The world`s first high penetration, photovoltaic-diesel power stations have been successfully operating in the towns of Marble Bar and Nullagine in Western Australia since 2010.
Historically, the towns generate their own electric power in diesel power plants and distribute it via local micro grids. In both towns, the existing diesel plants dated back to the early 1970s and were no longer compliant with regulations.
In 2010 the plants were replaced by the local power network operator with photovoltaic-diesel hybrids, which included integration, stabilization and control technologies provided by Powercorp, a company that was acquired by ABB in 2011.
The solution comprises PowerStore grid-stabilizing technology and a specially designed distributed control system. When the sun is shining the solution can provide up to 100 percent peak penetration of solar energy into the power network by lowering diesel generation to the minimum load requirements of the generators. When the sun is obscured, the solution covers the loss of solar energy by ramping up diesel generation, thereby ensuring uninterrupted energy supply.
PowerStore is a flywheel-based, short-term energy storage system that includes state-of-the-art inverters and virtual generator control software. It is designed to achieve up to 100 percent integration of intermittent and often erratic renewable generation into micro grids. Without Powerstore grid stabilizing technology, the instantaneous penetration of renewable energy is limited to about 30 percent of the total system load before the renewable component starts to destabilize it. In micro grid networks, this is a frequently experienced problem.
Each of the new solar-diesel hybrids at the two towns generates more than 1 GWh of renewable energy a year, supplying 60 percent of the town’s annual energy, saving 405,000 liters of fuel and displacing 1,100 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.