As global demand expands for reliable energy storage and battery technologies to pair with solar, Renewable Energy Test Center and VDE Renewables are partnering to provide a new level of performance and reliability testing for the North American market. The new collaboration to deliver dependable bankability testing will help developers, end-customers, and financial institutions determine the levels of performance and reliability they can expect from battery technologies and energy storage systems (ESS) they will install in their projects.

While more than two-dozen safety protocols for batteries and ESS have been developed and are in use today, no such protocols have been developed and standardized for battery and ESS performance and reliability. Renewable Energy Test Center (RETC) and VDE Renewables are working to change this.

“With VDE Renewables, we look forward to providing much-needed battery and ESS bankability protocols and testing services that will help standardize and improve the performance of energy storage systems for the solar and energy markets, by helping institutions select the best technologies for their projects,” said Cherif Kedir, CEO of RETC. “With these new services, we intend to break down the same barriers to entry — such as challenges around bankability and insurability — for batteries that solar energy experienced in its market growth, and demonstrate in concrete terms where a project’s risks and benefits lie, depending on the technology selected.”

RETC has developed performance and reliability standards for solar modules and other equipment during a decade of providing independent testing to help developers and financiers determine bankability and help manufacturers improve their products. VDE Renewables, a unit of Germany-based VDE Group, which includes the testing and certification provider VDE Institute, has deep experience in battery and energy storage testing and certification. Together, RETC and VDE Renewables offer solutions that address quality criteria for battery and ESS system design, installation, and management, along with inspection services to evaluate physical systems from installation onward.

“To enable the safe and sustainable growth of the energy storage sector, we will leverage our established experience and expertise in bankability certification going beyond existing standards in the PV sector, which has helped developers achieve high-quality projects,” said Burkhard Holder, Managing Director of VDE Renewables. “These bankability services also meet the risk mitigation needs of financiers and insurers, who are key stakeholders in storage projects. We are most pleased to expand our longstanding partnership with a market leader like RETC to serve the energy storage industry.”

When a product or project is able to demonstrate, ideally through a reliable and neutral third party, that it can perform as well as the manufacturer’s specifications, it is often referred to as being “bankable.” RETC and VDE Renewables aim to address bankability concerns by providing the energy industry with advanced performance and reliability testing protocols and methodologies for batteries and energy storage systems that the industry lacked until now.

Testing will focus on:

Safety: The primary risk for lithium-ion batteries are failures that can lead to explosions and/or fires. Existing safety protocols, such as the VDE-AR-E 2510-50 are available — and required — for battery sales and system deployments.

Performance: Ensuring battery systems will charge and discharge quickly and predictably and are optimized for their specific use case is important. For example, battery projects that provide additional power, when needed, to high-voltage transmission lines are used differently than battery systems connected to lower-voltage distribution grids, such as systems that are connected to a solar array, to store power generated during the day and discharge the power in the evening.

Reliability: The biggest threat to reliability is the rate at which a battery ESS degrades over time, and how long the system is likely to perform at a high level before the battery wears down and must be replaced. Testing can predict aging and degradation at a wide range of battery charge and discharge rates, state of charge or depth of discharge levels, and exposure to environmental conditions such as hot and cold weather.

Quality: As more manufacturers introduce new batteries, testing for quality assurance is critical. Quality assurance risks are present at the cell level, in system design, at the component level, at the installation site and in operation and maintenance.

RETC’s and VDE’s battery and ESS testing methodologies help establish a dependable understanding of a project’s return on investment and levelized cost of energy and storage. The companies’ tests, methodologies and models can be used for standalone storage, solar plus storage and other clean energy products, such as batteries for electric vehicles.