In order to combat the growing problem of power instability in remote parts of Australia, utilities are deploying large-scale battery energy storage systems to increase reliability, assist with the integration of renewables, and save millions of dollars on infrastructure upgrades.
Rural Australia has a sparsely populated grid and customers are often connected by long, heavily loaded lines. This, combined with aging infrastructure, an increase in extreme weather events, and the destabilising effect of renewables, results in rural customers often experiencing lower standards of service than their city dwelling counterparts.
Owen Lock, Application Director Asia Pacific at S&C Electric Company, one of only a few companies that has successfully deployed mega-watt scale, grid-connected energy storage systems in Australia, says battery storage can help overcome these problems. S&C Electric Company has been in operation across the globe for more than 100 years, and in the Australian market for more than 60 years.
“If a section of the grid is reaching capacity, we can install a battery in order to alleviate the stress on the network during times of high demand,” Mr Lock says.
“An islanding system can even disconnect a segment of the grid and supply it from the batteries during a power outage. The customers served by the battery would be oblivious to the fact that the grid is down.”
Community expectations around the quality and reliability of the electricity supply are also on the rise, and Mr Lock says to meet these expectations we need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems, not necessarily more poles and wires.
This was the case for a utility company in Queensland who needed to improve the quality of the power served to its customers connected to Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) Lines in rural Australia. The cost of upgrading long power lines that run through rugged, inaccessible terrain in the Australian outback was very high, so they employed S&C Electric Company to install a more commercially viable solution – an integrated PureWave CES Community Energy Storage System.
“A battery energy storage system is the single most complex piece of infrastructure connected to the distribution grid, and deploying this technology is more challenging than most engineers first envisage,” Mr Lock says.
“It requires a broad range of power systems engineering expertise, some of which no longer exists in the modern lean, privately-owned utility.
“The biggest challenges lie not in the batteries themselves, but with how the various sub-systems are integrated to produce a cohesive solution, and how this solution is integrated into the grid. The technology is evolving rapidly and most providers are still learning many lessons the hard way, so the best way to ensure success is to employ a highly experienced system integrator.
“A true energy storage integrator has experience with all facets of the energy storage equation, from policy and regulation, to building the business case, integrating the technology with the grid, and of course supporting the solution throughout the entire life of the system.
“Energy storage offers many benefits to consumers, both in rural and city environments, and the challenge at this point in time is for the industry as a whole to move beyond learning how to integrate a battery with an inverter, and get on with proving the financial and societal benefits that this truly amazing technology can offer, as S&C has been doing for over 10 years now.”
This partner content is brought to you by the S&C Electric Company. For more information, visit www.sandc.com