On November 12, 2015, NAATBatt International will hold its next Members Site Visit meeting at Battery Innovation Center (BIC) in Newberry, Indiana.  A few people asked me when I initially told them about the meeting whether I really expected anyone to travel to a remote area of Southern Indiana to see a battery testing laboratory.  Well, having opened registration for the program only last week, and having received registration for almost half the capacity of the meeting, with six weeks to go, any skeptics have been well silenced.

Of course, what the NAATBatt members who have signed up for the meeting know, that, perhaps, some of the initial skeptics did not, is that there is a lot of very interesting stuff going on at BIC that should be of great interest to anyone working with electricity storage on the grid.  BIC’s relationship with nearby NSA Crane Naval Base, which will be featured in the November 12 tour, promises to open to private industry some of the very sophisticated facilities that the U.S. military has used for years to test and validate battery technology.  The destructive testing facilities for batteries at Crane, which probably far surpass in sophistication anything available in the private sector, are of particular interest to some of our members.

But the interesting stuff going on at BIC does not end with NSA Crane.  BIC recently announced a partnership with the MESA Standards Alliance to create the first MESA compatibility and interoperability testing center in the world.  MESA (Modular Energy Storage Architecture) is a non-proprietary set of specifications and standards for energy storage developed by a consortium of electric utilities and technology suppliers.  The members of MESA include Alstrom, LG Chem, Parker Hannifin, Austin Energy, Duke Energy, Lockheed Martin, NEC Energy Solutions, 1Energy Systems, UniEnergy Technologies, SunSpec Alliance and NEMA.  BIC promises to play a central role in the ESS industry if and as the MESA standards are increasingly adopted.

BIC also runs an important program for Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the United States.  Duke has established a microgrid lab at BIC to address the lack of development of algorithms and controls necessary to aggregate distributed energy storage with distributed generation. As utilities and industrial electricity users around the county, and around the world, start looking at incorporating microgrids into their power systems, the data and experience gathered at BIC, and the algorithms and controls developed through the Duke program, will likely play a key role in the development of this technology.

Last but hardly least, there is a growing relationship between BIC and UL LLC, about which attendees at the meeting are likely to hear a good bit more.  The testing and development of safety standards for ESS products is something that you hear a lot about in the industry.  There is a good chance that BIC is going to become central to the development of safety protocols and safety testing for ESS products, both in front and behind the meter.  The visit to BIC will likely answer a lot of questions concerning how safety hazards in ESS systems are likely to be handled—something about which battery and ESS system manufacturers have been left to wonder over the past several months.

NAATBatt International will provide bus transportation to and from the Indianapolis Airport area for those attending the meeting.  The bus, however, only seats 50, and nearly half those seats are already accounted for.  There is no cost for NAATBatt members to attend.  If your employer is a member of NAATBatt International, please sign up soon, as I fully expect that this trip will sell out.  Information about the program, including how to register, can be seen by clicking here.

Not yet a NAATBatt member?  There is still time to join and sign up for the trip.