Grid Scale, Solar, Storage, Wind Power

New Software Optimizes Grid-scale Energy Storage, Gathers Vital Information for Grid Operators

When developing new energy projects, there are several software applications that can help with technology procurement decisions and monitoring. These programs are especially helpful in emerging technology fields like energy storage, where data can answer previously hazy application questions and potentially increase return on investment (ROI).

The folks at Greensmith have set out to offer comprehensive software for the energy storage industry called the Greensmith Energy Management System (GEMS) platform, which monitors frequency regulation and ramp rate control. It just added two new programs, StorageView and StorageModel, to their Greensmith Energy Management Systems (GEMS) to help both develop and manage large-scale systems. And they’re not only looking at the industry on a project-by-project basis — they are hoping that their data will be a key factor in aiding utility grid management.

Greensmith’s StorageView 3D performance modeling. Credit: Greensmith.

Greensmith isn’t just a software company, however, it offers complete energy storage systems. In fact, it installed about one-third of the energy storage capacity in the U.S. in 2014, according to CEO John Jung. Now that it has built up a solid portfolio since 2008 that includes more than 50 systems and 12 different battery technologies, it has decided to beef up its software offerings. 

“We’re not a battery manufacturer, and while battery technology advancements are important, lots of things needs to come together for a project to succeed,” said Jung. “It needs to be integrated and designed properly with a specific set of software technologies to make sure it is deployed well.”

Without proper preparation, energy storage projects can succumb to several common errors, according to Jung. For example, using the wrong battery technology or even oversizing required capacity can result in battery mismanagement and ultimately catastrophic failure.

To avoid these pitfalls, Greensmith is offering an “entire energy storage simulator.” StorageModel starts at the beginning of project design, using existing project data to analyze technical specifications such as battery life and capacity range in order to estimate lifetime storage system performance scenarios. Developers are able to see how each system design might play out and make a more informed decision.  “We see a higher degree of success in design, which makes ROI that much easier out of the gate,” said Jung.

StorageView comes into play after the project is designed and installed. This program displays a real-time 3D model of system performance, which can help owners identify potential issues, optimize performance, and reduce operations costs. 

“StorageView allows you to consume and digest performance data down to the battery and inverter level to asses the overall system and how is it performing relative to the design parameters,” said Jung, adding that the system can be used “to improve existing energy storage assets that are not meeting all performance metrics assigned for that particular project.”

As for ROI potential and total savings, Jung refrained from commenting on specific numbers, but said that out of the 50 systems the company has delivered, with more than half at commercial grade, this software has reduced system payback period by several years.

Greensmith regularly updates the database that each program uses to design and monitor the projects, so it’s collecting quite the cache of energy storage data that may be very attractive to grid managers as more renewable energy enters the grid.

“Our data integration includes a rich amount of data that power companies and utilities use to optimize performance and longevity. There’s a vast amount of opportunity in data analytics. We’re not talking about research and development here, were talking about real technological offerings for the grid industry,” said Jung. “Utilities will increasingly benefit from a lot of data, which will lead to better decisions. This is just the beginning — there’s a lot more to come.”