The energy transition as a driver of intelligent storage systems

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IoT Use Case Inovex und REFUstor
5 minutes Reading time
5 minutes Reading time

The energy transition is not a project of the future, because it is already in full swing. Sun, wind and water are among the most important sources of electricity and the share of green electricity in total energy consumption continues to grow. This is due in part to the Renewable Energy Sources Act and the increasingly stringent ESG criteria that internationally operating companies are applying to the selection of their suppliers and business partners.

Digitalization also plays a central role in the energy market. It requires different methods, technologies and ways of thinking than the traditional world. Companies must take action if they want to continue to be successful.

The challenge: A comprehensive digital ecosystem

However, the rapid increase in renewable energies also creates new challenges, because sun and wind are not always consistently available. Due to the fluctuation of these energy sources, solutions are needed that can store the green electricity and feed it back into the power grid with a time delay when needed.

But it is not only the energy transition itself that is driving digitalization and the development of intelligent electricity storage systems, but also the sharp rise in e-mobility and professio-nal applications in trade and industry. Innovative software, hardware and cloud solutions for professional energy management are among the focal points of a development that is designed to optimize energy requirements and dramatically reduce energy costs. In addition, completely new business models and ecosystems are emerging.

REFU, as part of the Prettl Group, is one of the pioneers and technology leaders in photovol-taics and PV inverters and has been setting standards for years. In order to optimally occupy and extend this role, REFU Storage Systems GmbH (REFUstor) was founded specifically to focus on this new market segment.

REFUstor is pursuing a comprehensive digital strategy in order to participate in the aforementioned development of the energy market and to actively shape it. The focus is on the development of innovative power electronics as well as software, hardware and cloud solutions for professional energy management.

The solution: A container full of electricity

As is so often the case, the best solutions often emerge from practical requirements. This was also the case here: The idea for a digital energy platform had been born a long time ago, and work on it was also actively underway, but the following concrete use case acted as a catalyst.

As part of the GoZero initiative launched in 2020, the Prettl Group, and thus also REFUstor, is striving to achieve CO2-neutral production at all production sites within the next few years. The conversion of the entire company fleet to fully electric vehicles was selected as a pilot project. The challenge here lies in providing the necessary charging infrastructure.

In close cooperation with inovex GmbH from Karlsruhe, an energy management system (EMS) was therefore developed as part of a pilot project and put into operation at the REFU headquarters in Pfullingen. inovex is an innovation and quality-driven IT project house with a focus on “digital transformation”. 500 IT experts comprehensively support the company in the digitalization and agilization of its core business and in the realization of new digital use cases and are involved in projects throughout Germany.

From the goal of developing a comprehensive digital ecosystem that combines all the re-quirements for energy management of the future on a central platform, the idea of the “EV Boost Box” was born, an intelligent and powerful battery storage system that provides addi-tional electricity during peak demand. Of course, it can also store clean, green energy from existing photovoltaic systems, which increases charging power and further reduces the cost of electromobility.

An EV Boost Box consists of a battery storage unit, a special inverter, and the associated energy management system, all housed in a container.

In the case of the pilot project, the batteries have a storage capacity of 130 kWh and feature an integrated battery management system. The bidirectional high-power battery inverter from REFUstor is optimally adapted to this special application. The charging of the battery storage is supported by a PV tracker, which is connected to the overall system via a PV inverter – also from REFU. All components are housed in a 20-foot-long overseas container. As “consumers” of the stored energy, 2 charging columns with 4 charging points and 22 kW AC maximum charging power each were installed and connected to the EV-Boost Box.

The result: Green charging power from the overseas container

Technological developments around Industry 4.0, Smart Home or Smart City as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) have triggered a massive digitalization push in recent years – this effect has now also reached the energy market.

With the development of its energy management system, REFUstor, supported by inovex, has laid the foundation for the implementation of its vision of enterprise energy management.

When it comes to challenges such as peak load capping, charging station management, self-consumption optimization, system monitoring and evaluations, REFUstor has the right solution.

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