Is Data the Weak Link in your Risk Management Strategy?


How Data could be putting your performance and capacity guarantees at risk

When investing in an energy storage system, owners and operators look to performance, availability, and/or a capacity guarantees to mitigate their risk from the start. Everyone wants to make sure their systems work effectively for the entire lifetime of the project and wants financial security in their investment. But these guarantees have a weak spot many overlook: data management and security is key to accessing the benefits of these guarantees, should they be needed. Our Senior Manager of Technology and Head of R&D, Tristan Doherty, explains more.

Tristan Doherty headshot
By: Tristan Doherty, Senior Manager of Technology; Head of R&D

The Importance of Performance Data

Battery warranties usually index the guaranteed state of health against how the battery has been operated. For example, if a customer uses the battery in a way that exceeds the expected operating parameters, the cells can degrade faster than expected. Recording and storing operational data securely and consistently is therefore paramount. This is so important that most contracts explicitly state that if this data is not available, the capacity guarantee may in fact be void! We’ve had more than one customer approach us after working directly with battery and software suppliers who have battled over who takes responsibility for these data warranty issues. Being prepared with a good plan for your data from the start can help you avoid some serious headaches. These requirements aren’t just for battery capacity guarantees – they also exist for many other types of guarantees, such as availability or performance guarantees for other components or the system as a whole.  Where Can You Store Your Data Efficiently? There are three main options for storing your data:

  1. Onsite storage continues to store data when your internet connection is down, a key point in remote projects. Onsite data storage also allows you to store higher frequency data that is useful for troubleshooting but impractical to transmit over a bandwidth limited internet connection.  
  1. Offsite storage can store much more data, keeps multiple backups, offers better accessibility to your data, and generally has more options in terms of keeping data safe. Offsite cloud data storage is also a powerful enabler if you are planning on using modern data science toolsets to help optimize your operational or maintenance activities.
  1. A hybrid approach can achieve the best of both worlds, where a shorter duration of data (for example 1 month – 1 year) is stored onsite and periodically synced to a cloud repository.  

When Should You Hit Save?  Frequency of data collection and duration of storage is also an important aspect to consider. Collecting highly detailed data can yield exceptional operational insight and help identify the root cause of problems after the fact, but if you’re expecting to store this data for the full life of the project, it can add up fast. Several approaches exist to address this problem:

  1. Storing-on-change stores another data point when the value being monitored changes. This works well only for values that do not change often and is common in most industrial data systems.
  1. Dynamic sampling is another approach where an event like a warning or fault might trigger a short, high-frequency burst of data collection. When correctly configured, this can be useful in failure analyses or tracking down persistent but intermittent problems.
  1. Down-sampling for long term storage stores high frequency data in the short term, then down-samples it to a more manageable frequency for longer term storage. This enables users to investigate trouble events as long as they are recognized before the data is reduced for long term storage, but requires some engineering judgement to decide how and when to down-sample the data.

Keep Your Stored Data Safe Data collection systems should be designed with robust automated alerts and external monitoring/data auditing to guarantee data safety and meet the stringent requirements of modern cybersecurity regulations. A thorough examination and understanding of these standards and regulatory frameworks is critical in the design phase of these systems.  Some key data safety topics to consider include:

  1. Backups and disaster recovery
  1. Authentication and access control procedures
  1. Emergency procedures and metrics
  1. Cybersecurity incident response  

Some links to learn more about data safety: NERC-CIP StandardsISO/IEC 27001 – Information Security Management Systems – RequirementsNational Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity FrameworkUse Your Data Wisely As is hopefully now evident, there are many challenges and potential pitfalls that need to be addressed when designing a warranty data collection and storage system that will stand the test of time. But missing or lost data could potentially cost you millions in un-collectable liquidated damages, so it’s an area that deserves special attention. It's also important to remember that while proper data management is essential to maintaining your system guarantees, that's only one in a long list of valuable use-cases. Long-term and detailed project data is critical to helping owners and operators understand and gain the maximum value available from a system.  Store safely, plan smartly, and use your data well. Read More:IHI Terrasun Solutions remotely Upgrades an Energy Storage System for Safety and EfficiencyQ&A With Energy Storage Experts on Safety