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Our second life story: Combatting the challenges of battery storage

We introduce the individual stories of our team across Connected Energy and how various departments come together all inspired by the theme of second life.

26/09/2023

In 2013 battery energy storage systems (BESS) were a relatively new technology, but were drawing attention in energy circles, including the team working on EV charging infrastructure in the east of England with Lotus Engineering as part of an energy storage demonstrator project, EVEREST.

This project soon became the foundation of Connected Energy’s very existence – the capability to produce safe, reliable, and robust BESS that would tackle the ever-increasing demands on the energy network, whilst also providing sustainable alternative solutions to renewable energy use and storage.

At the heart of that project were Roger Tudor and Paul Bristow, software engineers who remain two of our longest-serving team members and are still empowered to produce innovative solutions to ensure the longevity, safety, and security of BESS for our end-users.

Looking back to the early days of that first project, we used multiple types of batteries and our role was to develop a control system that would communicate with them separately whilst ultimately treating them as a single asset through a central controller, giving us a wealth of experience and creating what really was the first prototype of our product today.

Roger Tudor, Software Engineer, Connected Energy

Looking back

Back then, the Hethel-based duo had no instruction manual, as it were, and it was very much a problem-solving approach to producing what is at the heart of the technology used by Connected Energy today.

Roger says: “Second life batteries were something that energised me, having spent many years in the automotive industry I recognised the value of extending the life of high-value components, and transferring my skills to find solutions to new technical challenges excited me.

“The fact we help to store renewable energy which improves the environmental impact on the world around us was a sizeable bonus too.

Paul adds: “Joining Connected Energy and championing the core values of the circular economy aligned with my own values.

“I think it’s something to be proud of that I can say from that first project we worked on together we have continually and successfully contributed to developing innovative sustainable energy practices.”

Major milestones

The pair can look back on several key achievements in developing the company’s safety and control system infrastructure, including continual developments in monitoring and remote diagnostics to ensure safety is at the heart of Connected Energy’s system.

Those achievements include generating the first 1MW of power from a system in a 2018 project with Engie at the Umicore site in Belgium.

Roger says: “There was so much riding on that project – to show that we could integrate eight independent stacks of batteries together and generate that amount of power. I feel it was a major milestone for the company.”

Another highlight for Paul is the development of reducing the system’s response times: “We managed to drop our response time from 2sec to 250msec, which is a key milestone in our product development, proving we are constantly looking to improve our software and end-product.”

Today the future is still just as bright for Roger & Paul in their roles, with excitement building around the continual daily challenges, with them ready to spring into action should the robust control system they’ve developed since its inception flag an issue.

We have several different systems working remotely across our different networks and we have to react so your day can be unpredictable, but that has always been part of the excitement for us.

Paul Bristow, Software Engineer, Connected Energy

Scaling up

As the company works towards developing its next-generation 1MW systems and expanding its product offering further, managing, and scaling up the control systems that are housed within these BESS is an integral part of Roger and Paul’s duties, and one they take great pride in.

Roger says: “As with everything, with growth comes opportunities and challenges, the larger the systems, naturally the complexity increases, which is why we have a heightened focus on risk mitigation and availability for fast and efficient response times.

“Our control system will continue to be a pivotal tool in allowing us to offer a continually robust and secure solution to renewable energy.”

Moving forward

Connected Energy is a world leader in battery energy storage. Our commercial systems are being used by businesses to store energy – either from renewable sources or directly from the grid. By repurposing electric vehicle batteries, we have created a solution that solves many of the power challenges businesses are facing.

Find out more about second-life battery energy storage. If you wish to get in touch to find out how we can support you in your sustainability drive, please contact our team here.

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