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The Hidden Costs: Three Major Challenges Faced by Remote BESS Maintenance

Alvis Chen     Oct 23, 2023
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In the wake of the global energy revolution, storage technologies like BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) is reshaping our perception of power supply. While much of the public's attention is drawn to the high initial construction cost (CapEX) of BESS, its operational expenditure (OpEX) stands as a frequently overlooked yet crucial aspect. As we continue to invest in constructing larger BESS facilities, we cannot underestimate the long-term operational costs associated with decades of BESS usage.

1. Remote Locations: Difficult Deployment, Access, and Maintenance

Large-scale energy storage sites are often strategically located alongside renewable energy facilities (e.g., wind and solar) or near major power transmission hubs. Many of these sites are in remote, hard-to-reach areas. Significant breakdowns can drastically increase the travel costs and time for maintenance teams. Sometimes, the time taken to reach the maintenance site exceeds the actual repair duration. Many experts advise considering integrated monitoring and secure remote connection networks during the initial setup phase. This ensures faster repair times and reduced maintenance costs, whether the teams are in-house or from equipment manufacturers.

2. Extreme Weather: Minor Issues Can Lead to Major Losses

Battery packs, being the priciest component of the entire energy storage system, operate under stringent temperature-controlled environments to prevent overheating. However, not all critical equipment is accorded such privileges. Vital communication devices that gather and transmit battery data, fire suppression systems, and computers running the EMS largely operate without air-conditioning. According to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), today's extreme weather events surpass the average frequency over the past 10 years. Heatwaves, for instance, are 2.8 times more likely to occur than in the previous decade[1], jeopardizing the long-term reliability of electronic products. Experts recommend choosing industrial-grade communication or computer components. These are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, operate without fans, have dual power inputs, and even waterproof features. This not only ensures a more reliable facility operation but also significantly curbs future maintenance costs.

3. Software Vulnerability Updates: A New BESS Maintenance Requirement

With the increasing reliance on computer operations and industrial controllers over manual operations, software vulnerabilities have become the new challenge in O&M (Operation and Maintenance). Numerous industrial computers, controllers, communication devices, and smart sensors within the BESS system operate on embedded operating systems or applications. As technology evolves, previously undetected vulnerabilities and attack methodologies emerge. For example, Linux is commonly used for industrial equipment. However, each Linux distribution only has a maintenance cycle of 3 to 5 years. After the maintenance period ends, if the platform is not updated to a new distribution, software vulnerabilities might remain unpatched. In the worst-case scenario, this might even necessitate rewriting the program, thereby incurring higher operational costs. Since the operational duration of an energy storage project generally lasts for ten years or longer, incorporating cybersecurity updates in BESS maintenance plans is paramount. This not only safeguards the system from potential online threats but also ensures the continual and secure operation of BESS.

BESS plays a pivotal role in today's energy sector. However, to ensure its efficiency and longevity, we must prioritize its long-term operational costs. Every decision, from choosing construction sites, ensuring high-quality electromechanical equipment to software cybersecurity updates, impacts future operational expenses. Through proactive planning and investment, like designing remotely maintainable systems, adopting industrial-grade components, and providing continuous software security updates, we can not only ensure the uninterrupted operation of BESS but also effectively reduce long-term maintenance costs, laying a more solid foundation for the future energy transition.

For more information, please visit the Moxa's Battery Energy Storage System Portal.


[1] The Accelerating Frequency of Extreme Weather Events,, 2022

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