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Belco launches battery energy storage system

Belco held an official launch ceremony for its new Battery Energy Storage System, which the company believes will cut fuel and maintenance costs by $2 million a year.

The huge lithium batteries at the heart of the Bess provide Belco with reserve capacity and will kick in within 50 milliseconds of a problem with the generated power supply.

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, and Jean Nikolai, the Director of Energy, were on hand to cut the ribbon yesterday.

Dennis Pimentel, president of Belco, said Bess was part of the utility's $200 million-plus capital plan “that has one overriding objective — to better serve our customers with safe, efficient and cost-effective electricity”.

Mr Pimentel added: “We have several ongoing projects to achieve that goal, and with the completion of this battery storage system, the company will save approximately $2 million per year.

“Within a few short years this investment will be paid for and our customers will benefit from reduced operating costs at our plant.

“We continue to make great progress building the new North Power Station with four new 14-megawatt engines being delivered this week.

“AMI [advanced metering infrastructure] meters are being installed across the island and we have launched a new and improved website that allows customers to monitor their electricity usage.

“All these projects are geared towards building the foundation for the next era of Belco which will leverage technology to provide a much-improved service to our customers.”

The Bess will provide reserve capacity, in lieu of spinning reserve. Spinning reserve is the reserve capacity that must always be available to feed into the grid to help maintain Belco's power-generating system stability during emergency operating conditions and unforeseen load swings.

Reserve capacity has traditionally been provided by running engines that are not adding power to the grid, but can do so at a moment's notice. The Bess will store up to ten megawatts of power that can be discharged for up to 30 minutes. The batteries used in the Bess have a 20-year life span and can be recycled at the end of their useful life.

Stephanie Simons, Belco mechanical engineer, said: “Having worked on this concept since 2012 and this specific project since 2017, I'm thrilled that the Bess is now up and running. We completed successful commissioning of the system in March and the system has been operating as intended since then.

“Utilising battery energy storage systems on a utility scale is still relatively new for power companies. This system is one of the first of its kind in the Caribbean and innovations like the Bess make Bermuda's entire electrical network more robust and reliable.”

Mr Roban said: “We are encouraged by Belco's Bess initiative that aligns with the ministry's goal to create a more energy-efficient environment in Bermuda. We are hopeful for the continued strides being made towards cutting costs for consumers and promoting renewable energy on our island.”

Step forward: Stephanie Simons, chartered mechanical engineer at Belco, and Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, cut the ribbon to launch the utility's new battery energy storage system (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 21, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 21, 2019 at 9:09 am)

Belco launches battery energy storage system

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