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Hybrid connectors for the modular Energy Neighbor storage systems

Overview

Distributed stationary Energy Neighbor battery storage system  

Energy Neighbor: intermediate storage of renewable energy

  • Distributed stationary battery storage systems that efficiently utilize renewable energies and stabilize the power grid in the process are key to the energy revolution.
  • The Energy Neighbor battery storage systems in Moosham in Upper Bavaria feature a modular design and can be connected more easily and safely using rectangular hybrid connectors from Phoenix Contact.

Customer profile

Distributed stationary Energy Neighbor battery storage system  

200 kWh of storage capacity from eight battery racks of 13 modules each

As an expert in the field of intermediate energy storage, Varta Storage GmbH specializes in lithium-ion battery storage systems for private and industrial applications. As part of the Varta Microbattery/Varta Storage Corporate Group, the company makes an efficient contribution to the energy revolution through research and development projects.

Application

Battery module in the rack receiving bay  

Quick and safe connection of the battery module

The battery modules of commercially available battery storage systems, which are almost always lithium-ion batteries, are cabled together in a complex system. If connection lines are used for the series connection, the cables are screwed to the positive and negative terminals on the battery blocks.

When large storage systems are commissioned, this results in significant cabling effort. What is more, the risk of installation errors also increases with the number of battery modules. So it makes sense to connect the storage modules with connectors rather than cabling. With a storage capacity of 200 kilowatt hours and output of 250 kilowatts, the storage system can absorb power peaks from solar systems and wind turbine generators and compensate for consumption peaks in households that are connected locally.

Stringent requirements are therefore also placed on performance and connection reliability to ensure easy installation and fast replacement of battery storage modules.

Solution

The battery modules were equipped with a hybrid connection system from Phoenix Contact, so that both the communication and power connections are contacted automatically as the modules are inserted. Up to 100 amps can flow through these flexible interfaces at more than 100 volts. As a result, making contact with the modules is not only safer, but also simpler and faster.

Hybrid connector from Phoenix Contact  

The contact geometry of the connector prevents installation errors

A hybrid connector that meets these special requirements has been developed by Phoenix Contact in cooperation with Varta Storage. The basis of the connector is the Variocon product range – a compact rectangular connector system based on IP67 that is ideal for use in devices, as well as junction boxes and control cabinets in harsh industrial environments.

During the development of the connector system, tried and tested connectors from other battery storage projects were used. Electrical energy storage units are not only becoming more important in stabilization of the power grid, but also in portable tools and machines as well as E-Mobility.

The version developed for the Energy Neighbor has a total of 13 contacts: five power contacts and eight signal contacts. High contact density places special requirements on tolerance compensation during the connection process. This is where the special design of the connector comes into play. The 13 contacts are arranged in a contact insert with a floating design and additional guide pins. The guide pins protrude beyond the contacts and ensure that the battery module plug is correctly aligned during the connection process.

Summary

The modular rectangular connectors from Phoenix Contact act as the interface for energy and data sent to the battery storage systems from Varta Storage GmbH. The interaction between connection technology and battery modules considerably reduces the commissioning and replacement time for the large storage system because the individual modules do not have to be wired manually.

Thus it is possible to design turnkey energy storage solutions of different capacities that are disconnected from the power grid and provide an environmentally friendly and future-proof alternative to existing diesel generators. The prototype of the Energy Neighbor battery storage system from Varta Storage has been demonstrating its capabilities in the field since late 2015.

PHOENIX CONTACT Ltd

8240 Parkhill Drive
Milton, Ontario L9T 5V7
1-800-890-2820

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