Friday 14 May 2010

Improved electric grid in Chile

AES Energy Storage has commissioned a 12MW frequency regulation and spinning reserve project at AES’ Los Andes substation in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Combining an inverter and control system provided by the SSD Drives Division of Parker Hannifin with a lithium ion battery system from A123 Systems, the project will improve the reliability of the electric grid in Northern Chile.

System operators need effective frequency regulation and spinning reserve to help them manage fluctuations in demand for power. One of the biggest challenges in electric grid management is that the amount of power generated and the amount consumed must be in exact balance at all times. When imbalances occur, the frequency of electricity (50/60Hz) required by users is not maintained, resulting in grid instability. Effective frequency regulation keeps the grid in balance.

Alongside frequency regulation, the spinning reserve is the extra generating capacity available immediately to meet peaks in demand or to cope with disruptions in supply such as when a generator goes down.

The newly commissioned Los Andes substation combines Parker SSD inverter drives in the power conversion section with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, all housed in climate controlled containers. Alternating containers of batteries and inverters make up the total 12MW system, with each inverter container housing 2MW of capacity. The system represents the largest of several projects that have used Parker Hannifin power conversion equipment in utility scale installations.

The technology delivers frequency regulation in a less expensive, more responsive and more accurate method than either the traditional alternatives of pumped hydro and compressed air, or the emerging flywheel energy storage technology which is being trialed for electricity grid applications. The solid state system installed at Los Andes offers the advantages of high efficiency, high speed of response and minimal maintenance. In addition, because the project frees up spinning reserve and replaces unpaid reserve from the power plant, AES can receive payment for its full output capacity by selling directly to the national grid.

The project was officially put into commercial operation on 16 November 2009, with a ribbon cutting ceremony that included Marcelo Tokman, Chilean Minister of Energy. And further upgrades are planned for other substations: a 20MW power station upgrade in 2010 will free up 5-10% spinning reserve to be sold to the national grid, while a 100MW upgrade within the next three years will free up a further 5-10% spinning reserve to be sold to the grid and provide connection of regional grid power systems in Northern, Central and Southern Chile.

This is Parker’s first project with AES Energy Storage outside the U.S. and is also the first lithium-ion battery system to be deployed to the electric grid in Chile. In 2008 a Parker SSD system was used on a 1 MW Ancillary Services unit in the Northeast. Earlier this year a system was provided for a 2 MW Hybrid-APU at one of AES’ Southern California power plants to help meet reserve requirements.

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