Large-scale battery maker taps Siemens for end-to-end solutions and expertise to save huge costs and critical time-to-market.
The challenge was to develop a comprehensive and highly scalable automated control system for multi-megawatt energy storage using minimum engineering time and cost to ensure fastest time-to-market.
As the smart grid quickly evolves into a distribution infrastructure for AC electricity with ever more sensory, interactive and transactional capabilities, a 150-year-old DC technology has re-emerged on the scene. It’s the wet-cell battery, but now with extremely advanced chemistry and designed, engineered and built to deliver multi-megawatt capacities and with plenty of smarts inside.
One of the world’s top suppliers of such energy-storage solutions is a small but growing company founded in 2012 called UniEnergy Technologies (UET). From its headquarters and manufacturing facility near Seattle, it makes and sells the Uni.System™. This is a highly scalable, next-generation energy-storage solution for utility, commercial and industrial, micro grid and other applications housed in standard 20-foot shipping containers.
Their modular architecture enables UET’s customers to add as much capacity as they need with plug-and-play simplicity similar to adding data storage to today’s computer systems.
As a buffer between bulk energy generation and sustained energy use, the Uni.System can provide near-instant energy for different durations.
According to UET’s Director of Electrical Engineering David Ridley, the company faced numerous challenges in bringing the Uni.System to life. “We needed to create a control architecture that’s scalable and extensible just like our product,” Ridley explains. “That way, if customers want to add another megawatt of capacity, no problem. Our controls needed to scale easily, so that once we deliver another container and hook it up, we could just increment the counter in our software by one megawatt and the customer is up and running.” Simplicity and reliability were important too, for both customers and UET.
Among the Uni.System’s other design goals were low manufacturing costs and physical modularity. Ridley says that’s why the company chose the 20-foot shipping containers.
“They’re available as pre-built commodities, saving materials sourcing and fabrication costs,” Ridley says. “They’re also stackable and easy to transport via multimodal logistics, weather by truck, rail or ship.”