Battery blocks and the future of direct procurement in utility-scale energy storage


Why do you think direct procurement of DC blocks from manufacturers is preferred for large-scale ESS projects?

Vikash Venkataramana: Procuring the DC battery block directly from battery manufacturers gives customers flexibility to pair the battery with their choice of inverter. This approach is not new and is the preferred procurement approach in the solar industry. You rarely see utility customers procuring solar panels and inverters from the same entity. Since large-scale ESS is relatively new, early integrators were able to add value by reducing technology integration risk with turnkey solutions. However, as the industry matures, we already see customers preferring direct procurement from battery manufacturers.

What are the benefits of procuring ESS directly from large battery manufacturers?

Vikash Venkataramana: Large battery manufacturers, like Gotion, are truly vertically integrated, with ownership in everything from lithium mines to DC block manufacturing facilities. Tighter control over subcomponent lead times enables a predictable supply chain, which allows punctual delivery of high-quality products. Gotion batteries and Gotion BMS systems are pre-integrated into Gotion-owned factories, and the systems are fully tested before being shipped to customers. This gives customers confidence in the product they receive and provides customers with a single entity that is responsible for manufacturing and delivering the solution. Customers also have greater confidence in battery manufacturer performance guarantees and warranties, as manufacturers have the best understanding of technology with strong R&D teams.

The challenge for system integrators is that they are dependent on multiple technology providers, thereby exposing themselves to larger supply chain risk. When the supply is limited, in particular, prioritization of access to battery materials and components can be complex. Often, this risk is transferred onto the customers. Also, when issues occur with product performance and safety, sometimes the end customers don’t have clarity on who is directly responsible, the battery supplier or system integrator.

Dr. Vikash Venkataramana, Vice President Energy Storage

Image: Gotion

What are Gotion’s offerings for the US utility market?

Vikash Venkataramana: Gotion has over 100 GWh of battery production globally and is among the three largest LFP battery manufacturers in the world. For the US energy storage system (ESS) market, Gotion promotes UL certified products such as battery cells, modules, packs, racks, and DC battery blocks. For the utility-scale solar market, our most popular offerings are the fully integrated 20-foot DC battery container block solutions that come in 2 variants ─ the air-cooled version at 2.7 MWh and the liquid cooled version at 3.4 MWh.

Is the market ready for direct DC block procurement?

Vikash Venkataramana: Gotion contracts multiple GWh’s of DC battery block solutions for large-scale projects. We see project developers with experience in energy storage directly working with technology providers and moving closer to procuring inverters and batteries separately – especially on large ESS projects. However, we also recognize that some customers prefer a turnkey integrated solution, particularly for smaller projects. I would say the market for direct DC block procurement is growing.

The questions and responses in this sponsored interview article were provided by Gotion.

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