AES Energy Storage Proves Itself During Island Hurricanes

Oct. 17, 2017
News continues to emerge about microgrids and energy storage being employed during and after the recent North American hurricanes, most recently in the Dominican Republic.

News continues to emerge about microgrids and energy storage being employed during and after the recent North American hurricanes, most recently in the Dominican Republic.

When the storm season was threatening, the Dominican grid operator asked power services company AES Dominicana to keep two 10-MW of energy storage units operating to ensure grid reliability.

The energy storage arrays performed more than double the normal amount of work during Irma and Maria, category 3 and 4 hurricanes, according to AES. Even as nearly 40 and 55 percent of the island’s power plants were forced offline, the energy storage units helped keep the Dominican grid operating.

“AES Dominicana’s energy storage arrays enhanced the Dominican grid during a most trying time, helping keep vital power resources online,” said John Zahurancik, president of AES Energy Storage. “Not only does energy storage improve reliability of the grid on a daily basis, this experience demonstrates how it can add to overall resilience under extreme conditions.”

Used instead of the thermal power plants to maintain frequency, the energy storage system provides fast-response, critical reliability services that would otherwise be performed by a traditional thermal power plant three times the size.

By adding energy storage to existing thermal power plants to maintain frequency, the Dominican grid operator can enable the power plants on the island to run at their most efficient generating level while the battery systems absorb and discharge energy on the grid as needed.

Separately, such companies as Tesla, sonnen and others are delivering microgrids, solar panels and batteries to bring post-storm relief to hard-hit Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have been collaborating on bolstering Puerto Rico’s grid with batteries, solar panels and microgrids, after Hurricane Maria left most of the island without power on September 20.  As of Monday, October 16,  86 percent of Puerto Rico remained without grid power.

Meanwhile, German manufacturer sonnen announced earlier this month  that it is launching an effort to bring microgrids to Puerto Rico. Together with island partner Pura Energia, sonnen will focus on areas where a stable microgrid will make a significant impact on a local community. sonnen said it will subsidize the cost of Pura Energia installing the battery units and the solar array microgrid components. The partnership hopes to bring its first operating microgrid to Puerto Rico in less than a month.

Several other microgrid, solar and battery companies have reported plans to help out the island, including distributed wind energy providers.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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