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Two companies have begun marketing pushes for AI-based battery management technology

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Peter Key's picture
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I've been a business journalist since 1985 when I received an MBA from Penn State. I covered energy, technology, and venture capital for The Philadelphia Business Journal from 1998 through 2013....

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  • Dec 9, 2020

One of many challenges of decarbonizing the grid is finding a way to use renewable rather than fossil-fuel powered generation to meet peak loads.

Batteries can help. Big ones can store energy from wind and solar farms when it’s generated and provide it to the grid when it’s needed. And smaller ones linked to residential solar units or in electric vehicles can be aggregated to serve the same functions as their much larger counterparts.

For batteries to effectively do those things on the scale required to achieve significant decarbonization, however, they must be very precisely managed. And two companies headquartered on the West Coast of North American say they have technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make that type of management possible: Santa Clara, Calif.-based Veritone Inc. and Vancouver, B.C.-based Extreme Vehicle Battery Technologies Corp., which calls itself EV Battery Tech. 

Veritone had been marketing an operating system for artificial intelligence called aiWARE to two sectors: media and entertainment; and government, legal and compliance. In early October, it announced it was entering the energy sector with Veritone Energy Solutions, a suite of predictive AI software meant to help utilities and others in the electric power industry boost their bottom lines and improve grid reliability as they transition to renewable generation. The suite includes Marginal Power Arbitrage, which buys, sells and dispatches energy; Forecaster, which detects and predicts energy supply, demand and price; Optimizer, which makes AI-based energy supply determinations; and Controller, which predictively controls and actively synchronizes devices so it can combine energy sources to optimally satisfy demand.

Last month, Veritone announced it had received three new patents for its battery control technology, giving it 13 issued and 16 pending patents on Veritone Energy Solutions. The patents cover technology that enables the dynamic, real-time, adaptive synchronization and control of batteries needed to make renewable energy a more reliable and responsive part of the nation’s power grid.

Veritone is testing its battery synchronization and control technology at a solar-plus-storage facility run by a Florida utility it can’t publicly name. Among other things, the technology continuously ascertains a battery’s condition so it can take that into account when determining whether the battery should be charging or discharging and the extent and rate at which the battery should be doing those things to accomplish the goals its operator wants it to accomplish. By ascertaining batteries’ conditions and accordingly adjusting how it controls them, the technology enables the batteries’ owners to optimize their operation and extend their lives, which can enable the owners to produce more revenue from and spend less on the batteries. 

Veritone’s technology also continuously monitors inverters so they can be operated optimally and kept in use for as long as possible.

In addition to monitoring the equipment in solar farms, Veritone’s technology takes into account a host of other variables, including present weather conditions and short- and long-term weather forecasts; the amount of sunlight the arrays in the farms receive according to time of year; grid conditions and forecasts; and the prices for and cost of supplying power and grid services, so the farms can automatically buy and sell power and provide grid services if they’re located in an area with a power market.

Veritone’s AI and battery control technologies, meanwhile, can be used to aggregate and synchronize distributed energy resources of all sizes, regardless of whether they’re located in neighboring solar farms, on the same microgrid or on residential rooftops spread over a large area. That plus their energy-trading capability means they could be used to aggregate and control residential solar generation and storage, as well as electric vehicle chargers with vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-building capabilities, and use the aggregation to buy and sell power and provide grid services.

The range of possible uses for Veritone’s AI technology is extremely broad. For example, it can be used to produce cost-benefit analysis of potential solar farm sites based not just on the amount of sunlight the sites typically receive but on the effect that that amount of sunlight and the seasonal variations in it would have on the solar panels and batteries on the sites. It also can be used to make similar analysis of potential wind farm sites, both on land and offshore, something that Sean McEvoy, Veritone’s senior vice president of business development, told me in a Zoom call that his company is doing for the Florida utility that is testing Veritone’s technology at its solar farm.

EV Battery Tech said in late October that it had signed an agreement to market a battery management system (BMS) that uses AI to enable batteries to be managed remotely and in ways that extend their lives. The system was developed in China by Jiangsu RichPower New Energy Co. Ltd., which will continue marketing it in Asia. EV Battery Tech will market it in North and South America, Europe and Africa.

EV Battery Tech CEO Bryson Goodwin told Streetwise Reports late last month that RichPower’s BMS "learns and evolves with user behaviors resulting in a significant increase in power saving and efficiency. Its AI algorithms can specifically predict future failures and provide more stable operations and remote maintenance on battery systems."

Goodwin said his company initially plans to target two markets with RichPower’s BMS: EVs and energy storage systems (ESSs), particularly ones in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

“We can put in battery systems that power the building[s] during peak times and [charge] during the less expensive off-peak times,” he said. “In addition to [providing] cost savings, dynamic peak shaving lessens the demands on the grid and puts less pressure on the power system."

EV Battery Tech has signed an agreement to provide its EV charging and ESS technologies to Squamish EcoVille Ltd. for a carbon-neutral community that the company is building in Squamish, B.C.

It also has signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture with Hillcrest Petroleum Ltd. to develop and commercialize scalable, smart renewable energy management systems for the EV and ESS markets.

Additionally, the company has launched what it calls a battery revival program under which it will use its AI technology to analyze used batteries and determine whether to refurbish or reuse them.


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