Certification for different territories the ‘main’ challenge for ESS R&D, Tesvolt CEO says
As it prepares to break ground on a ‘Gigafactory’, energy storage system provider Tesvolt has said that gaining certification across diverse regions remains the biggest challenge in forming strategy today.
The company seeks to serve “all applications you need in the world”, with its battery energy storage systems, according to CEO Daniel Hannemann, who spoke with Energy-Storage.news last week in Munich at Intersolar Europe / ees Europe.
Along with systems for peak load shaving, self-consumption of solar energy, for use off-grid and other stationary applications, Tesvolt has recently diversified into a novel use for batteries – powering hybrid electric vessels in Norway and fully electric vessels in Germany.
Only around 10 such systems have been delivered to date by the company under a pilot deployment, but the Tesvolt CEO said that there is potential for a “huge market”. Meanwhile, Hannemann sees that bigger, more established players from the auto industry are likely to dominate electric vehicle markets, meaning that Tesvolt is limiting its involvement in that field to electric car chargers, which nonetheless are themselves going to represent a big opportunity.
“One of the biggest problems at the moment is EV charging, for e-mobility. We need a lot of charging stations, so in Germany, in Europe there is only the chance of 15% public charging stations and 85% of all the needs of charging stations is in commercial or private houses or facilities,” Hanneman said.
“The problem is you need a lot of loads and therefore you need a storage system because you have a lot of peaks with EV charging and that’s very expensive in Germany and they’ve had a lot of interest to deliver charging stations with storage systems.”
Certification for more than 30 countries: ‘the main problem’
As well as projects that serve as a demonstration of what stationary storage can do, such as the commercial-scale system that powered beer tents at last year’s Oktoberfest, some of Tesvolt’s more recent projects include providing the battery portion of a large unsubsidised solar farm in the UK that helps demonstrate a clear path to putting renewables at the heart of grid infrastructure. Hannemann said that while Tesvolt technology can be adapted to “any application”, actually entering different markets means proving that this is the case, time and time again.
“The main problem in R&D is to make certification for all the countries. This is the main problem,” Hannemann said.
“So for US, Australian certification. We deliver in more than 30 countries and so that’s a very complex to make it and this is the main part of R&D, to solve this problem of certification.”
This includes recognised standards for safety, on which work to develop is ongoing. Energy-Storage.news has heard from a number of commenters, including NEC’s Roger Lin, who sits on the US’ National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) board drafting standards on Energy Storage and the Built Environment, with standards expected to be published this summer.
Tesvolt sees safety as paramount, the company’s CEO said, before explaining that it is able to also provide 10-year warranties. Tesvolt’s battery cells are all sourced from Samsung SDI and its inverters from SMA. The forthcoming Gigafactory will be an assembly plant for all of Tesvolt’s range, from small commercial to large utility-scale, multi-megawatt systems.
“The cells come from Samsung and then we make [the] packaging of the module. The electric components, all the platings, the cabling, electric components, container and so on. There’s a lot of work in our factory that we need the space [for]. It’s a whole system factory, not a battery factory. Like a car manufacturer assembles the car and also gets the cells from LG or something. This is our knowhow: to deliver a system, the knowhow from Samsung is only to make batteries, not the whole system.”
‘Customers get the best power out of the batteries every time’
With many rivals now on the market and making similar claims about just how good their system technology is, the Tesvolt CEO was keen to talk up some aspects of his company’s tech, claiming big increases in efficiency in the newest iteration of Tesvolt’s lithium-ion TPS containerised units in combination with Samsung SDI’s newest cells. Cell monitoring and system balancing is a big part of that.
Each module is monitored for metrics including voltage, temperature and state of health and displayed “transparently”. Tesvolt also provides active battery optimisation. In passive balancing systems used by some other makers, cells “are brought to the level of the weakest cell by burning the strongest energy,” Hannemann said.
“This is the main problem because the weakest cell decides the power of the module.”
“We have active battery optimisers, so we connect each cell together and the balance takes place between our battery cells, within the battery module and even between the different battery modules. Customers get the best power out of the batteries every time. There you have a high-efficiency, fast in balancing and a very, low self-consumption [degradation] of the system.”
With a Gigafactory on the way – albeit one considerably smaller than Tesla’s facility in Nevada or some of the Chinese manufacturer’s factories in the EV space – Hannemann said that balancing production to meet demand in diverse applications and regions will not be a problem for Tesvolt.
“For Tesvolt, it’s easy, our system is everything the same, same modules, same cables, same active power unit, the same rack. The difference is only the inverter.”