BY TONY REDDIN
Regarding Summerside's deliberations on investing $23 million for a back-up generator that would only be used a few hours per year (in 2015 Maritime Electric had a similar proposal for a diesel generator in Charlottetown which was rejected as unnecessary and not affordable):
On behalf of ECO-P.E.I., I wish to state that Summerside City Council should reject this proposal and give much more research and consideration to alternatives, especially the expanded use of decentralized battery storage units. There is no immediate urgency to this decision, since Summerside can buy instant-start capacity from New Brunswick Power. The request for proposals should be re-issued and more options should be considered.
Summerside residents who oppose the current proposal should tell their councillors before the next council meeting which will take place Monday, April 16.
Ongoing advancements and quickly-dropping prices in energy storage technology have led to the use of large battery units in electricity systems, such as the one already installed with the solar system at Credit Union Place. Utilities all over the world are now installing and using large-scale battery storage units.
An article in ‘www.mckinsey.com’ states: “average battery-pack costs are down from approximately US$1,000 per kilowatt-hour (KWh) in 2010 to less than US$230 per KWh in 2016.”
(1) According to Jack Simpson, director of generation and capacity planning at Toronto Hydro, battery power storage is now getting cheap enough to make power shifting (back-up) cost-effective, as power authorities create pricing formulas that make cutting peak demand worthwhile.
(2) Summerside utility customers could be encouraged to install battery packs with solar PV systems as emergency back-up for themselves and the utility.
Decentralized neighbourhood battery units could be used for power supply in emergency shelters, and have many other advantages: quick installation; flexibility of purchase options; flexibility of size and location; no exhaust pollution when connected to renewables; decreased vulnerability to power outages; lower infrastructure costs such as transmission lines; as well as benefits for reducing demand and costs at peak and other times; and enhancing the use of wind and solar generation.
Summerside should continue to show its leadership in moving to a clean renewable energy economy, which is so critical if we are to avoid more catastrophic effects from the climate change caused by using fossil fuels.
- Tony Reddin is an energy project co-ordinator for ECO-P.E.I.