Skip to main content

Keep the Energy at the right place!

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EnergyKeeper (Keep the Energy at the right place!)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

"EnergyKeeper (""Keep the energy at the right place!"") as research and innovation project was initiated to respond to the challenges of European energy policies towards low-carbon economy and energy transition. In this context, the European Union intends to be a leading global player in promotion of renewable energy integration and development of respective innovative technologies. The European consumers need to be provided with clean energy. Energy transition aims at smart grids, development of European energy markets, increased security of energy supply and consumer empowerment.

The introduction of electrical energy storage (EES) effectively addresses these issues. EES supports the integration of renewable energy to the grids with limited capacities to adopt new generated energy and helps consumers to use more self-generated energy and engage to energy trading. It helps grid operators to balance the production and consumption of renewable electricity (RES-E) in a power system. On the other hand, the current electricity storage technologies are based on non-organic, scarce or heavy-metals-containing components that, in their nature, are not sustainable.

To pursue the aforementioned benefits, the project was based on the following idea: the surplus of self-generated electricity as well as cheap off-peak electricity from the grid can be stored in an innovative sustainable battery. This battery brings commercial benefits to the community and, in addition, can be used as a flexibility tool for automatic distribution grid control with several smart grid attributes.

The overall aim of the project was to design, develop and test a novel, scalable, sustainable and cost competitive flow battery based on organic, metal-free redox active materials. A 30 kW redox flow battery (RFB) with a capacity of 100 kWh was to be constructed and equipped with an interoperable battery management system (BMS) enabling the plug and play integration into a smart grid. This interoperability was to be demonstrated in a real smart grid, equipped with adequate grid control and monitoring infrastructure. It should ensure an optimal interplay of local grid controller and BMS, providing the grid stabilization effect and enabling the community’s business models through the optimal charging and discharging processes.

In summary, the project succeeded to achieve the pre-set ambitious scientific and technical objectives in the broad range of technologies. It showcased the world's first installation of an organic metal-free RFB in a real smart grid environment."
The partners advanced the technology of metal-free, organic RFB from laboratory to prototype scale. A 30 kW RFB with a capacity of 100 kWh was designed, constructed and demonstrated in real-life environment (Fig.1). For the design purposes, the partners developed two computational models of redox flow battery cells. The Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models showed that the flow is uniform over almost the whole length of the studied electrodes and that the flow split in different cells is relatively uniform. The good flow distribution in the stack was maintained over a range of different flow rates and fluid properties.

The scope of work covered the preparation of functional specifications, their transfer to mechanical and electrical designs, manufacture of battery components, shipment to ACRRES test site (Lelystad, Netherlands) and assembling of battery components.

The battery was based on two 20 ft. intermodal shipping containers, one carrying the electrolyte reservoirs and the other carrying the power electronics and stacks (Fig.3 Fig.6). A failsafe BMS was developed and implemented in the battery. The interface to the communication architecture and a smart grid control system (SGCS) were designed and implemented (Fig.4). All system functionalities were established and the battery was used to test business model algorithms.

In ACRRES test site, the smart grid testing facilities (Fig.2) which include three sources of renewable energy (wind turbines, solar PVs and biogas plant) and several consumers with simulated consumption of 210 households), worked with the connected RFB under the control of original SGCS. The validation of SGCS was carried out in on-grid mode.

The Project team also took an opportunity to develop a new generation of monitoring devices and test them at ACRRES test site (Fig.7 Fig.8). The experience enabled to better understand the integration of the analyzers within the smart grid control system.

A set of EnergyKeeper’s recommendations was elaborated for supporting and amending the EU energy policies related to deployment of EES. It is expected to reinforce the European low carbon economy targets and European energy policies.

Throughout the project timeframe, the EnergyKeeper’s dissemination manager coordinated the communication and dissemination activities safeguarding that public results were shared and general public, companies and policymakers have been informed on the progress of the project. Market launch of metal-free flow batteries, innovative metering devices and smart grid control software is planned for the near future.
The developed RFB technology was raised from TRL3-4 to TRL7 while the smart grid monitoring and control technology was advanced – from TRL3 to TRL7. The developed RFB is on a threshold to commercialization and is likely to enter the market in next two years.

EnergyKeeper batteries are an attractive option for communities, individual prosumers, SMEs and other potential users while contributing to energy transition.

In the near future, the EnergyKeeper’s battery will be up-scaled and improved in terms of design, robustness and cost-effectiveness. New organic electrolytes will be further developed towards a new generation of innovative organic electrolytes.

The project team assumes the following potential impacts of project results:

Impact on European industries: The demonstrated operation of metal-free RFB and its interoperability in a smart grid paves the way to industrialization of the technology which has the potential to become the European answer to lithium (and cobalt) based batteries from Asia as all battery components can be made in Europe. This will have a strong positive impact on all industries along the whole value chain of manufacturing and electricity production.

Impact on European research: The developed RFB is likely to move the stationary battery research to a new level, because of its fundamentally advantageous technology.

Impact on European ambition in renewable energy: Larger amounts of renewables could be integrated into the grids in a stable and secure way by deployment of EnergyKeeper’s batteries.

Impact on consumer empowerment: When used as collective storage units, RFBs will incentivize the establishment of renewable energy communities and extension of their self-consumption. The communities will gradually undertake new energy business models (Fig.5).

Impact on markets: Through aggregation of their loads (including battery charging) and generation (including battery discharging), the communities will expand the wholesale, retail, balancing and ancillary services markets, including cross-border ones, and peer-to-peer trading.

Impact on grid stabilization and smart operation: RFBs connected to low and medium voltage grids will increase the flexibility and controllability of the smart grids as well as storage capacity.
View of cabinet containing battery's power electronics unit
Wind turbines generating power for charging of EnergyKeeper redox flow battery
Cabinet of control equipment at each wind turbine
Picture from dashboard of HMI (Human Machine Interface) indicating test scenario ACRRES-11 hourly
Prototype of redox flow battery in two containers manufactured by Jena Batteries
Graphical abstract of business model for communities with flexible loads, storage and generation
General view of EnergyKeepers smart grid with major smart grid facilities in ACRRES test site (NL)
View of metering section: cabinets containing Energy Team SpA monitoring system