Flexibility is at the heart of the latest battery storage innovations coming from South Korean battery company LG Energy Solution. As seen at the Smarter E event in Munich last week, the business has gone one step further in modularizing its RESU Flex home battery system. It has also developed a new containerized, grid-scale energy storage solution that is delivered pre-assembled.
True to its name, the modular RESU Flex residential battery storage solution can be installed in various capacities, ranging from to 8.6 kWh to 17.2 kWh, with more than 30 different installation forms to maximize space efficiency. According to customer preferences, RESU Flex can be installed on any surface, indoor or outdoor, said the manufacturer.
Depending on the configuration, RESU Flex has a voltage range of 192 V to 531.2 V and can serve different energy usage patterns. The 8.6 kWh system, which features two battery modules and a battery protection unit, is primarily designed to support self-consumption, shaving peak hour loads and back-up critical loads in emergency. The three-battery module unit with 12.9 kWh capacity can cover energy-consuming devices, such as heat pumps and EVs, as well as provide back up to critical loads in emergency. The 17.2 kWh system is well-equipped for a wide range of applications from home to small C&I, as well as a whole home backup, depending on the functionality of the inverter.
The battery module measures 665.2 mm x 665.2 mm x 148.4 mmm and weighs in at 48.9 kg. All configurations come with a separate battery protection unit which weighs at 16.6 kg. The operating temperature range goes from -10 C to 50 C. The product also features an IP55 protection level.
In addition to single-phase inverters, RESU Flex is compatible with three-phase inverters made by Kostal, Fronius, SMA and GoodWe. As Jorg Jurgens, LGES director of energy storage systems EMEA, confirmed to pv magazine, RESU Flex is readily available for shipment. If ordered today, it would be delivered in just a couple of weeks, which is much faster than the time frames offered by most battery manufacturers. Current order waiting times are around five months in Germany, for example.
The new RESU Flex series will feature the NMC battery chemistry. The South Korean manufacturer has long been faithful to NMC, but it now plans to develop and release LFP-standard cells by October 2023 and LFP long cells by the fourth quarter of 2024. The dates are still under review. Jurgens told pv magazine that the transition will be a smooth one, as the LFP cells will be produced in the same format and sizes, so the systems will be able to use the same modules and racks as before.
The new battery cells will be made in Holland in the US state of Michigan, with double-digit gigawatt-scale production lines being added to the facility, Jurgens said. This aligns with an earlier announcement from LG Energy Solution that it is pouring in $1.7 billion to increase the production capacity for battery cells and packs at the Michigan plan, up fivefold from 5 GWh at present.
Once developed, the LFP batteries will be part of the company's expanded portfolio which will still include its existing lineup of NMC batteries.
The move to the safer nickel and cobalt-free battery chemistry follows LG Energy Solution's forced recall of some of its battery energy storage systems in the United States and Australia due to potential fire-related risks. In March 2021, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a recall notice for batteries in LG Energy Solution's lithium-ion RESU residential range, due to the potential risk of overheating and catching fire.
Only a couple of months later, LG Energy Solutions itself launched a free replacement program for certain models that were manufactured between April 2017 and September 2018. The replacement program, which was assessed to cost around $350 million, was announced after overheating incidents were reported.
Last August, LG Energy Solution Michigan launched a recall campaign for its RESU 10H batteries in the US market that affected about 10,000 storage systems. “The home batteries can overheat, poising a risk of fire and emission of harmful smoke,” the manufacturer said at the time. The recall was launched on the back of five reports of the lithium storage batteries smoking and catching on fire, resulting in property damage and one injury.
The first recall of its residential batteries in the United States took place only weeks after the manufacturer launched the new line of products in December 2020. It affected 1,815 RESU 10H units sold between January 2017 and March 2019. The reason behind the recall were reports of LG Chem RESU 10H fires resulting in minor property damage but no injuries.
Other innovations that LG Energy Solutions presented last week in Munich include the new container-based ESS solution is delivered fully assembled at the factory. It said this reduces the site installation time by 40% and cost by 30%. Compared to conventional 40-foot ISO systems, the modular and scalable containerized ESS solution reduces the installation area by 15%, saving costs incorporated with land. It is designed as more than a simple battery rack system, incorporating an active ventilation system, a fire suppression system and a HVAC system.
The company also showcased other high-performance, grid-based ESS products in its portfolio, including a high-voltage rack (1,400V) and the Transportable Rack 1300, a pre-engineered rack system optimized for indoor conditions.
*This article was amended on May 26 to underline that LG Energy Solutions is not is not planning to replace NMC batteries with LFP products, only to round out its line-up of batteries.
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