Projected to exceed 400 GWh of global annual capacity by 2030, the battery energy storage system (BESS) market is transforming how electricity grids operate. In addition to providing revenue savings and incentives for ratepayers and businesses, expanding BESS penetration supports the transition to net zero emissions. BESS can firm renewable energy at scale — stabilizing its variable output — which is critical as intermittent sources could make up as much as 50% of the global energy supply by 2030.
As the BESS market continues to mature, it’s become more integrated with the local communities it serves, much like wind and solar energy. While excellent from a visibility point of view, as this lets individuals witness critical climate solutions in action, situating near population centers has raised a new issue: noise pollution.
Though it wasn’t previously a significant problem when BESS were located hundreds of kilometers away from where people live, today, noise represents a chief concern for the industry and communities. Prolonged exposure is not only disruptive, but detrimental to human health, making it critical that BESS providers mitigate noise as best they can. Those that don’t may find it challenging to keep up with the BESS market, as regulators and companies now commonly factor noise pollution into the early bidding stages of projects, and a growing number of jurisdictions — like Ontario — have adopted stringent noise restraints.
Why are BESS Moving Closer to Communities?
It all comes down to demand — for efficiency, resiliency, and grid support. By a wide margin, urban areas have the largest electrical loads; locating BESS nearby reduces transmission losses, ensuring that energy is optimally utilized. It also enhances grid stability, as the rapid response capabilities of BESS can support the fluctuating demand of densely populated areas. Up-and-coming technologies like smart grids and virtual power plants — overwhelmingly located in urban settings — also benefit from BESS integration, as they can synergize to deliver more robust results.
Driven by various factors, urbanized BESS are likely to remain commonplace, meaning providers must prioritize addressing noise pollution if they haven’t already.
The Source of Noise in Battery Energy Storage Systems
The primary cause of noise in BESS is internal cooling mechanisms — namely fans — which are needed to prevent overheating and internal failure. Battery cells generate significant heat when charging or discharging, making it critical that systems have a way to vent and reduce hot temperatures. Fans are vital to any BESS despite the noise, as they ensure operational performance, longevity, and safety.
Ironically, many BESS also use fans to protect other cooling equipment like radiators or heat exchangers, which transfer heat away from more sensitive components but are prone to overheating themselves. Additionally, BESS commonly employ “enclosure fans,” which help minimize core temperatures but further contribute to noise pollution.
Power conversion devices in BESS, like inverters, which transform direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) for grid integration, also emit continuous humming noise. Efficient conversion processes require stable operating temperatures, increasing the need for effective, but noisy, cooling solutions.
Tackling BESS Noise Pollution
Luckily for BESS providers, mitigating noise pollution doesn’t require reinventing the wheel — existing strategies and tools have proven quite successful. For example, oversizing fans (i.e., making them larger than they technically need to be) is a common noise mitigation measure. This is because the noise from fans is directly proportional to the speed at which their blades turn. Large fans can produce the same amount of cooling while spinning at a lower rate than small ones, so they’re a highly effective solution for minimizing excessive noise pollution.
There’s also the option to implement variable speed controls, which enable BESS to adjust the intensity of fans in line with demand. During downtime, when battery cells aren’t generating much heat, variable speed controls can minimize cooling intensity, scaling back fan output to reduce noise pollution and save on energy costs. This is highly efficient compared to systems that operate in an on/off dichotomy, as fans don’t always have to work at maximum capacity to achieve the desired cooling effect.
BESS providers also have the option to utilize sound barriers, which can be physical or natural (i.e., concrete or dense trees), to limit the direct transmission of noise to nearby surrounding areas. Typically designed to reflect or absorb sound, barriers are optimal for highly dense environments where noise pollution would otherwise have detrimental impacts.
The EVLO Advantage
EVLO is committed to leading the BESS market, whether it’s in tackling noise reduction, fire safety, or other challenges that our customers face. With every project undertaken, our team can commit to comprehensive, site-specific analyses, allowing us to provide accurate sound models to inform noise mitigation efforts. It’s tempting for BESS providers to try and handle soundscape-specific calculations on the fly, but this isn’t an effective strategy given the complexity involved.
EVLO’s examination of noise sources and their potential for propagation utilizes advanced techniques and tools that predict, simulate, and quantify the exact levels of noise pollution that a BESS will create under certain operating conditions. Equipped with this information, EVLO’s team addresses the situation with the most effective, holistic noise reduction strategy possible. Additionally, EVLO leverages its extensive data library to develop innovative BESS models for various sound scenarios, proactively working to drive greater efficiency in every new deployment.
Site-specific sound models aren’t the only advantage of EVLO systems. Our latest BESS — the EVLOFLEX — comes in both regular and low-noise models, making it perfect for jurisdictions with stringent noise regulations. The low-noise model’s internal fans are oversized and optimized to provide maximum cooling at the lowest possible noise levels, and the systems are designed to utilize natural air circulation for enhanced cooling, safety, and durability. EVLO is the only BESS provider offering this capability, demonstrating our team’s commitment to being the most innovative, safe, and efficient BESS on the market.
With BESS becoming a growing part of local communities, it’s critical that providers have a plan to mitigate noise pollution. Residents and businesses don’t want to contend with daily disruptions, nor should they have to. As an industry leader, EVLO takes this to heart with an industry-leading approach that leverages the most accurate soundscape information available paired with cutting-edge technology.
Transform your project today – contact us to get started and optimize your power system with EVLOFLEX.