California-based SimpliPhi Power says it scalable energy storage solutions have been deployed in New Zealand by electricity distributor Powerco as part of an off-grid renewable energy unit named Base Power.
Base Power is an all-in-one system designed to bring reliable power to remote Powerco customers as a supplement, or alternative, to electricity supply from the utility grid where upgrading the network and improving supply is not cost-effective. After several years of trialing the units, Powerco has initially approved 20 new units over the next 12 months that are being constructed by local contractor The Downs Group.
Base Power units generate renewable electricity from solar panels, with the excess energy production stored in SimpliPhi PHI 3.4 batteries. A diesel generator is also integrated into the units in the event that prolonged inclement weather prevents solar generation, thereby providing backup power for uninterrupted access 24/7. The units are designed to be transported by helicopter to locations that are difficult to gain access to, making them ideal for both remote and emergency situations in which access to power would be too costly or logistically unfeasible.
“Powerco deserves praise for their disciplined approach to developing an economic model that demonstrated unequivocally the cost-effectiveness and reliability of distributed power assets at the fringes of the grid,” comments SimpliPhi CEO Catherine Von Burg. “The utility calculated that off-grid distributed and renewable assets combined with storage is more cost-effective than extending the reach of the grid by two kilometers, or having to repair the transmission lines of approximately 20 poles. Add to that calculus the environmental benefits of replacing centralized fossil fuel generation, and suddenly the cost benefit analysis overwhelmingly supports the Base Power off-grid units – creating a win-win with better energy security for both the utility and their customers.”
Powerco created Base Power in collaboration with The Downs Group to be simple to operate and maintain. Powerco selected The Downs Group as being responsible for the assembly, installation and ongoing maintenance of the units. Most Base Power units supply power at the same voltage and frequency as the utility grid, creating a seamless experience for Powerco customers.
Notably, some utilities in the U.S., such as Vermont-based Green Mountain Power (GMP), have also embraced off-grid energy storage solutions for remote customers. To learn more about GMP’s storage efforts, check out a May 2017 article from the utility here.