Big Ass Battery‘s stated goal is crystal clear: to create the smartest battery in the world. With Nobleo’s help, the company is well on its way in achieving this ambition.
“Designing and supplying solutions that offer clean, mobile energy storage started as a hobby for me,” says Guido de Jong, CTO and founder of Big Ass Battery. “But then I realised there was actually a huge market for large-scale power units like that. So I launched the company.”
Big Ass Battery, as the name clearly suggests, designs, develops and manufactures mobile, clean and large-scale energy storage solutions that are a sustainable (and noiseless) alternative to diesel generators. The company, based in the Dutch town of Nuenen, provides ultra-intelligent 1 MW power sources housed in 10-foot shipping containers that can be used for electricity grid reinforcement, energy storage and supply, and fast charging of (large) electric vehicles.
Right from the start, Guido didn’t want to simply produce a standard battery unit. He envisioned sophisticated, intelligent, data-driven systems which could optimise the performance of the battery at any given moment. “I knew that what I wanted was very difficult to achieve,” he says. “Especially the AI part I had in mind. I mean, switching a mobile power source on and off isn’t that difficult. But to let the system make its own decisions, in many different situations, is very complex. You need some pretty smart people to add such intelligence to the system.”
Through Phoenix Contact, an electronics specialist who provide many of the components used in Big Ass Battery’s equipment, Guido was introduced to Nobleo. There was an immediate click, and the two parties started collaborating in February 2021. “The software Nobleo has been developing is designed to make it as easy as possible for users,” says Guido. “Anyone who knows how to use a diesel generator automatically knows how to operate our equipment. Everything else is taken care of automatically.”
‘Everything else’ in this context is a lot. How to regulate the energy flow when electricity is coming in, e.g. from solar panels, and also going out. What’s the best (and cheapest) moment of the day to recharge. What to do with unused capacity at any given moment – it can often be sold back to the grid to generate additional income for the user. To help with ‘peak shaving’ (storing excess electricity from the grid and feeding it back when demand is high/supply is low). Receiving updates remotely. And so on.
“Nobleo has the experts we need to help us achieve our ambition,” says Guido. “They know that we’re striving for digital excellence, and to deliver the highest-quality storage solutions in the world. We want to be pioneers of the future, and they help us in that. They understand the hardware in great detail, and this knowledge helps their software developers create the necessary functionality. After only a few months, data could already be extracted from the system and sent to the cloud. This was simply not possible before.”
“The AI algorithms developed by Nobleo really make our battery units smarter,” he adds. “For example, if a container is exposed to direct sunlight, it heats up. Through AI, the unit knows exactly
when to turn on the heat pump to make itself more energy efficient. And also at what moments to sell unused capacity back to the grid.”
Approximately 15 specialists from Nobleo are currently helping the 25-strong Big Ass Battery workforce on projects which also include further development of AI, a fast-charging feature, testing, quality improvement and production efficiency. “It’s a real partnership,” says Guido. “I very much appreciate Nobleo’s attitude. Especially in the beginning, we had a number of projects that had to be delivered within tight deadlines. Together with our Nobleo colleagues, we would work through the night to make sure we delivered on time. That’s true commitment.”
Things are moving fast at Big Ass Battery. “We’re looking for a new production facility that’s considerably larger than the one we currently have,” says Guido. “The number of systems we produce each year is rising steeply. And, although we’re currently active in the Netherlands, we foresee expansion into the rest of Europe at some point. Nobleo has a role in making all this happen, because we have to do multiple things in parallel to ensure we can move in approximately two years’ time,” he continues. “That’s only possible if you work together with so many good people.”
Guido also envisages branching out into the home battery market. “We will soon do a pilot project with approximately 10 units, which will collect data in people’s homes for a year to assess the feasibility,” he says. “These units have simplicity at their core. You can just plug them into a socket, without the need for an installer. Everything happens automatically.” In this, like in other projects, he believes that Big Ass Battery can team up with Nobleo. “They enable us to go a step further than we could alone,” he adds. This successful partnership looks likely to continue for some time to come.