The revolution of lithium ions in telecommunications – Energy Magazine







The intelligence offered by lithium ions is more critical than ever in today’s ever larger and denser grids.

Santiago de Chile.- The lithium-ion revolution that started a few years ago in data centers has now reached telecommunications networks, and for good reason. Compared with traditional batteries with regulating valve, lead-acid (VRLA)lithium-ion batteries have higher power density, lighter weight and longer life, recharge faster, don’t outgas, have built-in monitoring, and offer a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

These are the reasons why lithium-ion batteries continue to gain market share, primarily in the entry-level space, and at a faster rate in North America. Change has been slow, but this is the nature of telecommunications. The same risk-averse trends that kept VRLA batteries status quo for many years are now driving the shift to lithium-ion technologies that increase efficiency across the grid.

Lithium-ion batteries have many benefits beyond the considerable physical and operational advantages they offer; lithium is an elegant and sophisticated solution for increasingly complex networks. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries offer a level of intelligence—including battery management systems (BMS)—that VRLA batteries can’t match. VRLA batteries are still a blunt instrument and might even be the right choice for certain applications, but the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries are far superior. Also, they are underused.

This is changing with the Vertiv™ NetSure™ Control Unit (NCU), which can run on either lithium-ion or VRLA batteries, or in an advanced monitoring mode that interfaces with the battery management system to integrate alarms and key data from the BMS on the NCU. Together, these systems track lithium-ion batteries across the network, monitoring battery levels and discharge events, and predicting potential problems to help ensure more reliable battery performance. While some monitoring is possible with VRLA batteries, a third-party solution is required that adds cost and complexity to any deployment.

The intelligence offered by lithium ions is more critical than ever in today’s ever larger and denser grids. With the Vertiv NCU and lithium-ion batteries, operators have a clear picture of battery models at each site, battery health, discharge events, and performance data, and can address failures before loss of services. While VRLA batteries die suddenly and without warning, lithium-ion batteries age gracefully, allowing operators to safely manage end-of-life and transition to new batteries. This is invaluable when scaling thousands of sites on a typical network.

These are built-in features and available for free. These are the features of the Vertiv NCU and the battery BMS they offer, available to the operator through a simple Modbus connection with RJ45 cables. With the increasing proliferation of lithium-ion batteries, these are very timely features.

Do you use lithium ion batteries in your network? If so, are you taking advantage of the intelligence built into these batteries?

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