Focus & Recent Advancements

Southern Research has built the capability to test energy storage systems in front-of-the-meter (FTM) and behind-the-meter (BTM) scenarios at the new Energy Storage Research Center (ESRC) in Birmingham, AL. SR provides state-of-the-art third-party testing at the system level, as well as the economic assessment of different energy storage technologies for the electric power industry. ESRC’s mission is to deliver testing and advisory services that enable energy storage solution optimization and risk mitigation. We proudly serve research organizations, systems integrators, device vendors and users/operators of energy storage systems.

SR’s energy storage test center has cloud-based controls and data storage. It can be operated securely and safely from anywhere in the world. This unique ability sets SR apart from any other battery test center. It also enables big data processing for economic analysis and risk mitigation.

The ESRC team currently studies the performance a grid-tied vanadium flow battery ESS as well as the technical and economic benefits of a lithium ion battery ESS derived from used EV battery packs.

With increasingly dynamic and distributed generation resources, the utility landscape in the Southeastern United States will evolve in the next decade. Battery energy storage will balance the demand and supply mix and make the grid more resilient. The ESRC supports the transition away from fossil fuel power generation with the identification of high-value use cases for storage, the validation of storage technologies and its expertise in system performance and economic valuation strategies for the power industry.

Capabilities and Expertise

The ESRC in Birmingham has a FTM test lab with currently two test pads connected to a dedicated 13.2 kVA feeder. Expansion to up to five pads is possible. The FTM test lab allows the evaluation of grid-tied energy storage system performance. AC power on both sides of the transformer is metered independently to enable the study of interaction between the ESS and the grid. The cloud-based system controls include a grid emulator and a service stacking feature. Large-scale data analysis of long-term performance enables business-case analysis, warranty claims validation as well as durability and failure mechanisms studies.

The BTM test lab allows the evaluation of customer-side distributed resources via battery cyclers and load banks. The BTM test lab can be combined with Level 2 EV chargers that allow the assessment of charge assist in fast charging applications.

ESRC offers a full stack of testing and advisory services to the power industry and to commercial customers. With deep expertise in battery technology, ESS performance, simulation and economic analysis/de-risking, the ESRC can provide total evaluation of the economic potential of energy storage systems for utility areas in the Southeastern United States and beyond.

The energy storage team is well connected to the power industry. The ESRC has hosted widely recognized symposia in 2017 and in 2019 with industry experts, regulatory decision makers and government authorities.

BESS Testing and Comissioning Services

The Energy Storage Research Center at Southern Research was established with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity, the Electric Power Research Institute, Southern Company, and the State of Alabama.