Providing microgrid resilience in Alaska
Surrounded by extraordinary ecosystems that combine to form one of the world’s most spectacular natural environments, the small town of Cordova, Alaska, is also host to a thriving wild salmon migration…
As a result, the town’s fish processing industry places highly seasonal electrical loads on the network. To manage these peaks, power utility Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC) has recently installed a Saft lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage system (ESS) into its hydropower microgrid.
The aim is to recover lost hydro generation that currently must be ‘spilled’ during transition periods between hydro-only and combined hydrodiesel generation. This is to create a buffer in case demand spikes suddenly. However, it means sacrificing about 500kW of capacity. In addition, the ESS will reduce reliance on two 1-MW diesel gensets that are powered up in summer to support peak loads and during the winter when the rivers freeze.
Less reliance on fossil fuels
Because the town has no grid connection and is in a remote location, CEC operates under the principles of sustainability, resilience and holistic thinking. With the newly installed ESS – rated at 1 MW with 1 MWh energy storage capacity – the utility’s focus is to maximize use of renewable energy and reduce reliance on costly diesel fuel.
In addition, CEC wanted an installation that could survive the onslaught of the harsh and unforgiving Alaskan climate. Saft’s turnkey solution – which saw the ESS integrated with an ABB power converter and control system – means CEC can rely on operational and performance guarantees. It also meant the utility outsourced the specialist engineering integration and optimization.
Furthermore, both suppliers offered technical solutions and advantages, including high-speed grid controls and a solution that took the form of a modular, shippable package that was preassembled and installed on a plug-and-play basis. This helped to manage the cost premiums that could otherwise arise for projects in remote communities.
Several remote off-grid communities in Alaska have already successfully adopted ESS as a part of their microgrids as they drive to replace expensive diesel generation with renewable wind or solar power.
Saft’s packaged solution allows us to be more resilient and less reliant on fuel deliveries from the outside world. It’s also a logical step in our proposed journey to meet 100 percent of our needs with local hydropower.Clay Koplin CEO of CEC