Graciosa Island in the Azores is the site of a megawatt-scale energy storage system in development by Younicos and Leclanche, a Swiss battery manufacturer. A Leclanche battery system utilizing lithium-ion batteries will provide the energy storage and Younicos will handle the energy management.
The battery pack will have a 2.8 MWh capacity and the whole system will be combined with 5.5 MW of renewable energy–based electricity generation capacity — mostly wind, with some solar. When completed, it is expected the whole system will increase the island’s renewable electricity production to 65% of the total. Currently, about 15% is generated by renewables, which makes the island dependent upon the importing of fossil fuels.
“This is an exciting partnership on many levels. We have long been intrigued by Leclanché’s BESS and are confident that – coupled with our software – it will provide an extremely stable backbone of a fundamentally new energy system. At the same time, working with an industry-leading battery manufacturer such as Leclanché, and with Recharge as financing partner, underscores the ability of Younicos to lead micro-grid projects worldwide,” explained James P. McDougall, CEO of Younicos.
The island has a human population of about 4,700 and is located within an autonomous region of Portugal. The chief economic activity is agriculture. Beef, wine, and fruit are some of most commonly produced food items.
You might be thinking, “So what? It’s just several thousand people.”
These small renewable energy, microgrid, and energy storage projects can be seen as pilots for larger ones down the road. Island economies that rely on imported fossil fuels are vulnerable because they generally spend too much on energy. When they have the ability to generate their own electricity and store it, they can strengthen their economies and reduce air pollution locally. Of course, they also produce less climate change emissions.
In a sense, small islands that go down the path of renewables combined with energy storage are trailblazers, though they may not receive any credit. Larger countries and regions will likely follow theire lead, just a bit further down the road.
Image Credit: Angrense, Wiki Commons
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