Learn about complex set-ups and how we develop them

How to approach complex set-ups and the software behind them

At Greener we do more than just renting out batteries. Apart from controlling the battery, we also guard loads on the grid via energy meters, start and stop gensets, curtail solar inverters, or manage any kind of equipment that collectively shape the local energy system. As such, the software running on our batteries serves as a versatile Energy Management System (EMS) for managing the power supply of a wide range of possible setups.

In an earlier blog post we have explored the ins and outs of some of the more widely applied and therefore standardized energy system configurations. However, the potential for innovating with novel configurations is endless, especially in a market for mobile batteries which is booming, and with that the demand for tailor-made solutions with an every increasing complexity. Each custom request poses its own unique challenges, and in this blog post we would like to illustrate some of these challenges and explain how our software has been used to overcome them.

Please keep in mind that many of the aspects mentioned here will be specific to Greener Power Solutions and the Greener Energy Management Software (Greener EMS). Other companies might have a different approach and other classifications of (complex) set-up options.

What qualifies as a complex set-up?

In general, at Greener we offer two options for our Energy Management System (EMS). This EMS is the overall name for the monitoring and management software we have developed at Greener Power Solutions to ensure a smooth process with the maximum comfort and minimize the emissions. This system is based on the data and experience of all projects we have done ever since starting operations in 2018. With this automated approach, we can ensure that you have the least amount of operational work and can always monitor your energy consumption.

The Standard EMS

In our Standard EMS we include all the standard set-up options we regularly apply at projects. This includes set-up options, such as peak shaving and cycling to stand-alone or load-sharing. In case you are interested in these set-up options, read our blog post about this topic here. These set-up options normally include one battery and one other machine, such as a diesel generator. While the load-share set-up is an exemption of this rule with one diesel generator, as well as one grid connection connected to the battery, this set-up has been thoroughly tested and therefore became a part of the standard options we offer.

The Advanced EMS

All set-up options, which are not yet included in the Standard EMS are part of the Advanced EMS. These options can be including multiple batteries, multiple diesel generators, as well as a combination of diesel generators, batteries, solar panels, and grid connections. We have also experience with kite power and power generated by wind turbines. In case you find another energy source to connect to a mobile battery, we are glad to pick up the challenge.

What are the challenges of complex set-ups?

When multiple machines are included in a set-up, there are three big challenges the software team faces:

  1. IT vs. OT: In information technology, there are most often standard protocols to ensure that all components used in technology can communicate and work together smoothly. In contrast, operational technology is developed specifically for industrial purposes and therefore include specific software developed for these goals. With all the different machines having their own system, their own protocols and own way of working, it can be a challenge to integrate different kinds of machines in one set-up.
  2. Communication between the battery and the machines: When the battery communicates with one machine, then the software team must take care of the code regarding the communication between the battery and this single machine. With every machine added, the software program in the battery needs to be adjusted to communicate with the other machines as well. And while the technical specifications and software instructions of the machines can help with developing the software for a specific project, this is not a fool-proof way to ensure that the concept works 100% of the time.
  3. Communication between the machines: Even when the battery can communicate with all connected machines just fine, there could still be another issue. The machines often also must communicate with each other. Therefore, the software needs to be adjusted and in-depth research is necessary before a project can go live.

With all these challenges, our software team has a lot of work on their plate when new projects with complex set-ups come up.

The process of developing a complex set-up

 When a client asks for a complex set-up or the analysis of the situation results in a complex set-up, a four-step plan is followed to ensure smooth sailing once the project starts officially. Our software team is closely working together with you at all stages of the development of the software to adjust the software quickly when necessary.

  1. The initial analysis: For every project we have a first meeting to gather all information about the situation on location, the machines that will be included and your wishes regarding the set-up. This is our guideline for the concept of the set-up and the further approach. Most of the time, our operational team will start off with the first contact since they need to know the set-up area and surrounding energy sources or obstacles for the actual delivery and set-up of the mobile battery or batteries.
  2. The theoretical concept: With all the information gathered, the software team will start off with basic coding. They ensure that the code written is multi-purpose and can easily be adjusted.
  3. Testing on location: The third and most important step of the process is testing the software on location with the machines for the final set-up. Only when all the machines can be tested together with the battery, then the software can be adjusted to be accurate. It is important to have the time and space to do extensive tests, as well as the cooperation of the team on location. Our software developers will further work on the code and adjust according to the results of the tests. This means that there are risks involved and that our developers always have a plan B in case the testing does not go as planned.
  4. The final project: After rigorous testing and adjusting the software to ensure smooth communication between machines, it is time for the actual project to run. Whether this is the power supply for a festival, a construction site, for shore power, at a car launch event with EV chargers or as a grid reinforcement for a supermarket, the options are endless. During the execution of the project, our EMS will be available 24/7 to monitor energy consumption and the performance of the software.

With these four steps, we can develop tailor-made software for your project no matter the set-up. Whether you are wanting to add diesel generators, grid connections or solar panels to your set-up, our software developers have extensive knowledge and data on different gensets and (solar) converters.

Examples of complex set-ups

 Example 1: Setup with two batteries in series

This is a setup whereby two batteries are placed in series. The input of the first battery can be connected to a grid, genset, or no energy source at all. Sometimes an additional genset is placed in between both batteries, like in this example. An ethernet cable allows for a data connection between both batteries. The aim of this setup is to let both batteries charge and discharge at a similar rate, thereby mimicking a battery with double the capacity. This is achieved by letting the second battery leveling its state of charge with that of the first battery by continuously controlling the amount of power it takes from the first battery based on the state of charge and charging rate data both batteries exchange.

Complex set-up with two batteries in series

Example 2: Setup with genset redundancy

In the following example, the battery alternates between both gensets on the input when cycling, hereby halving running time of either genset, and thus reducing the risk of failure due to overdue maintenance. In addition, if one of both gensets on the input fails, the EMS will try to start the other genset. If also the other genset fails, the battery will transfer the load to the backup genset on the output. Hence, the multiple layers of redundancy of this setup allow for a high reliability in power delivery.

Complex set-up with genset redundancy

Example 3: Set-up with multiple gensets and solar inverters

This is a set-up where we power the venue through solar power and a single cycling genset on the input of the battery. In case of high demand or genset failure, the two gensets on the output will take over the load. The gensets are started via a starter relay, but we are also directly connected to the modbus servers of both gensets and solar inverters through the router of one of the gensets. This allows us to monitor the energy production of each individual asset and to curtail the solar inverters in times of low demand. This setup demonstrates the versatility of the EMS, whereby it has the responsibility of controlling the power management of six different assets.

Complex set-up with multiple gensets and solar inverters

Many more software possibilities to explore

As every situation for every client is different and technology, as well as our software, is evolving, we will with no doubt come up with more and complexer set-ups in the future. With the examples shown in this blog post, you can see how many possibilities there are and that the sky is the limit when it comes to combining mobile batteries and energy sources.