The World’s First “100% Renewable” Grid

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Originally published by the ECOreport

Younicos has just announced that construction of the world’s first “100% renewable” grid is underway. The battery storage comes from Leclanché’s lithium-ion technology and manufacturing plant in Germany. According to Leclanché CEO Anil Srivastava, this will be the first time “a one megawatt-scale power system is being stabilized using batteries – without the need for thermal generators.”
Graciosa_Feb 2016

100% Penetration Of The Grid

This “100% renewable” penetration of the grid will not occur 100% of the time.

A third of the Azorean island of Graciosa’s existing fossil fuel generation will remain as backup power and to be employed during prolonged periods of unfavorable weather.

Younicos’ software and controls will balance short-term power fluctuations, enabling wind and solar to provide 100% of Graciosa’s electricity most of the time.

“Our technology allows us to use as many renewables as is economically optimal. This is not only drastically reducing CO2 emissions, but also lowering energy costs, since we are replacing expensive imported diesel fuel through locally produced renewable energy,” said Younicos CEO Stephen L. Prince.

Sufficiently Impressed To Take A 50.1% stake

Leclanche - rack Graciosa
Danish financial investor Recharge A/S was sufficiently impressed to take a 50.1% stake in the 24 million Euro Younicos-engineered system and is exploring similar possibilities on neighboring islands.

“The business model pioneered here makes the financing of the changeover to renewables an attractive investment that can be replicated wherever power is generated by expensive imported fuel,” said Scott Macaw, co-founder and Director of Recharge.

Photos Credits: courtesy Younicos

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales

18 thoughts on “The World’s First “100% Renewable” Grid

  • So I think today there are 3 sweets spots for getting batteries into the grid.
    1) This, replacing imported diesel generated electric
    2) User peak shaving (~4 stories back CA schools)
    3) Cutting back running reserve, peaking plants.
    This will provide a market to scale up and bring down costs, enabling more areas.

  • 100% renewable. Except when it’s using FF backup. Why do I click on these articles in an excited way, only to be disappointed by the details? Nevertheless, a step in the right direction 🙂

    • There’s nothing wrong with fossil fuel backup power for those people who have grid anxiety. It’s the same reason a range extender makes sense on plugin vehicles.
      Cutting fossil fuel burning by 80-90% is a very good thing no matter how you look at it.

      • Harry, I agree with you, 80+% less FF fuels is great! I was just disappointed by the misleading title…

        • Meh. Compared to Fox News, I’ll give CleanTechnica a pass every time. (-:

          • Maybe have a nuclear plant for bad weather standby.

            Bad weather? Hmmm? I guess a week to two of windless dense fog?

          • Wow! That would be some really expensive deep backup.

            And you’d have to reliably predict the stretch of bad weather days ahead. It can take two to three days to get a nuclear reactor turned on.

            We really need better data so that we have a better idea what ‘stretches of bad weather’ actually look like. The examples people use are localized. A common anti-renewable example is a stretch of days when the Bonneville utility had almost no wind generation. But we don’t know if a transmission line could have brought in the power needed from planes where the Sun was bright and the wind strong.

            Having lived in the CA Central Valley I know there are sequential days when the Sun is blocked by the tule fog. Having lived in the Sierra foothills, not many miles out of the Central Valley, I know that on those foggy Valley days the Sun is generally shining bright just up the hill. Panels at 1,000′ and higher would produce the electricity needed.

            We need a model for the US (Canada and northern Mexico included) that assume adequate transmission and then takes actual demand along with wind and solar data and determines whether we really need any deep backup or if we might be able to overbuild a bit everywhere and use that overbuild to supply the places that are temporarily resource short.

            If we find, for example, that every time the wind goes low in the PNW there’s lots of sunshine in the SW and Wyoming wind is blowing then the PNW doesn’t need deep backup, it needs enough transmission and storage to supply itself from outside.

            Do that and then it becomes a process of tweaking the model to determine the optimal amount of overbuilding, storage and transmission.

          • Totally on-board with your thoughts here. Weather prediction has become one of the unsung heroes of clean energy.

            But yes, even with good prediction, nuclear would be crazy nuts as a backup for an island grid. Unless the navy was decommissioning an old sub that you could park somewhere. No, still not really.

            Yeah, finding the sweet spot between overbuilding and battery is likely the way they will go. Or declare an energy holiday where everybody shuts down everything but the freezer. Stay home, talk to the neighbors, barbecue in the back yard, add more insulation to the house. Make low energy days high energy social days.

          • EVs will give the grid a huge cushion. Charge up everyone when there’s plenty of supply and during the 4, 5, 6 days of low input let the charge drop where possible.

            Someone with a 250 mile range might be fine with a 50 mile minimum (enough to do the daily commute plus get to the hospital a few miles away in an emergency). That would be a lot of demand that could be postponed. Just offer a sweetener to EV drivers and give them manual overrides in the event they have a long day scheduled.

    • It’s not clear they’ll ever actually use the backup. That’s the big difference here. The backup is like having an emergency diesel generator in case the grid goes out.

      • Yup. Whats 2 weeks out of 52. about 4%. Thats a whopping decrease in emissions.

    • Well. When backup is reduced to very low levels, it’s possible to replace easily the remaining part by long term storage or renewable fuels. For example, biomass or biogas as renewable fuel, or hydrogen as long term storage.

      Batteries are good for fast changing demand and short/medium storage. But It isn’t so good for the last peak demand because the discharge and unneed overpowering of the backup. Other solutions like hydrogen or synthetic fuels or flow batteries can decouple power and storage and minimize loses.

      These solutions are more expesive, but if they are a small fraction of the total demand, then the total cost is not a problem.

      In any case, because the mainly part is renewable, there is no pressure to replace this remaining part by pure renewable. Perhaps raising emission costs would force to accelerate the change.

      • The deep backup solutions are expensive, but we pay high prices for the ‘last 1%’ of our supply now. A peaker plant that sits idle 364.5 days a year has to charge a lot for its output during the half day a year it operates.

        Those very high prices are a small amount of the total and get largely averaged away.

  • Generally off grid these days can hit up to 97% exclusively solar and storage without diesel back up and be economical. The last 3% is still cheaper with diesel, but those who prefer purity could obtain the last 3% with large battery storage. In places like Arizona I think it would be easy to hit 100% without back up generator. I expect to see a few model houses attempt this soon.

  • Did I miss read the article …~$30mm (US) for a “1” MW system?

    • It’s an island way out in the Atlantic. Everything has to be shipped there by sea or air. The developer may also need to bring in expert personnel to assemble the system. It’s competing with imported diesel power, so it can be fairly high priced and still be cheaper than what the island has now.

      • Being a Business Development kind of guy I can’t help but compare. I don’t know what the power demands are on the island (of course) But, we can delver a reliable, 24/7 15MW, 100% renewable energy system for <$70mm that also disposes of ~70 mtpd of MSW (trash) with no negative environmental impact. That's a CAPEX of $4.5mm/MW VS the $30mm/MW for the battery system…an 84% decrease in cost per power generated capacity, along with the elimination of landfill operations in the community. Even "way out in the Atlantic" that's going to be a better choice.

        • Maybe you should contact them and suggest it. Or contact one of the other islands in the group. There’s nine islands in the Azores, and all but one appear to be inhabited. You may need a Portuguese translator.

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