Reliable, Scalable and Safe Battery Energy Storage: Enabling the Future

Ann Nguyen:
Hello, I'm Ann Nguyen, Associate Conference Producer with the Knowledge Foundation, here for another podcast for the Lithium Battery Power and Battery Safety conferences running this November 17-19 in Baltimore, Maryland. Today we're chatting with Mr. Greg Tremelling, Senior Manager of Electrical Engineering at NEC Energy Solutions.

Hi Greg, welcome and thanks for your time today.

Greg Tremelling:
My pleasure.

Ann Nguyen:
You've worked on Smart Grid applications in the energy storage arena across multiple roles at and beyond NEC. What got you interested in that area, and why that focus at the company?

Greg Tremelling:
Originally I was hired at A123 as the seventh person in their Pack and Systems Group, so at the time it was an opportunity for me to join a startup and take on a leadership role within the company. Then as the company evolved and grew my interest level in the high-power systems grew with it. The company expanded into the multi-megawatt arena very early on, and we have installed our first grid-scale systems in 2008. The company focus on energy storage is related to really enabling the future. It's about enabling deep penetration of renewable energy, and adding the dimension of time into our power grid, which today suffers from real-time supply-and-demand limitations.

Ann Nguyen:
When engineering high-voltage battery management systems, what kind of compromises do you have to make to balance energy, power and safety? Do you foresee ever optimizing all such variables?

Greg Tremelling:
I think the best way to answer the question is to split that up into two segments. The first is that we have a focus on safety and quality, and those parameters are never compromised. We go to great lengths to make sure of that. Once that has been satisfied then there is a balance between cost and feature set. That's the biggest tradeoff that we see is trying to figure out which features add the most value to customers. The power and energy configuration is satisfied by having a modular approach. We have both high-rate and long-duration systems that are scalable, and we're able to meet the needs of our customers for the majority of energy storage applications we see just by scaling the system size.

Ann Nguyen:
When you talk about “Safety Certification of Large ‘Grid Scale’ Energy Storage Systems” at the Battery Safety conference on November 17, what are the key points you'd like to convey to the engineers, manufacturers and others in the audience?

Greg Tremelling:
I would say that the safety certifications are a must-have with large-scale energy storage systems. Any time you have that much energy sitting in one place, whether it's a battery, or -- other industries have the same challenges -- any time you have a concentration of energy you have to be extremely careful and diligent to make sure that it's safe. The safety certifications are somewhat like a public third-party design review that will drive your product and your business to have a more reliable and scalable product that is safe for people to use.

The safety certifications are not really a one size fits all, because there's a number of ways that they can be achieved. You can certify the software or the firmware. You can choose to certify the hardware. Both would be considered safe and acceptable, but the right choice really depends on the resources within the organization, and the business model.

Ann Nguyen:
That was Greg Tremelling of NEC Energy Solutions. He'll be speaking during Part 1 on Engineering, Testing & Simulation of the Battery Safety conference in Baltimore, taking place November 17-19. To learn more from him, visit www.knowledgefoundation.com/battery-safety for registration info and enter the keycode “Podcast”. I'm Ann Nguyen. Thanks for listening.


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