Fairbanks is a remote city in the remote state of Alaska. The electricity of this city, along with other regions in interior of Alaska, is separate from the contiguous power grid of the US. Coal and oil are commonly used to produce electricity for the local population and power outages are quite frequent. However this weekend, Fairbanks will celebrate the 13th anniversary of the first time that BESS – Battery Energy Storage System was powered up.
BESS weighs about 1,500 tons and is larger than a football field in size and was built to ensure no more power outages occur. If the power supply from any distant oil plant or coal plant is interrupted, BESS powers the area till local power plants can take over.
BESS provides power for 7 minutes and functions on spinning reserve bridging up primary power with backup power seamlessly. This is important because of severe winters in Fairbanks and when temperature falls to -50°F, an outage can be highly dangerous. It has been reported that BESS has prevented 2-9 outages every year since last 13 years and although outages are not eliminated completely but have been greatly reduced. This means greater grid stability for Alaska.
BESS, the world’s largest battery is made up of 13,760 nickel-cadmium cells. Every cell weighs 165 lbs and is the size of a PC desktop. The life of an individual battery is about 20-30 years.
Grid destabilization is an emerging threat that needs to be tackled soon. Regional and local battery banks like BESS and household battery packs can help solve this problem for good.