ABB-led group to build world’s largest battery storage system

Global power and technology company wins US$ 30 million Alaskan utility contract

Zurich, Switzerland, October 29, 2001 – ABB, the global power and automation technology group, has won an US$ 30 million order from Golden Valley Electric Association Inc (GVEA) in Fairbanks, Alaska, for the supply, installation and project management of the world’s largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

The energy storage system includes a massive nickel-cadmium battery, power conversion modules, metering, protection and control devices and service equipment. It will provide continuous voltage support during normal operation, as well as energy back-up - known as ‘spinning reserve’ - to quickly provide power during system disturbances, minimizing customer interruptions.
“In most electrical systems a demand peak or power failure is generally handled by unused or reserve capacity in a generator that is already spinning, hence the name ‘spinning reserve,” said Richard Siudek, executive vice president and head of ABB’s Utilities division. “But that is expensive to provide in a remote or islanded system like Alaska, which must be self-sufficient and cannot import its power from outside. GVEA has opted for a unique solution in the form of a Battery Energy Storage System which will facilitate a major reduction in the cost for providing spinning reserve on its grid.”

In operation, BESS will produce power for several minutes to cover the time between a system disturbance and when the utility is able to bring back-up generation on line.
GVEA placed the order with an ABB-led consortium which includes Saft AB, the battery company, which will supply a high performance nickel-cadmium storage battery made up of 13,760 energy cells in four strings. The first two battery strings are scheduled for commercial operation during the summer of 2003.

Reliable power is essential in Fairbanks, Alaska where winter temperatures can fall to – 51°C. At those temperatures, water pipes in the average home will freeze in about two hours.

ABB ( is a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering their environmental impact. ABB has 160,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

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