Kongiganak, Alaska is a village on Alaska’s west coast. As another first, the community is planning to install a lithium ion battery into it’s cogeneration mix as another Alaskan innovation worked out by energy entrepreneur Dennis Meiner. I first met Dennis at DOE’s annual 2010 tribal energy program review, and spending 45 minutes in a 1:1 lunch was phenomenal. His work of the time to bring in 45kw turbines with all the difficulties of permafrost foundations in remote villages has been cutting edge. He was figuring out how utility systems could replace more than half the village’s electric and heating needs with wind energy. He had local residents become the pro’s in the venture. This led to training up a three tribal consortium to run the operation so that they even got to the point of offering help to the lower 48 – this was eye opening from a holistic community/regional development point of view. Efforts included wireless communications in real time of what individual buildings were aggregating for a village’s energy demand wirelessly so as to instruct wind turbines (as the primary or lead generator and secondary diesel generators) to synchronize to optimize output.
At that time the innovative way to deal with electrical overproduction of the wind turbines during strong wind currents was to plow the excessive electricity into resistive heating elements that would store the BTUs into thermal bricks that were in Toyostove looking stove boxes (out of South Dakota). But storage in lithium batteries would work much better. In some villages flywheels have been a good ‘intermediary’ storage when wind is variable and diesel gen-sets need to adjust. But direct electrical flow storage is the way to go if possible….We will keep an eye on the progress, as will much of the world which depends on microgrids for communities of just several hundred.