Published on December 18th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley0
Tesla To Provide 93 MWh Grid-Scale Storage Battery For Electricity Co-Op In Alaska
December 18th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
Homer Electric Association is an energy cooperative that serves the needs of some 50,000 people living on the Kenai Peninsular south of Anchorage, Alaska. It announced this week that it has agreed to the purchase and installation of a 93 MWh battery energy storage system supplied by Tesla “to increase grid stability, electric power reliability and system efficiency for its members,” according to an online post on HEA’s website. Installation of the Tesla battery is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021. No information about the cost of the project is being released by HEA or Tesla at this time.
The battery will be located at HEA’s Soldatna Generating Plant, a gas turbine facility with a capacity of 47 megawatts. It can normally power up in about 15 minutes to meet a surge in the demand for electricity but will be called upon to do so less frequently once the Tesla battery is in operation. 15 minutes is a pretty good response time for a turbine but a battery like the one Tesla is providing can react in milliseconds. That’s the difference between 20th and 21st century technology.
The new battery will allow HEA to meet its reliability requirements without having to burn additional fuel, resulting in greater system efficiencies, lower greenhouse gas production, and reduced power outages. But it will have an additional benefit as well. It will open the door for the co-op to include more solar or wind energy in its portfolio in the future. Without battery storage in place, the co-op’s thermal generation resources could be strained due to the intermittency of renewable energy.
HEA has a relatively modest renewable energy goal of 18% within the next few years. At the present time, it gets about 10% of its electricity from the Bradley Lake hydroelectric facility owned by the Alaska Energy Authority. It has recently committed to a new hydroelectric initiative known as the Battle Creek Diversion Project, which involves the installation of 9,100 feet of Steel Reinforced Poly Ethylene 6 feet in diameter. It will add about 36,160 MWh of electricity to HEA’s supply each year. Completion of that project is scheduled for the summer of next year.
It is encouraging that Alaska, which prides itself on its fossil fuel reserves, is beginning to look to battery storage and renewables to meet the demand for electricity in its future — further proof that lower costs are the best way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for future energy needs.