alliance. By using MESA standards, control software can communicate with batteries and PCS’s from different vendors, intelligently switching and applying power control algorithms to derive maximum value from all of the components. MESA also defines an interface between the ESS and a utility’s control and scheduling systems such as SCADA. This interface is built on the DNP3 protocol. And MESA makes an ESS scalable. A utility could install a second ESS at the same location. Let’s say this one is an integrated Battery Plus PCS from a different vendor. This entire installation can be managed by a single instance of control software. When battery vendors support the MESA standard, the work to integrate additional equipment like this is minimal. Let’s extend this system once more to include an ESS at a second location on the grid, installing a flow battery that works with a PCS from yet another vendor. Insisting on MESA-compatible components makes it easy for software to control this third ESS at a second location. Having a common control platform across all components allows a coordinated set of power algorithms to be deployed across the entire fleet, as well as enabling secure, remote management via SCADA. Our customers have told us that for energy storage to become valuable to their operations, it must be intelligently integrated and managed. Open standards enables these installations to be more plug-and-play. Intelligent software makes them work together.
MESA
Modular Energy Storage Architecture (MESA) MESA is the effort to define open communication and information standards in the energy storage industry. The MESA Alliance is open to all interested utilities, industry vendors and stakeholders. The group’s first specification, MESA-Device, is available in draft form on the MESA website. For more information and to get involved with this important effort, visit the MESA website.
innovation and standard zone

ENGINEERED FOR SCALE HAS TWO KEY ELEMENTS: STANDARDIZATION AND OPEN STANDARDS.

Standardization is about identifying the parts of the system that are commodities and agreeing on a common way that they will be done. To use an electricity example, think about the light bulb and the size of the base that screws into the socket. Standardization eliminates complexity that isn’t justified by the innovation potential in that part of the system. It enables volume suppliers to drive costs way down for those components, since they can make them in very high volumes for use by all of the downstream products in the market. Standardization also improves safety by simplifying the training needed for personnel operating the product.
components that support standard interfaces can be mixed and matched with less custom engineering

Components that support standard interfaces can be mixed and matched with less custom engineering.

OPEN STANDARDS

Open Standards are defined, publicly available specifications for how different elements of a system will communicate with each other. In energy storage, open standards provide two main benefits. Well defined open standards divide a complex system into discrete components where industry can focus its proprietary innovation and then enable that innovation to come together through publicly documented interfaces that are consensus driven. They lower costs by reducing project-specific engineering, and they increase choice by allowing customers to choose systems built from interoperable components rather than buying a “black box” system from a single vendor. Non-recurring engineering (NRE) is the engineering that gets done for a project that is specific to that job. In energy storage projects, this NRE can occur at multiple levels. It can occur within the system connecting battery type A with power conversion system B and control software C. And it can occur connecting the system as a whole to SCADA system X at one utility versus SCADA system Y at another. The more the industry can agree on how these different parts will communicate with each other in advance, the less custom integration work will be needed on each project that is built from their various products.
bluetooth and wifi
Open standards also give customers the flexibility to combine the components that are best suited for their project without having to buy a “black box” from a single vendor. For an example of this second benefit, think of an open standard like Bluetooth. Before Bluetooth, you often had to buy all of your mobile phone accessories from the company that sold you their handset. Today, if you buy a Bluetooth compatible phone, you know that any accessory that supports that standard will connect to your phone. Open standards = more choices for customers.

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