Serving a small population spread out across a vast rural area in Queensland, electric utility Ergon Energy needs to stretch its budget for electricity transmission. The operator invested in Saft energy storage to meet growing demand and to maintain high quality power.
Ergon Energy deployed a relatively inexpensive single-wire earth return (SWER) system in the 1970s. However, the electricity landscape has fundamentally changed since then.
Australia’s rural population has been plugging in new farming equipment, air conditioning and cooling loads, as well as electronics. As a result, the SWER network has reached its limit, leading to voltage variation on the grid. In turn, this can damage the sensitive electronic devices and computing equipment that are essential to 21st century life.
To meet growing demand from its customers and provide more control over voltage, Ergon Energy invested in 20 Grid Utility Support System (GUSS) units with Saft Intensium® Mini lithium-ion systems at their heart. They provide a cost-effective alternative to upgrading the network.
An essential aspect of the battery technology is that its electrochemistry can operate reliably in the Queensland Outback, where temperatures range from 0 to 45°C.Spencer Millen Saft’s Sales Manager for Asia-Pacific
The skid-mounted units can be deployed far out on the network where they are needed most. They can be installed singly or in pairs to deliver 25 or 50 kVA, depending on Ergon Energy’s requirements, historical data, local knowledge, and power system modeling. The Saft Intensium Mini in each GUSS unit charges up during times of low demand and reinjects power when demand peaks. This enables Ergon Energy to meet peak demand while stabilizing voltage. In addition, the fact they are skid-mounted means they can be transported and deployed where they are needed most.
An essential aspect of the battery technology is that its electrochemistry can operate reliably in the Queensland Outback, where temperatures range from 0 to 45˚C. In addition, rugged mechanical construction supports straightforward transportation.
According to Stephen Richardson, Senior Technology Innovation Engineer at Ergon Energy, GUSS is a benchmark for Australian engineering and raises the standard for best practice energy storage applications: “We have been monitoring the operation of the GUSS units since they entered operation and can report that they are supporting the network as expected. The GUSS project has enabled us to improve the quality of power delivered and to integrate energy storage into our grid.”