Energy storage technology designed in Australia’s top end is set to be used in two remote locations on opposite sides of the globe – the edge of a desert in northern Kenya, and outback Western Australia – to stabilise energy generation from wind and solar sources and minimise the use of diesel fuel.
The flywheel-based microgrid stabilisation technology, developed by ABB engineers in Darwin, is set to be installed at the Marsabit wind farm in northern Kenya, after it was ordered by the development’s owners, Socabelec East Africa.
ABB’s technology is designed to enable very high levels of wind and solar power penetration on isolated, diesel-powered grids, to ensure utility-grade power quality and grid stability, while reducing dependency on costly and polluting fossil fuels.
Marsabit, described as an oasis at the edge of the desert in a windy area of northern Kenya, is a population of 5,000 served by an isolated microgrid, whose electricity is currently supplied by diesel fuel and two 275kW wind turbines.
Kenya is trying to get most of its 50 million citizens connected to the grid and plans major investments in energy, mostly in renewables.
ABB’s containerized, 500kW PowerStore system will be integrated into the existing power microgrid, with the aim of maximising wind energy penetration by stabilising the grid connection and using any excess wind energy generated. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016.
Back in Australia, Energy Matters reports that the PowerStore technology has been successfully installed at two separate locations in WA, Marble Bar and Nullagine, to maximise solar power generation and minimise the use of diesel generators.
On these projects, ABB worked with Horizon Power and SunPower Australia to install the power stations, each consisting of four 320kW diesel generators and a 300kW solar array with 2,000 solar modules installed on a single axis solar tracking system.
The fly-wheel based PowerStores – which can hold 18MWs of energy and shift from full absorption to full injection in 1 millisecond – will help stabilise the systems; protecting against fluctuations in frequency and voltage.
According to ABB, the hybrid microgrid power solution is now supplying Marble Bar and Nullagine nearly 60 per cent of their electricity through solar generation, and saving around 400,000 litres of diesel fuel annually.
ABB’s president of the company’s power systems division, Claudio Facchin, says sustainable development of Africa and fostering microgrid solutions are both key focus areas in ABB’s Next Level strategy.
“Our microgrid technology solutions can significantly boost renewable integration and can play a key role in helping isolated and remote communities to gain access to clean electricity as in this case,” he said.