Smart Grid to manage variability of very high levels of wind and solar power
Another project is taking place in Hawaii to enable very high renewable energy penetrations on the island of Maui. Our team at GE Global Research and GE’s Transmission & Distribution business will be working with the Maui Electric Company to deploy smart grid technologies at a substation on the island to reduce peak load, enable higher penetrations of renewable energy, and improve the grid’s reliability and performance. This project will allow Maui Electric to optimally control loads in some of the residential homes and dispatch energy storage in the distribution system to address sudden fluctuations in wind power and to respond to power requests from the system operators. Smart grid technologies from GE will help Maui manage the variability of wind and solar energy sources. The program includes the deployment of a battery energy storage system that can be charged during times of excess wind energy production and be discharged via smart grid automation technologies when energy demand exceeds supply. Smart grid technologies will also enable the Maui Electric Company to explore how reduction in consumer energy “load” (or demand) might help the utility manage variations in renewable energy production. For example, consumers may “opt-in” to utility programs that automatically adjust high energy consuming devices, such water heaters, during periods of peak demand and higher electricity prices. These technologies will help the island increase its renewable energy generation by providing better control over distributed resources such as energy storage and residential loads.
Our team of engineers, researchers, and utility operators and planners are working together to help Hawaii reduce its energy costs, reduce its dependence on imported oil and reduce its carbon footprint by taking steps towards a smarter grid that can accept unprecedented levels of wind and solar energy. As the world transitions to a more affordable, sustainable and secure energy system, these projects in Hawaii will help GE identify the most relevant technologies for enabling significant penetrations of wind and solar power around the world.