6 MW Wärtsilä Energy storage system demonstrates phased increase of renewable energy penetration on the island of Bonaire

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The technology group Wärtsilä has commissioned its 6 MW / 6 MWh energy management and storage system project for its customer ContourGlobal Bonaire on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. With Phase One complete, the island no longer has to curtail wind resources. It has nearly doubled renewable energy penetration, and prepared the system for additional capacity to accommodate peak demand during tourist season. ContourGlobal’s entire island grid is managed and operated by Greensmith GEMS advanced software platform.

“A big hurdle for utilities today is figuring out where to begin when it comes to modernising traditional thermal-based systems to allow the integration of more renewable generation assets without compromising reliability,” said Sampo Suvisaari, Regional Director, Latin America North and the Caribbean at Wärtsilä Energy Business. “Bonaire provides a real-time case study for how it can be done in a phased approach.”

The utility’s phased approach allows time for system operators to add new hybrid solutions and spread out costs, and leaves room for new technologies to come online. For Bonaire, Phase One involves GEMS managing an optimising dispatch and operation of existing generation assets. It also provides spinning reserve requirement with energy storage to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Furthermore, Phase One involves unlocking curtailed wind energy and improved system reliability by providing frequency and voltage control. To optimise the system GEMS now factors in real-time asset performance, as well as load and renewable energy forecasts. With Phase One complete, GEMS can balance Bonaire’s resources and seamlessly optimise thermal, wind and energy storage assets.

“During our commissioning tests, several load rejections were tested, including loss of wind, loss of engines and loss of demand, and in every circumstance GEMS instantaneously tracked and maintained the quality of the generation avoiding the load shedding of the grid,” said Giorgio Narminio, Caribbean assets COO of ContourGlobal. “This is just one example of how this project will improve operations through automation while helping the island avoid blackouts, achieve greater efficiencies and use more wind power.”

Commissioning of the project puts Bonaire on the path to achieving its 100% renewable target. This is the beginning of a longer-term plan to fully modernise the island’s system and add additional capacity and renewable energy generation to the grid. ContourGlobal Bonaire commissioned the project after years of seeking solutions to integrate more renewable power into the existing island grid.

The next phases for the Bonaire project will replace outdated thermal technology with five new engines and add more wind and solar to the generation mix. As the island grid increases in size, GEMS will enable further renewable penetration and lower the cost of energy. GEMS machine learning and AI capability will incorporate weather, electricity demand and other variables and data into its forecasting models. This data will inform the automated decisions managing ContourGlobal’s entire fleet.

The contract for the Bonaire project was originally awarded to Wärtsilä on in Q4 2018 and Phase One A took only a few months to complete. Learn more about this project during a Greentech Media webinar on July 30 at 11:00 a.m. PDT or more about Wärtsilä energy storage solutions here.