AES combines advanced battery-based energy storage with a traditional power plant

AES Gener and AES Energy Storage announced the commercial operation of the second energy storage project in Northern Chile, integrating 20MW of advanced battery-based energy storage with a 544MW thermal power plant.

The project is owned by AES Gener, the second largest power generator in the country, and will operate through its subsidiary, Empresa Eléctrica Angamos S.A. (Angamos). AES Energy Storage, a leader in energy storage partnerships, marks another commercial project to employ the company’s advanced reserves product.

This project builds on the success of an initial partnership between the two companies, both subsidiaries of the AES Corporation, to develop a 12MW energy storage system integrated with AES Gener’s Norgener power plant. Located at an electrical substation 172 kilometers from Antofagasta, Chile, the Los Andes Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) has been delivering a similar reliability service since 2009.

“As one of the largest power generators in Chile, we’re consistently looking for ways to unlock value of our existing plants while maintaining grid reliability and flexibility,” said Felipe Ceron, CEO of AES Gener. “Since 2009, we’ve been working with AES Energy Storage to free up generating capacity at our Norgener plant by employing a battery-based installation to meet the power system’s obligations for spinning reserve. That project has been in commercial operation for nearly three years, and we’re now applying the service on a larger scale with Angamos.”

Much like a hybrid electric vehicle incorporates a battery component to improve efficiency; combining battery storage with a traditional power plant allows the plant to more effectively use its own generated power while continuing to provide essential spinning reserve services. The advanced reserve capacity provided by the storage technology will enable the Angamos plant to generate an additional 20MW of energy at virtually all times throughout the year, which would otherwise be tied up to maintain the plant’s grid reliability responsibilities in the case of unexpected transmission loss, the failure of a power generator, or another accident that might otherwise necessitate reduced power to customers. As a result, this newly available energy will increase power generation from the Angamos plant by 4 percent.

“The Angamos BESS is a great example of how our advanced reserves product helps utilities and power companies to get even more out of their critical assets,” said Chris Shelton, President of AES Energy Storage. “This new unit will allow Northern Chile to improve grid reliability, increase energy efficiency, and create a more sustainable power system.”

Designed, built and operational in just fifteen months, the energy storage system provides superior speed and response to any system reliability event such as loss of transmission, or loss of a power generator. Fast response enables the power system operator to maintain and restore the grid with less shedding of load from customers or other disruptive actions. In 2011, the first 12MW project in Los Andes was noted by the region’s grid operator, CDEC-SING, as one of the best performing reserve units in Northern Chile.

AES Energy Storage worked with AES Gener throughout the design, development, and installation of the Angamos BESS. AES Energy Storage worked with CDEC-SING, AES Gener and its partners to configure the parameters of the advanced reserves product enabling the Angamos BESS to meet the performance requirements of the electrical system operator and respond autonomously within established parameters. The advanced reserves product also features system monitoring, SCADA and integration with other operational systems to ensure product performance and high reliability.

The Angamos BESS is comprised of approximately one million advanced lithium-ion battery cells, divided between ten 2MW battery containers, and five 4MW power controls containers. A123 Systems supplied the energy storage systems for the project. The power controls modules were provided by ABB.