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KIREIP reaches renewable energy milestone
Hydro Tasmania has reached a major milestone for its King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP), achieving a sustained period of zero diesel operation.
KIREIP brings together a portfolio of new and existing technologies to increase renewable energy use on King Island and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It is a demonstration project that has potential application internationally for remote and off-grid renewable energy supply.
“The aim of KIREIP is to reduce diesel consumption for power generation on King Island by more than 65 per cent and provide for the ability to generate all of the island’s power needs using renewable energy when conditions allow,” said Project Director Simon Gamble.
“Achieving 100 per cent renewable energy penetration in large off-grid systems has remained elusive until now, and is very difficult to achieve given the need to maintain reliability and security of power supply under highly variable wind and solar conditions.”
Until now, operation of diesel engines has always been required to provide backup to the renewable system. Hydro Tasmania’s hybrid system provides backup through technologies that do not burn diesel fuel, allowing for the diesels to be turned off (zero diesel operation) and greater fuel savings.
This month Hydro Tasmania achieved for the first time sustained periods of 100 per cent renewable energy penetration on King Island, supported by the use of its enabling technologies. The project team expects that zero diesel operation will now occur for extended periods overnight when customer demand is lowest, and in daylight hours under high wind conditions.
To achieve this world-leading result Hydro Tasmania has used its own advanced automated control systems and dynamic resistor technology coupled with a standard flywheel uninterruptible power supply system, commonly used in hospitals and telephone exchanges. This enables all diesel generation to be switched off when there is sufficient wind and solar power to meet customer demand. The transition from diesel power station to 100 per cent renewables, and back again when and as required, is entirely automated and allows the station to achieve significant diesel savings while operating unstaffed.
“Hydro Tasmania’s integrated solution ensures that rapid and unpredictable changes in sun or wind conditions don’t cause interruptions to power supply – even when these are the only source of generation available.
“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.”
“Having established that zero diesel operation is possible, we are now looking to increase the duration for which we can operate in this mode,” Mr Gamble said.
“Later this year we expect to enhance performance further, through the use of customer load control and energy storage. This will help maintain a stable power system in the absence of diesel generation even during the inevitable lulls in wind or solar conditions.”
Hydro Tasmania is seeking to commercialise its off-grid energy solutions and export these to customers in Australia, and in due course to the Pacific and the South East Asia region.
“KIREIP demonstrates the important role that renewable energy can play in displacing high-cost, emission-intensive fossil fuels from the off-grid sector,” Mr Gamble said.
“Diesel fuel remains the single largest expense in these remote systems and using renewable energy makes good economic sense.”
KIREIP is an initiative of Hydro Tasmania and is being developed with the assistance of the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Demonstration Program and the Tasmanian Government.
For more information contact Samantha Meyer on +61 3 6230 5746