In the battery energy storage supply chain, it is critical to adopt a rigorous approach to quality control and testing. The Clean Energy Association (CEA) has analyzed and discussed common manufacturing defects in battery storage systems and how quality assurance systems can detect them.
It was shown that an effective inspection system is the key to quality assurance in the production of battery storage systems. The U.S. Clean Energy Association (CEA) has been focusing on energy storage services since 2015, when the energy storage industry was in its relatively early stages. The association predicts that energy storage systems are a key enabler of the renewable energy transition in countries around the world and a valuable asset for grid operators.
The past eight years have seen the expansion of battery capacity from under 100 Ah to over 300 Ah today. Energy storage systems have transformed from containerized storage systems to today’s highly integrated, energy dense modular cabinets; and large liquid-cooled battery storage systems.
Battery suppliers are also offering specialized batteries for battery energy storage systems as opposed to the earlier use of electric vehicle batteries in grid-scale battery energy storage systems. One has also witnessed the transition from battery energy storage systems utilizing nickel, cobalt and manganese (NCM) lithium ternary batteries supplied primarily by Korean and Japanese battery manufacturers to lithium ferrous phosphate (LFP) batteries supplied exclusively by Chinese manufacturers. In addition, other energy storage technologies that have yet to achieve significant breakthroughs, such as liquid flow batteries, are also looking to capture a piece of the lithium-ion battery market.
Rapid Changes in the Battery Energy Storage Industry
Overall, the battery energy storage industry is very different from what it was a few years ago, facing significant challenges, exacerbated by high growth rates. Lithium-ion batteries have inherent limitations, and improper use can lead to excessive degradation or result in uncontrollable thermal runaway.
Manufacturing defects, as well as electrical, thermal, or mechanical abuse, can cause batteries to experience thermal runaway. In the best-case scenario, fire protection systems will prevent a battery fire from spreading and causing damage to a portion of the energy storage system. The worst case scenario could result in a total burnout of the energy storage system, leading to extended downtime. In addition, the complexity of the parts of the energy storage system creates additional points of failure that can lead to battery abuse and thermal runaway. A battery fire is a nightmare that battery storage system owners or operators would like to avoid, as it can lead to significant reputational and financial losses, as well as long-term disruptions to business operations.