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Challenges for BESS Communication: Climate Extremes, Real-time Responses, and Cybersecurity

The most talked about technology in the energy industry right now is large battery energy storage systems (BESSs). This technology is not just only about energy storage — it balances the supply and demand between renewable energy sources, power grids, and user needs. Therefore, a reliable communication system is very important for these three aspects to work well together.

The challenge of extreme climate conditions

Extreme weather events are happening more frequently now than they did in the past, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Heatwaves, particularly, are 2.8 times more likely to occur than in the previous decade. Such conditions not only put immense pressure on human life and agriculture but also on electronic communication products. Dramatic temperature fluctuations, sandstorms, and lightning strikes may cause communication equipment malfunctions, subsequently affecting the operation of BESS. Since these storage systems are often in remote areas, selecting highly durable, industrial-grade communication equipment that can withstand extreme environments is crucial.

The demand for real-time responses

As power grids become more advanced and require stricter management requirements, the quick charging and discharging characteristics of large battery energy storage devices are essential in balancing the grid. Take the UK's national grid, for example, where the requirement for power auxiliary response time has been reduced from an initial 10 seconds to just 500 milliseconds[1]. Some countries even hope that the newest storage batteries can achieve response times at the 100-millisecond level. This implies that future communication systems must have faster data transfer speeds, higher network bandwidth, and more reliable network redundancy designs to meet these demands.

Recent network security issues are a big concern

Cyberattacks on energy and power systems are increasing, and people are starting to pay more attention to data security. Many countries now regard the power grid system as national-level critical infrastructure, setting even higher cybersecurity standards. NERC's "Security Integration Strategy" and EU's "Network and Information Security Directive 2.0" are two examples of heightened security strategies. Thus, future BESS communication designs must enhance cybersecurity to counter the increasingly severe online threats.

To sum up, energy transition progress notwithstanding, BESSs face increasing challenges. In this intricate journey, a stable communication system is key. It must address extreme climate challenges, meet strict power auxiliary system demands, and enhance cybersecurity. Experiences tell us that the selection and design of communication systems should consider a variety of factors to ensure stable operations. Moving forward, BESS providers must continuously monitor these crucial areas, consistently optimizing the performance and reliability of their communication systems. To achieve sustainable energy solutions, large battery storage systems require effective design and implementation.

[1] “Energy storage-friendly frequency response service markets: The UK perspective”, Energy Storage Science and Technology, 2022