18 November 2019 - Dr Alistair Davidson

In the eye of the storm: keeping islands connected

In the eye of the storm: keeping islands connected

We frequently hear about the essential part batteries play in supporting national electricity grids through frequency regulation or backing up large-scale telecoms and data centers.

However, the role of batteries - and in particular advanced lead batteries in island microgrids is becoming increasingly significant. 

CBI will be attending EASE’s ‘Energy Storage on Islands’ workshop this month, and we’re looking forward to showcasing the essential role advanced lead batteries play in delivering this vital function across the globe.

IEEE Spectrum’s recent feature on the effects of hurricanes on Puerto Rico covered the devastating impact on the island’s electricity access. All 1.5 million customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority lost electricity, and it was six months before they were re-connected.

IEEE Spectrum investigates how community microgrids, rooftop solar and battery storage could assist Puerto Rico, and indeed many other island populations, in the event of extreme weather events.

Puerto Rico relies on 70% of its fossil-fuel generated electricity coming from the south coast, while 70% of demand is in the north, meaning vulnerable transmission lines run across the mountainous interior. Hurricanes wreak havoc on this system, and that’s where microgrids combined with battery storage make the difference securing power supplies.

Puerto Rico is not an isolated case. Advanced lead batteries are integral to many island and remote communities’ ability to access reliable and affordable energy. Community microgrids, where a small electrical network combining energy generation and battery storage, are powered by lead batteries worldwide. Microgrids allow disconnection from the main grid in times of outages, thereby ensuring reliable electricity.

As the most cost-effective battery technology at $100/kWh, with high reliability and technical performance, advanced lead batteries offer an ideal option for island communities facing unstable or unreliable electricity grid access.

Our case studies page highlights this exact role for islands across the world, from Scotland’s Fair Isle and Isle of Muck, to the tropical island of Lifuka, Tonga.

By Dr Alistair Davidson

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