Reducing electric power generation costs and emissions

2013-07-11 - At the highest solar power plant in Indonesia, ABB’s PCS100 Energy Storage System (ESS) has radically changed community life.

By ABB Communications

There are many communities around the world living in geographical isolation, from inaccessible mountain ranges to small and remote islands, which prevents them from accessing the power grid. These communities often obtain their electric power from one or more diesel generators, offering them the flexibility of a quick start-up and the ability to meet rapidly fluctuating demand.

One such community is the regency of Pegunungan Bintang, found at Oksibil three thousand feet above sea level, in the Pegunungan Tengah territory of the Indonesian province of Papua.

Here, a single diesel power plant operated in ‘island mode’ provided electricity to the community, but at a significantly higher cost than was possible for those communities connected to the power grid. This was due in part to relatively high fuel prices, made worse by soaring air transportation costs (the only means by which to import fuel to the region) and the small size of the community, which prevented them from taking advantage of economies of scale.

To help reduce the costs, PT PLN (Persero), a government-owned electricity company has built an off-grid solar power plant with 1,280 solar modules capable of generating 300 kW of electric power. ABB’s part in this project was to provide an energy storage system (ESS) that would store the excess electricity generated by day and distribute it at night or whenever required.

“By using clean renewable solar energy in preference to diesel, this simple yet reliable system has significantly reduced power generation costs and emissions in Oksibil,” said Ferdinand Sibarani ABB’s Power Electronics sales engineer. “The system converts direct current voltage from the photovoltaic modules into alternating current for distribution and switches automatically to battery storage when excess electric power is produced.”

Such energy storage systems are able to stabilize renewable power supplies and provide a high return on investment. The system at Oksibil, Papua, Indonesia has been fully operational since October 2012, providing high-quality power in terms of voltage, frequency, and harmonic content to the regency.

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