TimberRock Energy Solutions, the R&D and product development subsidiary of TimberRock Advanced Energy, announced a new energy storage platform called REH-FLEX. Although solar panels, electric vehicles and battery storage are transforming the electrical grid into a bi-directional energy network, the inverters used to move energy in-between these resources and the grid currently lack the power-throughput and functionality to deliver all of their potential benefits.
REH-FLEX addresses this issue and is up to 5 times more powerful than a typical inverter used in residential or small-commercial buildings, providing Broadband for Energy, the company says. REH-FLEX’s power is equally matched to the size of the grid connection to the home or business. Having this “broadband connection” to the electrical grid means REH-FLEX can:
• Power an entire home or business as a microgrid during a grid outage
• Fast charge electric vehicles to quickly replenish their range
• Utilize the entire capacity (kW) of a building’s grid connection to provide energy and grid services leading to a more efficient grid and lower energy costs for all electricity consumers.
REH-FLEX’s capabilities are a function of three engineering achievements
1. REH-FLEX utilizes a new power inverter. “Our vision for delivering unprecedented functionality and energy density was not possible given traditional inverter design,” said TimberRock CTO David Bateman. “This led us to develop a next-generation Gallium-Nitride (GaN) inverter building-block. Even with the significant increase in power, REH-FLEX has an incredibly small footprint.”
2. REH-FLEX is enabled with machine-learning capabilities via a cloud-based Complex Event Processor (CEP) called DE-MAP. DE-MAP can combine data from multiple sources to quickly infer events, identify complicated circumstances and exploit economic dispatch opportunities. The CEP supports aggregation and disaggregation into virtual power plants, computational intelligence and eventual participation in transactive, peer-to-peer energy systems.
3. REH-FLEX incorporates novel switch gear that allows battery storage and generators to be dispatched as a merchant power plant through a wholesale meter while keeping air-gap isolation from the load and retail, customer meter. During a grid failure, the switching technology redirects the generator and storage assets to power the entire building as a microgrid. Sophisticated monitoring and telemetry ensure there is no co-mingling of electrons from the wholesale or retail side of the system.
Initial REH-FLEX deployments are under contract and will begin early in the second quarter of 2017.
“The electrical capacity of the wires that connect a building to the grid are often 3 to 5 times greater than what is needed to power the building’s average load,” said TimberRock CEO Brent Hollenbeck. “This idle capacity is a resource to be leveraged. REH-FLEX uses every bit of this capacity to move energy or power in ways that help the building owner and the grid. REH-FLEX is the first inverter specifically designed to exploit this capacity to enable a truly bi-directional grid. It’s both macrogrid and microgrid optimized.”