A 300kW/358kWh mtu EnergyPack battery energy storage system from UK manufacturer Rolls-Royce Power Systems is to be installed at the Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) solar center near Alice Springs as part of a move which will transform the solar demonstration installation into a micro-grid.

The battery acquisition is part of the Alice Springs Future Grid project, an initiative to identify and overcome barriers to greater penetration of renewable energy into the Alice Springs electrical system with a view to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030.

The DKA Solar Center is a solar panel test, demonstration and research facility with data sets spanning over 10 years of operation. The facility includes dozens of arrays of solar panels from various manufacturers with electricity generated by the various systems helping to power the operations of the compound.

The solar panels will now be supplemented by a 300kW/358kWh lithium-ion battery system supplied by Penske Australia.

The containerized battery will store the electricity generated by the DKA solar center which can then be fed back into the grid as needed. It will also support key operations of the Desert Knowledge Precinct when it is disconnected from the network and will also provide network support functions.

Lyndon Frearson, director of the Future Grid project, of Alice Springs-based engineering firm Ekistica, which is carrying out the microgrid trial. said the initiative will help the team demonstrate how a commercial microgrid at a multi-tenant site can work when connected and “isolated” from the main grid.

“Since 2008, we have been demonstrating solar technologies from around the world at this site,” he said. “Now we will explore the possibilities offered by supplementing this existing technology with battery capacity.”

Frearson said the BESS acquisition represents the latest major equipment procurement effort for the Future Grid project, which has also installed cloud cameras to aid solar forecasting, and is creating the Northern Territory’s first virtual power station. .

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