Atlantic island deploys technology to green its microgrid

2013-12-04 - Faial, one of the Azores islands in the mid-Atlantic ocean, has deployed software that will allow it to meet its goal of generating 75 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2018 without destabilizing the network.

Photo credit: Luis Paulo Oliveira


The ABB microgrid control solution has integrated renewable energy from five new wind turbines installed by the local utility, Electricidade dos Açores (EDA). Although the turbines generate just 4.3 megawatts (MW), this represents a huge 25 percent increase in generation capacity, and EDA plans to increase this further.

The unpredictability and intermittency of wind power can destabilize the grid through frequency and voltage fluctuations; in extreme cases this can lead to brownouts and blackouts. As a result, careful integration of the wind farm into the power network requires specialist expertise and advanced technologies.

Like all the islands in the Azores, Faial has its own power system, which operates as a self-contained microgrid. Before the turbines were installed, the island’s electricity was generated by six oil-fired generators, relying entirely on imported oil, to produce up to 17 MW of electric power for the 15,000 inhabitants.

EDA selected ABB to provide a solution that would maximize the use of wind energy and automate the fossil fuel plants. In operation since August, the system has helped reduce generator fuel consumption by an estimated 3.5 million liters a year and carbon dioxide emissions by an annual 9,400 tons.

Modular and scalable
The solution is based on ABB’s Microgrid Plus – a modular and scalable control solution. On Faial, the solution controls and monitors all the wind turbines and oil-fired generators on the island, calculates the most economical configuration, ensures balance between supply and demand, maximizes the system’s use of wind power, and – crucially - optimizes the generators so that the entire system performs at the peak of its potential.

Faial is the third most populous of the nine islands of the Azores, which are grouped in three small clusters over a distance of 600 km, midway between Europe and North America.

ABB has a long history of working with EDA in the Azores, and has supplied solutions to integrate renewable energy into the diesel-based power systems of the islands of Flores and Graciosa. Both solutions are based on ABB’s PowerStore™ grid stabilization system and previous generations of the Microgrid Plus platform. The solutions have proved highly successful and have helped EDA to achieve substantial fuel savings and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

ABB has a complete offering for the integration of renewable energy into remote or isolated fossil-fueled microgrids. The solutions enable 100 percent penetration of renewables, while stabilizing the grid and controlling and optimizing the power flow.




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