Using batteries to store tomorrow’s energy

The development of a society is closely tied to its energy supply. Consider the Industrial Revolution, where the advent of energy sources such as coal, gas and petroleum changed everything. There is no doubt that the way of life in industrialized countries has undergone radical changes since then, and we have also become increasingly aware of the environment and the potential impacts of our energy choices. In this time of climate crisis, we must acknowledge the need to transition to sustainable development and renewable energy sources in order to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Moreover, the current worldwide energy crisis, brought about by an increase in global energy demand (increasing population, the energy transition from fossil fuels to electricity, etc.), along with inflation and supply chain issues, are all part of the backdrop that accentuates the need for accelerated energy transition. In addition, a BloombergNEF report published in early August 2022 estimates the value of investments in the renewable energy sector since the beginning of the year at 226 billion USD, including 120 B USD in solar projects and 84 B USD in wind energy, representing year-over-year increases of 33% and 16%, respectively.[1]

There is a tangible potential for reducing the global carbon footprint. However, supply fluctuations in various renewable energy sources represent a major challenge to achieving the energy transition. In fact, the use of renewable energy sources such as wind or solar to generate electricity is accompanied by a good deal of instability, variability and intermittency, along with all of the related challenges. What happens on cloudy days or when the wind isn’t blowing? Energy must be available when we want it, and that is exactly when the magic of battery-based energy storage comes into play. Battery-based energy storage systems make it possible to even out these fluctuations by storing the energy produced in a system of batteries for future consumption. This approach facilitates greater energy efficiency, because nothing is lost, nothing is created and everything is converted – at just the right time.

Our achievements

At CIMA+, we are positioning ourselves as a leader in this field, having successfully executed three major projects, along with others, including the first industrial storage system in the Ottawa region. For this project, the experts at CIMA+ were hired by PCL Constructors Canada Inc. as consultants during the design and construction of a battery-based energy storage system for its client, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. The objective of this project was to meet demand on the grid, which was accomplished by installing two 2-MW inverters and 68 banks of batteries with a total capacity of 4 MW/2.76 MWh, interconnected with Ottawa Hydro’s Ellwood substation. This inaugural industrial storage system is controlled by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Over the course of the project, the experts at CIMA+ had to overcome a number of difficulties, including completing the initial design that was started by another company, incorporating a different battery technology into an existing building, reducing the default DC currents to levels that are compatible with commercial components and incorporating a high-performance HVAC system. All in all, this battery-based energy storage system is a noteworthy technological advance for the Ottawa region.

A second project that enables CIMA+ to stand apart entails improving the energy consumption profile of an existing Ottawa Hydro building by incorporating one of the first battery-based energy storage systems in the Ottawa region. The project involves a 600-V interconnected building with a total system capacity of 150 kW/50 kWh. For this project, the CIMA+ team had to draw on its expertise to install a control panel and supplementary electrical panel in an existing electrical room and install an insulation system that is capable of handling a limited quantity of stored energy. This will allow Ottawa Hydro to collect valuable operational data and improve the energy consumption profile of its building. According to Engineer Jean-François Veilleux: “Contributing to the energy transition is very motivating, both from the point of view of producing clean energy and that of using the energy, such as using electric vehicles to reduce our carbon footprint across the country. For CIMA+ and its employees, playing a part in this transition that is so important for our society is a point of pride.”

Another important aspect is supporting remote communities in their efforts to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels by integrating their diesel electric power stations with renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. The experts at CIMA+ were involved in projects in the Northwest Territories and Alaska that involved incorporating renewable energy sources and energy storage systems into these communities. The communities of Colville Lake (NWT) and Igiugig (Alaska) are excellent examples of success in this area. In the case of the Colville Lake project, we conducted a complete analysis of the existing system, which allowed us to make recommendations for improving its performance and reliability. In the case of the Igiugig project, we provided guidance and support throughout the process of integrating wind technology and a battery-based energy storage system, leading to a complete transition from diesel to renewable energy. This solution is much more affordable, reliable and economically viable over the complete lifecycle of the system, and it represents a step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving in the direction of a greener future for these communities.

At CIMA+, preserving the environment for future generations is part of our DNA. With climate change increasingly disrupting our daily lives, there can be no doubt that the effective use of renewable resources is part of the solution, not only for reducing our carbon footprint and our dependency on fossil fuels, but also for achieving sustainable development. We are proud to contribute to this evolution and to do our part for future generations.

[1] https://about.bnef.com/blog/renewable-energy-sector-defies-supply-chain-challenges-to-hit-a-record-first-half-for-new-investment/

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