Utility-scale battery system goes into service at Campbell Industrial Park

Two-year demo to determine how storage can smooth journey to 100% renewables

Release Date: 9/23/2016

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HONOLULU, Sept. 23, 2016 – Hawaiian Electric Company has placed into service its first utility-scale Battery Energy Storage System or BESS, on Oahu -- a one-megawatt battery located at the Campbell Industrial Park generating station. The BESS is a joint demonstration project by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric, with funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

The demonstration project will continue for two years, with a possible extension, to determine the battery's safety, operating characteristics, and its effectiveness in helping to integrate more renewable energy on a circuit that already has a high level of solar.

"To achieve our 100 percent renewable energy goal, we need to be able to smooth power flowing to the grid from variable renewable generation like wind and solar as well as shift electricity generated when the sun is shining to when people use the most electricity in the evening," said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president for corporate planning and business development. "We are working on these capabilities both with larger, utility-scale systems like the BESS units and with ‘behind-the-meter' batteries at business and residential customer sites, all working in unison to make clean power work."

The centerpiece of the BESS project is an Altairnano one megawatt/250 kilowatt-hour BESS which is housed in a large shipping container. The BESS is comprised of batteries that store the 250-kWh of energy and a corresponding inverter that changes DC to AC electricity so the battery can export up to one megawatt of power to the grid. The quick-responding battery can go from zero to full power output in a fraction of a second and provide 250 kilowatts of power for one hour or one megawatt for 15 minutes.

Also being tested are control algorithms that may be used in even larger batteries for power smoothing, voltage regulation and frequency response -- all key factors in maintaining reliable service for customers with steady, quality power.

Other company battery storage projects in service

Working with Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Hawaiian Electric Companies have a similar BESS project in operation on Hawai‘i Island focused on wind smoothing and frequency regulation. Another has been installed at Maui Electric Company's Palaau Power Plant on Molokai and is being tested to provide backup and stability for the island's electric grid while providing an opportunity for HNEI to test its use.

"Battery storage systems can provide many different services to both customers and the utility, however, the systems need to be told what to do and how to do it to provide the most value while maximizing the life span of the system," said Richard Rocheleau, director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. "These projects will test different control strategies on different islands for different power system issues and provide information to Hawaii and the industry on the tradeoffs between performance and longevity. This will help to get the most out of larger systems that are being planned to help meet Hawaii's renewable energy goals."

The BESS projects are among half a dozen energy storage demonstrations and pilot projects underway across the Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories.