Standardization Harmonization – Tackling Challenges in Energy Storage

Ryan Franks, NEMA

July 2, 2014

Energy storage is the key technology for unleashing the full potential of microgrids, the smart grid, and renewable energy sources. The energy storage systems industry has a market poised for substantial growth and multi-billion dollar annual sales worldwide within a few years, but that assumption is based on removing some current barriers. The 2013 DOE/EPRI Energy Storage Handbook lays out the three biggest hurdles to broader adoption of energy storage technologies -- including high cost, difficulty in deployment, and lack of standards.

Energy storage industry stakeholders are addressing all three of these challenges. As the penetration of grid-connected storage systems increases, economies of scale and advances in manufacturing decrease cost. At the same time, difficulty in deploying systems also decreases as customers and integrators gain experience and favorable regulatory frameworks are adopted.

But, what about standards?


One clear industry need is standardized methods of testing and comparison that enable users and customers to select which product best suits their projects. In addition, safety standards are essential to ensuring the success of the industry. Standardization will mitigate risk to investors and insurers, and ultimately decrease costs. There are several efforts underway to address these.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC): 

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) holds the U.S. Secretariat to IEC Technical Committee (TC) 120, Electrical Energy Storage Systems. Working groups have been established to address terminology, parameters and testing methods, planning and installation, environmental issues, and safety considerations. An ad hoc group devoted to considering System Aspects and Gap Analysis, which will help write the business plan and establish priorities for the committee. In addition, Joint Working Groups (JWG) have started between TC 21 -- Secondary Cells and Batteries -- and TC 82 -- Solar Photovoltaic Energy Systems. These working groups will develop a standard on secondary cells and batteries for renewable energy storage, and additionally between TC 21 and TC 105 -- Fuel Cell Technology -- on standards specific to flow batteries.

EPRI Energy Storage Integration Council (ESIC): 

The objectives of the ESIC are to identify utility requirements for fully-integrated, customizable standard energy storage system products, and to facilitate the development and deployment of safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy storage solutions for the utility industry. These topics are addressed through working groups focused on storage applications, performance evaluation, system development, and grid deployment. The working groups are developing an aggressive schedule tuned to the needs of the California Mandate for energy storage, which was put into place by California AB 2514.

DOE Performance Protocol: 

This document provides methods for the uniform testing and reporting of system attributes in a technology-neutral manner through the establishment of representative duty cycles. Formally, this document is called the "Protocol for Uniformly Measuring and Expressing the Performance of Energy Storage Systems," and a new revision is expected to be publicly available soon.

DOE Safety Workshop: 

This forum accelerates the development of safety considerations for energy storage systems. Its goal is to prevent accidents and failures from reflecting poorly on the industry as a whole.

ANSI-Accredited Standards Committee: 

NEMA has submitted an application, which is pending before ANSI to establish an Accredited Standards Committee on Energy Storage Systems. This committee will serve as a clearinghouse for any relevant documents an organization wishes to bring forward and establish as an American National Standard (ANS). It will prevent conflicting requirements from being implemented and allow IEC documents to be adopted as ANS with possible regional/country-specific modification.


IEEE's important documents include those directed to communications, control, and interoperability, such as IEEE P2030.2 "Draft Guide for the Interoperability of Energy Storage Systems Integrated with Electric Power Infrastructure" and IEEE 1547 "Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems." This also includes product and testing documents, such as IEEE 1679-2010 "Recommended Practice for the Characterization and Evaluation of Emerging Energy Storage Systems."

National Electrical Safety Code (NESC): 

IEEE also publishes the NESC, the standard for the safe installation, operation, and maintenance of electric power and communication utility systems. 

NFPA and the National Electrical Code: 

The National Fire Protection Association publishes standard NFPA 70, commonly known as the National Electrical Code (NEC), which is a model code for the safe installation of electrical wiring and electrical equipment. In contrast to the NESC, the NEC governs elements "behind the meter."  NEMA, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Solar America Board for Codes and Standards, IEEE, and others have all convened groups to develop public input on energy storage systems and products by November 2014 for the 2017 revision of the NEC.


Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), LLC has many component/product standards in published form or in development. An incomplete listing includes UL 1642 "Standard for Lithium Batteries," UL 1741 "Inverters, Controllers, and Interconnection System Equipment for Use with Distributed Energy Resources," UL 1973, UL 2271, UL 2580, and UL 2054on batteries for use in electric rail, electric vehicles, commercial/household batteries, respectively.


Taking stock of the level of activity that is going on, I am inclined to tell those interested in these developments to be encouraged, but also cautious. It is an old joke that the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. 

Industry leaders need to take care in aligning the direction of the groups detailed above (as well as others) in order to minimize the potential for dissimilar, or even conflicting, requirements to be developed. If this is not done, the outcome will be added complexity to engineering, sales, testing, procurement, and auditing.

In contrast, "harmonization" of standards cuts compliance costs and allows products to be developed in a framework, without making them commodities or eliminating anyone's competitive edge. Harmonization, whether done through an official or unofficial rectification process, brings documents from different countries and development organizations in line with one another.

To a large degree, the energy storage industry is cooperative and collaborative between committees and technologies, but harmonization must be kept in mind moving forward. While ad hoc relationships and consultations are a good idea, formal consideration of documents in an American National Standards Institute-accredited process is an excellent idea. This practice ensures due process, consideration by different interest categories of stakeholders and the public, and transparency.

Let's work in harmony, not in cacophony. The energy storage industry cannot squander the time, money, and opportunities that may be lost as a result of doing anything else.

About the Author
Ryan Franks is a leader of international and domestic standardization projects for energy storage, microgrids, and emerging electrotechnical concepts at NEMA, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. In this capacity, he coordinates trends in electric infrastructure with the goal of increasing adoption of these concepts. Franks graduated with a BS in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Illinois and performed materials research and intellectual property analysis prior to joining NEMA.