The Kotzebue Electric Association Inc. (KEA), an electric cooperative based in Kotzebue, Alaska, has received a Saft Intensium® Max+ 20M containerized Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) with an innovative “Cold Temperature Package.” The energy storage technology works in conjunction with a hybrid wind-diesel power system.
Kotzebue is about 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle and has a human population of about 3,500. About 70% of the residents are Inupiat Eskimos. Jim McDowall, the Business Development Manager for Saft America’s ESS Business Unit generously answered some questions for this interview.
Is the basic premise for the Kotzebue battery system that it will store electricity generated by wind power in order to use less diesel fuel for the diesel generator?
Yes, the primary goal is to reduce diesel fuel usage. This is achieved by turning off diesels wherever possible (without storage, some diesels have to be left running at part load, in case the wind output drops suddenly), and to run the diesels as efficiently as possible.
What is the size of the wind power system?
KEA’s current wind farm is made up of 17 turbines with a maximum capacity of 1.14MW. The plan is to install two additional 900kW wind turbines, which will increase the wind farm’s capacity to 2.94MW – nearly triple the current installed capacity.
Potentially, how much money could it save over time?
Typically, a system of this size may allow tens of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel to be saved per year. With the additional savings in diesel maintenance costs, the overall annual cost benefit may run well into six figures and the energy storage system has the potential to pay for itself in just a few years.
What is the cost of the system?
While we cannot disclose this information, with the additional savings in diesel maintenance costs, the overall annual cost benefit may run well into six figures and the energy storage system has the potential to pay for itself in just a few years.
How long does it take for the installation and connection?
Both the battery container and power conversion system ship fully assembled and installation can be completed in a few days, if the foundations have been prepared and cables laid.
How do you identify utilities like the one at Kotzebue to work with?
We work with a variety of state-funded organizations and academic institutions as well as the utilities themselves, both directly and through partner companies. We also promote the concept by speaking at conferences dedicated to hybrid energy and remote power.
Is the system designed to work well with solar power too?
Yes. We have a smaller-scale system in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories, also located just north of the Arctic Circle, in conjunction with a PV array.
How much maintenance of the battery system is required?
Preventive maintenance consists of a light semiannual check and a more detailed annual inspection. Some corrective maintenance is also likely to be required, mostly in the form of replacing electronic boards. What is important is that both the battery and the power conversion system use highly modular construction, so the system will continue to operate when a module has a fault.
What was Saft’s first battery project above the Arctic Circle?
The Colville Lake system, Northwest Territories, located just north of the Arctic Circle.
How many more similar projects are you expecting in Alaska or other cold temperature regions?
There are hundreds of remote communities across Alaska and Northern Canada, and all are grappling with the high cost of diesel generation. After the early adopters have demonstrated the benefits of hybrid powering schemes with energy storage we would expect many more of those communities to get on board.
Can you share some of the specs, such as: cost/kWh, cycle life, depth-of-discharge (DoD) for that cycle life, specific energy (Wh/kg) and energy density (Wh/liter)?
The battery is in a high-cube 20-foot ISO container and is rated at 950kWh and up to 2.1MW. The weight is 16.5 metric tons. The cycle life depends on the conditions and ranges from several thousand deep cycles up to millions of very shallow cycles. In these applications the operational profile (depth and frequency of discharge) is adjusted to achieve the desired operating life.
Image Credits: Saft
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