Southeast Salem has a new backup power supply, and it is a really, really large battery. Let me rephrase, there’s 5 MW Li-Ion battery providing backup to over 500 customers who are a part of the pilot program.
The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a five-state wide public-private partnership involving 17 organizations all working on a solution to provide backup power in case of an outage. So where did the team find their solution? In a gigantic 5 MW lithium-ion battery (yep, the same one powering your laptop or perhaps even the Smartphone on which you’re reading this).
This Portland General Electric developed $23 million backup system aims to provide uninterrupted power to the 500 customers in Southeast Salem. The battery bank is stored in an 8,000 square foot facility and can pull energy from renewable sources, such as the 616 solar panels on the roof of the local Salem Kettle Chips factory.
Geoffrey Harvey of the Pacific Northwest National Lab explains the new Transactive system of power control used by the microgrid to communicate with larger power grids:
The energy storage system will respond to regional grid conditions with the help of a key aspect of the demonstration called Transactive control. Transactive control is based on technology from DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle. The technology helps power producers and users decide how much of the area’s power will be consumed, when and where. This is done when producers and users automatically respond to signals representing future power costs and planned energy consumption. The cost signals originate at Battelle’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center in Richland, Wash. They are updated every five minutes and sent to the project’s participating utilities, including PGE.
The automated signals allow project participants to make local decisions on how their piece of the smart grid project can support local and regional grid needs. Participants are now gathering data to measure how the signal can help deliver electricity more effectively, help better integrate wind power onto the power grid and more. The Salem battery will use the signal to coordinate its charge and discharge cycles with the power grid’s supply and demand.
The pilot project will end in 2015, after which it will be evaluated for evaluated for “its potential to enhance reliability for customers and relieve energy demand.” Such a micro power grid can really save the day by providing backup power even under the event of catastrophic events such as hurricanes (in which case the main grid would have snapped).