Duke Energy has inaugurated a green microgrid consisting of a 2-MWac solar facility and a 4.4-MW lithium battery storage system in Hot Springs, Madison County, North Carolina.
According to the company, the microgrid will offer a secure, economical and reliable power grid solution for the Hot Springs community, while also offering energy and added benefits to all customers. These include grid stability services, such as the regulation of frequency and voltage, and ramping support and capacity during peak system demands.
Duke Energy partnered with technology company Wärtsilä, which provided the battery energy storage system for the project. The microgrid operates using Wärtsilä’s GEMS Digital Energy Platform for integrated control of both the solar and energy storage facilities.
“Duke Energy has numerous smaller microgrids on our system, but this is our first microgrid that can power an entire small town if its main power line experiences an outage,” said Jason Handley, General Manager of Distributed Energy Group at Duke Energy. “This project has reduced the need for equipment upgrades in an environmentally sensitive area.”
With a population of just over 500, Hot Springs has limited alternative power sources in the event of an outage. During its trial period, Duke Energy’s microgrid successfully supplied the town’s entire energy demand from a blackout, using only the solar and battery energy, while the company collected data.
“We are using lessons learned from this first-of-its-kind installation to take to our other microgrids under construction in Indiana and Florida,” added Handley. “At a larger scale, microgrids bring more resiliency to the energy grid for our customers.”
Duke Energy has more than 60 MW in microgrid and battery storage located within its service areas. In Asheville, NC, it operates a 9-MW lithium-ion battery system at a substation in Rock Hill, near Sweeten Creek Road.