In the quest for a more sustainable economy, how we generate and consume energy is changing. New technologies offer consumers the chance to take control of their own energy needs for the first time. Renewable energy sources, including solar and wind generation, allow homeowners and businesses to reduce their environmental impact.
Renewable technology allows us to reduce our dependency on traditional sources of energy. However, many of these alternative sources are weather and time-of-day dependent; therefore, their availability can fluctuate as conditions change. The conventional energy grid solves this with fossil fuels. But as we move towards a decarbonized economy, we need to find new methods to bridge the gap between fluctuating supply and peak demand.
Energy users are turning to the latest energy storage solutions (ESS) to achieve a reliable supply. The recent advances in battery technology, driven in large part by the growth of electric vehicles, are providing new and exciting possibilities for storage solutions that will allow users to plan for variations in demand. Fixed batteries will provide the grid stabilization required for daily use in domestic and industrial applications.
Power in Remote Locations
One of the most significant changes will be the distributed nature of these energy storage solutions. For many years, the conventional grid has been the most efficient method to supply energy. Generated from a central location, energy is distributed via a vast infrastructure of wires, inverters, and transformers. In contrast, new energy sources and storage systems can be installed remotely, close to the point of need. Not only does this allow users to control their efficiency, but it also provides energy security as it lessens the dependence on the traditional grid. As a result, the latest generation of storage devices will be found in various applications.
Large, fixed battery solutions will become familiar in homes worldwide, protected from the elements (Figure 1). However, their use will extend far beyond the domestic arena, and ESS devices will be standard in various environments and industries.
Figure 1: Energy storage solutions will become common in the home. (Source: malp – stock.adobe.com)
Using ESS in public spaces will create challenges for safe and reliable power connections. These large batteries will regularly see voltages of 1000 volts and currents of 300 Amps or greater. As a result, there will be a need for power connections that deliver greater user safety. In addition, these ESS devices must employ sophisticated battery management systems to ensure safety during charging and discharging. As a result, whether they are designed for homeowners or industrial facilities, the latest ESS devices will be designed with user safety in mind.
Connectors must provide superior electrical safety and reliability for ESS devices installed in remote locations. They also need to withstand frequent temperature changes and even resist the damage caused by sunlight. As a result, connectors that are intended for use in the renewable energy and energy storage industries must be designed for these challenging conditions.
For high-power applications, Molex has developed the PowerWize High-Current Interconnect System. Designed especially for the latest power applications, PowerWize is a wire-to-board and wire-to-busbar solution that is ideally suited for future energy storage system installations.
The PowerWize family uses a terminal with a basket-type design that delivers increased contact surface area compared to traditional terminal configurations (Figure 2). This delivers a higher current rating while helping to keep temperature increases low. The PowerWize family has 6mm terminals rated up to 120 Amps and 8mm terminals capable of up to 175 Amps.
Figure 2: The basket design of the PowerWize terminal delivers superior contact surface area and high current ratings. (Source: Molex)
The two-pole housings are mechanically keyed to prevent mis-mating, a vital consideration when handling high currents. In addition, color-coded versions are available for applications that require easy identification of different headers on the same board. Screw-mounting headers can be used to terminate connectors to PCBs or busbars, making the PowerWize family a versatile tool for power applications across various industries, including industrial automation and data centers, as well as alternative energy.
As we move towards a carbon-neutral economy, we are changing from traditional, fossil-fuel energy sources to renewable alternatives. The latest energy storage solutions will play a key role in this change, providing grid stabilization. Connectors will be critical components that must deliver high currents safely and securely. Molex offers a complete range of connectors that provide superior features that make them ideal for the new energy economy, including the PowerWize family. To learn more about the range of Molex solutions for energy storage solutions, visit Mouser Electronics.
The blog first appeared in Mouser Electronics website.