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Energy storage O&M market needs ‘higher levels of diligence’, RES says

A RES Group utility-scale battery project in the US. Image: RES Group.

Both energy storage asset owners and companies setting up to provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services for battery installations need to commit to higher levels of due diligence when selecting contractors according to RES Group’s head of solar and O&M.

Speaking during last week’s Solar Business Conference at Solar & Storage Live in Birmingham, England, Brian Darnell explained that with the UK’s energy storage market still in its infancy, the lack of established expertise in maintaining these projects is an issue that will need to be addressed soon.

“Storage O&M is much more complicated than solar, which means a new area of expertise is needed. The UK industry, while in its infancy, needs more and so this skills risk needs to be managed,” Darnell said.

“Anyone setting up as an O&M provider for storage needs to know where they can get trained individuals, and overall a higher level of due diligence is needed when selecting these contractors.”

He added that where the industry is lacking the approved standards for O&M that have been developed for solar, it’s up to companies like RES and others to provide the correct training.

“For such a bespoke system, it needs to be the designer of that system that carries out the training,” Darnell added.

In an article published earlier this year in Solar Media's downstream technology journal for the PV industry, PV Tech Power, several commentators said the crux of successful O&M in energy storage lies mostly in extracting maximum economic value from a battery against the limits of what the system can achieve in terms of charge and discharge cycles before degradation of the battery affects its performance and operational lifetime.

Additionally, with grid-scale and aggregated systems, system owners and operators will want to utilise different economic strategies for accessing multiple revenue streams if possible, and prioritising some over others, again dictating what the battery does and when.  

“The strategy [of operating battery energy storage systems commercially] is very different to solar – because solar’s just on one strategy: export when you can and get as much subsidies as you can, or if it’s a subsidy-free you’re still looking for a contract with an off-taker to take everything at a certain price," David Hill of Open Energi, a UK company performing aggregated demand response using energy storage, said. 

"Whereas the economics of a battery mean you’re trying to operate within as many different types of market as possible to recover the capital invested."

You can download the feature article 'O&M in storage: optimisation and maintenance', including discussion and insights from the likes of Younicos, Open Energi, Stem and UK Power Networks, from PV Tech Power Vol.11, free of charge, here.