A High-Renewables Tomorrow Today: King Island, Tasmania  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

RMI Outlet has a look at the path towards 100% renewables being trodden by Tasmania's King Island - A High-Renewables Tomorrow Today: King Island, Tasmania.

King Island, and especially greater Tasmania, face many challenges due to climate change including water availability, flooding of coastal settlements, a rise of bushfires, and decreased agriculture and aquaculture industries. Although Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is small—and Tasmania’s even smaller, thanks in part to large amounts of hydro—the island has a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Tasmania is on track to meet that target, thanks in part to lessons learned and the success at King Island. King is providing a significant demonstration of the potential opportunities for Tasmania through its King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP). Initiated by the government-owned electricity provider, Hydro Tasmania, KIREIP’s goal is to not only reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but also to help constrain power prices on the island.

Many islands use diesel to produce electricity. Although inefficient and expensive, it’s more accessible than other forms of fossil fuels for remote locales. Before any renewable energy technologies came to the island, King Island residents were consuming 4.5 million liters of diesel each year. By 2011, mainly through the use of wind turbines, that number was down to 2.6 million liters. KIREIP is hoping to reduce that number to 1.6 million liters, meaning that 65 percent of the annual electricity used on King Island will come from renewables, with shorter durations of 100-percent-renewables power. KIREIP, supported by both Tasmanian and Australian government funding, will use a mix of solar, wind, biodiesel, storage and smart grid technologies to accomplish this goal. ...

One of the most exciting projects in KIREIP is the installation of two diesel-powered rotary uninterruptible power supply (D-UPS) generators. When there is enough wind energy to meet the entire customer demand, the D-UPS switches off all diesel generators. Each D-UPS unit has a large mass flywheel, which uses excess wind energy rather than diesel power to maintain its motion. Without the D-UPS, if the wind generation were to reduce quickly the diesel generators would not be able to switch back on fast enough—resulting in a gap in power generation and a blackout.

The D-UPS—the first time ever being used in an island grid of this size—will allow for periods of 100-percent-renewable-energy penetration on King Island, which it achieved for the first time last month. “Although there are remote area power systems in some parts of the world that are capable of supplying the energy needs of single homes or small villages, this is the first remote system on this scale capable of supplying the power needs of an entire community, including industrial customers and an extensive distribution network, solely through wind and solar energy,” Simon Gamble, KIREIP project director, said in a press release. “Having established that zero diesel operation is possible, we are now looking to increase the duration for which we can operate in this mode.”

To extend those periods of 100-percent-renewable-energy penetration, and because there is often more wind power than can be used, Hydro Tasmania is installing energy storage. Its 3 megawatt/1.6 megawatt-hour UltraBattery storage system, the largest battery ever installed in Australia, will have the capacity to power the entire island for up to 45 minutes. Storing wind energy when there is excess generation and making it available when it is needed to meet demand will help maintain the stability of the power grid.

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