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Did You Know? February 2022

Did you know that lead, as in lead-acid batteries, is not dead, but certain sectors are trying their very best to speed the demise? A news item in the February 7th issue of the Battery Energy and Storage (BEST) Battery Briefing caught my attention big time. There is a proposal within the European Union (EU) to ban lead in battery manufacturing. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), an agency of the EU, has plans to include lead on a recommendation for substances to be included on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Authorization List. What this means in plain language is that lead would be phased out in battery manufacturing and could only be used if special permission is granted by the EU Commission. It is somewhat ironic that an article in the same BEST Battery Briefing reports under the headline “Lithium-ion takes lion’s share of battery sector’s funding year in almost a decade.” It goes on to state that “lithium-ion based battery technology companies receive the most VC (Venture Capital) funding in 2021, with investments also pouring into solid-state, flow, thermal energy storage, liquid metal, solid-state, gravity storage, and metal-hydrogen batteries.’” It seems there are so many to choose from but they can’t all be winners. One might want to follow the money, but this author is not betting on the favorite.

Did you know that almost a year since Texas suffered a catastrophic power outage, the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization responsible for managing 90% of the state’s electrical supply, is suffering a non-power related shortage? Manpower seems to be the problem – with a reported 60 vacancies in engineering-related positions. 

Did you know that, according to a new Kingsley Report, net-zero climate policies are impossibly expensive? The report claims that, in Europe, the cost will equate to a staggering €8,400 per family per year, with the cost increasing in real terms every year to 2050. To put this in perspective, the annual cost of €940 billion is more than the €654 billion that the entire European Union (EU) spends on education. It also roughly equals what the EU spends on health and more than is collectively spent on defense, recreation, police, prisons, the courts, housing, culture and the environment. How do you spell “wishful thinking”?

Did you know that the U.S. is running out of storage space? According to the New York Times, warehouse space is the latest thing being hoarded. Because of recent supply chain problems, retailers want to stockpile goods; however, there is a problem in that there is nowhere to store the stuff. There is a chronic shortage of warehouse space, reported to only be a vacancy rate of 3.2% at the end of 2021. With more foresight than luck, Eagle Eye has more than tripled their warehouse space so that they can stock more of their customers’ immediate needs.

Did you know that one company, Clarios (previously Johnson Controls Power Solutions Division), plans to make an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery with smart monitoring technology built right into it within three years? Sounds like a good thing to me.

Did you know that, according to an Uptime Institute 2020 survey and an article in the February 8, 2022 issue of Forbes, it appears that power outages did not cause the most downtime in data centers, but rather it was misconfigurations, routing errors and software bugs? Surprisingly, none of the outages cited were the result of cybersecurity attacks. The article specifically mentions as prime examples occurrences at Facebook, Google, KT Corp. and web services providers AWS and Fastly. Southwest Airlines was hit by multiple outages in 2021. So why have things gotten worse rather than better? In blunt terms, the Forbes piece states that “Despite the critical nature of network infrastructure, it gets deprioritized. and staff are invested in engineering to upgrade infrastructure, it gets deprioritized. Money and staff are invested in engineering to upgrade infrastructure and build redundancy but not in ops where problems get resolved. Companies are under pressure to reduce operating costs, yielding skeleton crews.” Do we see a parallel to the electrical utility industry here? Just asking!

2 thoughts on “Did You Know? February 2022

  1. Sir,
    In critical applications, Power outages are unacceptable and unpredictable. But on other hand it is said its inevitable. Sounds tricky. Globally lot of RD work is carried out to improve the situation and to prove the consistency. Lot of investment is made on R&D.

    As you rightly said, there are several factors involved in power outages. Each one is Distinct. However Power outages are inevitable. In my experience, since the issue is Distinct, our focus should be more on issues rather than remedial issues.

    General sequence of operation during power outages is “MAIN SUPPLY FAIL – SWITCH OVER TO INVERTER MODE AND THEN TO DG MODE.

    All happens in fraction of seconds. Therefore time factor is more important with extraordinary product workmen ship & facility support.

    There is a saying that ” HUMAN IS ERROR”. Then what next. it’s perdition through reliable information. Coming to critical applications, 24/7 power is mandatory. Therefore we need a foolproof equipment to monitor the SOH of back up power irrespective of good back up power support, good facility support or other engineering related issues.

    Assume that, “we have every thing” but power outage is inevitable is as good as “we have nothing” engage the human resource only if necessary.

    Good monitoring on stand by power equipment is the need of the hour. 70% of the product reliability could be sorted out through inspection of all incoming equipment’s with precise hand held testers.

    And by deploying BMS and held testers, will provide us the information on SOH in advance which will help us to avoid power interruption to max.

    This is my general opinion with my 40 years of experience in stand by power applications. .

    Regards
    J. Kumar
    Rachita Systems

    1. Thank you for your comment. We couldn’t agree with you more. Battery monitoring, testing, and preventative maintenance are the best ways to proactively maintain backup power reliability.

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