Recent events have underlined just how important it is for companies, organizations, governments, and even whole nations to focus closely on their energy consumption – both where it comes from and how it is used. Not only is it increasingly important to be self-sufficient but there is now an incontrovertible need for the cleanest possible power sources.
One of the arguments often put forward by those who struggle to see how these power sources can be adopted is that they also cannot be affordable. The claim is that while they may help reduce the impact that we are all having on the world, this will come at an unrealistically high cost.
Thankfully, this line of thinking has been thwarted by a solution that has been in development for many years but has now reached maturity – an Energy Storage System (ESS) that uses long-life, low maintenance Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. When operated in hybrid mode with a power generator, these energy storage systems offer users especially high levels of efficiency while minimizing costs. And, when working in island mode, Energy Storage Systems can achieve a full green solution, storing and delivering energy coming from renewable sources, like solar or wind.
The impressive features of Li-ion batteries have made them the ideal choice for the latest energy storage units. The batteries deliver an unbeatable combination of high energy density, high efficiency, small footprint/lightweight design and excellent load characteristics.
Using a battery-based Energy Storage System
A battery-based Energy Storage System consists of a set of batteries and an inverter system. The batteries store the energy (in kWh) while the inverter delivers the power (in kW). Such energy storage solutions are ideal for applications as diverse as city center events and construction sites, for example working alongside solar panels which would recharge the batteries automatically.
The latest range of battery-based Energy Storage Systems from Atlas Copco has been developed to provide energy solutions to users in noise-sensitive or remote environments. These energy storage units have proved ideal for those who need temporary power for any number of reasons – whether emergency, overhaul, or maintenance, to cover for a peak in production or to provide off-grid power.
With a 1.4m2 footprint, Atlas Copco’s Energy Storage Systems may be 70% smaller and lighter than traditional power generators but a single unit can provide over 12 hours of energy with a single charge (typical charging time 1.5 hours). Finally, these energy storage models offer an unprecedented working life of over 40,000 hours, equivalent to more than 1,600 days of continuous operation.
The latest ZBC models from Atlas Copco – offering rated power from 100kVA to 1000kVA and energy storage capacities of between 250kWh and 2000kWh – have proved ideal for demanding applications that need a substantial and constant flow of electrical energy.
On top of lower operational and maintenance costs, a battery-based energy storage solution ensures minimal environmental impact and lower fuel consumption, meaning substantial savings for rental companies and end-users. The modern Energy Storage System’s ability to deliver zero noise is crucial for a longer working day, especially when operating into the night or in metropolitan areas that have tough noise restrictions.
A hybrid future
Battery-based Energy Storage Systems used in conjunction with generators have dealt a major blow to the naysayers by combining higher levels of sustainability with more rapid return on investment (ROI) and low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). A hybrid energy storage solution will typically pay initial costs back in no more than two years.
Using an Energy Storage System with a generator in hybrid mode enables operators to use a smaller-sized generator, downsizing the solution, saving money on hardware, extending the generator’s working life, optimizing performance levels, and rising the level of sustainability on site.
For example, in a hybrid system based around Atlas Copco’s ZBC plug-and-play energy storage system connected to a downsized mobile diesel generator, a rental company could expect to save up to 80% in fuel costs. On a construction site, a hybrid energy storage solution would be able to feed low loads during the night with the batteries supplying extra power when required, cancelling out any power module inefficiencies due to partial loads by keeping the energy storage unit loaded. With the Energy Storage System recharged by the generator, such a solution would not only improve performance levels for workers but also ensure batteries always remained fully charged for when they were needed most.
Other advantages of an ESS/generator hybrid solution include significant reductions in CO2 emissions, fewer service intervals, quiet downtime and low levels of refueling actions – which in turn lead to a more reliable power solution with fewer security risks and reduced logistics costs.
Most efficient hybrid solution
A clean hybrid solution which has proven itself very efficient is the combination of Atlas Copco’s ZBC 250-575 Energy Storage System and a QAS+ 325 generator. A substantial upgrade to the impressive QAS range, which combined a compact footprint with rugged design, 500-hour maintenance intervals and multi-socket connectivity, the QAS+ range offers several additional features that take sustainability to a new level.
These include a long autonomy fuel tank, further reducing refueling costs and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), a dedicated power pack compartment for superior cooling, heating and noise attenuation, and up to six times lower noise levels which can cut operational costs by up to 10%. The QAS+ range offers reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions thanks to a low-noise, highly efficient smart VSD electrical fan that uses less energy, as well as a remote radiator for improved cooling and maintenance.