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BC Hydro and Power Authority: Building Canada’s first battery energy storage facility

An economic performance case study from the 2014 Sustainable Electricity Annual Report, Engaged for a Sustainable Future.

 

Located entirely within remote Yoho National Park, the small town of Field, British Columbia, receives its power from a radial distribution line originating in Golden, some 55 kilometres away. Outages are frequent, and because the line runs along rugged mountainous and heavily forested terrain, it can be challenging for crews to access the line to locate faults and restore service, causing significant reliability issues for the town.

 

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A view of the exterior of BC Hydro’s Field energy storage facility. Photo courtesy of BC Hydro and Power Authority.

 

Ensuring a reliable supply of clean electricity

With funding support from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy Fund, BC Hydro built a state-of-the-art battery energy storage facility for Field. The first of its kind in Canada, the new facility, which went online in July 2013, stores clean energy produced by renewable energy sources. That energy can then be discharged to help meet Field’s electricity needs for up to seven hours in the event of a power outage. During a number of outages, the battery has exceeded seven hours and provided back-up for longer periods.

 

The energy storage facility is already providing numerous benefits. In the first six months of operation, eight power disruptions occurred, stemming from scheduled work as well as motor vehicle accidents, fallen trees and broken power poles. Each time, the storage facility made sure Field’s residents and businesses were not affected, supplying the town with a total of 53.5 hours of back-up battery power.

 

Providing additional economic and environmental benefits

In addition to ensuring continuation of service, the energy storage facility is also reducing the need for more costly and environmentally-unfriendly back-up options such as diesel generation. The facility also allows the battery to discharge at times of high demand to reduce peak load and stress on the system. From an operational perspective, it also provides BC Hydro with additional time for field crews to safely respond to and resolve unplanned outages.

 

Finally, the project is a critical step toward the larger-scale integration of energy storage into the electricity grid, allowing BC Hydro and other utilities to gain extensive knowledge that can be applied to the future storage of electricity generated from intermittent and renewable sources of energy.

 

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Trevor Wareham, BC Hydro Electrician Sub-foreman, and Vlad Kositsky, BC Hydro Project Manager, inspect one of four banks of sodium-sulphur battery modules. These four banks of battery modules, linked together, create the one megawatt capacity. Photo courtesy of BC Hydro and Power Authority.

Improving the system moving forward

While the battery energy storage facility is operational, the project is not yet complete. BC Hydro is now turning its attention to community engagement and education, providing residents with information about energy conservation that will help extend the life of the battery back-up during outages. BC Hydro has also introduced voluntary alerts to notify Field customers when they are on battery power to further promote conservation and prolong back-up capability.

 

 
Use the menu at the right to read more member success stories and case studies from the 2014 Sustainable Electricity Annual Report, Engaged for a Sustainable Future, or get the PDF here.