ABB helps strengthen power supply in Alaska

The world’s largest battery energy storage system, which uses ABB technology, has begun commercial operation in Alaska. The US$ 30 million dollar system is expected to cut power blackouts by more than 60 percent.

“ABB’s high-end power technology is increasing grid reliability and the availability of power in a remote area,” said Peter Smits, head of ABB’s Power Technologies division. “The recent power failures in the United States and Canada show how important such back-up power supplies are.”

The battery energy system, includes a specially-sealed nickel cadmium battery, and is run by Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), a cooperative serving the Fairbanks area of Alaska. ABB has supplied a power conversion system, metering, protection and control devices, and service equipment.

ABB’s high standards

"ABB has set a very high standard for this project. Cleanliness and attention to detail are very important when dealing with the most powerful battery in the world," says Tim DeVries, GVEA manager of engineering services.

The dedication ceremony: Jim McDowall (Saft), Jack Dwyer and Niklaus Umbricht (ABB), Steve Haagenson, GVEA
In an area where outside temperatures can slip to -51°Centigrade, ensuring a reliable supply of electric energy is essential.

“We enjoy taking on relatively unique electrically-based projects. The BESS project is one of these undertakings,” Jack Dwyer, ABB senior vice president of marketing and sales for the U.S., told a dedication ceremony in Alaska on Tuesday.

“This is a project involving mature technology which clearly exists in the world. What it needed was to be “packaged” by a contractor who understands the technology as well as the needs of the customer and the community, and also has experience with similar global projects.”

Energy back-up during disturbances

The battery will provide continuous voltage support during normal operation, as well as immediate energy back-up during system disturbances.

The energy storage system’s 13,760 energy cells, with all four strings operational, are able to feed the power grid in an emergency with 40 MW of power for 6-7 minutes, or 27 MW of power for 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes is long enough to cover the time between a system disturbances and diesel-powered back- up generators being online.

The battery, which is larger than a soccer field, is being entered for the Guinness Book of Records.

The battery, which is manufactured from recycled cadmium by the Saft battery production company, is safe, reliable and will be recycled again at the end of its 20-year life cycle.

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    The battery energy storage system will consist of 13,760 battery cells

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