No more wind curtailment on Bonaire

31 July 2019

Wärtsilä has commissioned a 6 MW/6 MWh energy management and storage system for ContourGlobal on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. With phase one complete, the island no longer has to curtail wind resources. It has allowed renewable energy penetration to be nearly doubled, as well as preparing the island for additional capacity to accommodate peak demand during the tourist season. ContourGlobal’s island grid is operated using the GEMS advanced software platform, provided by Greensmith, a Wärtsilä company.

“A big hurdle for utilities today is figuring out where to begin when it comes to modernising traditional thermal-based systems to allow the integration of more renewable generation assets without compromising reliability,” said Sampo Suvisaari, regional director, Latin America North and the Caribbean, Wärtsilä Energy Business. “Bonaire provides a real-time case study as to how it can be done using a phased approach.”

The phased approach allows time for system operators to add new hybrid solutions and spread out costs, and leaves room for new technologies to come online. For Bonaire, phase one involves GEMS optimising dispatch and operation of existing generation assets. It also provides spinning reserve requirement with energy storage, improving system reliability
by providing frequency and voltage control.

To optimise the system GEMS now factors in real-time asset performance, as well as load and renewable energy forecasts.

“During our commissioning tests, several load rejections were tested, including loss of wind, loss of engines and loss of demand, and in every circumstance, GEMS instantaneously tracked and maintained the quality of the generation avoiding load shedding”, said Giorgio Narminio, Caribbean assets COO of ContourGlobal.

Commissioning of the project puts Bonaire on the path to achieving its 100% renewable target. This is the beginning of a longer-term plan to fully modernise the island’s system and add additional capacity and renewable energy generation to the grid.

ContourGlobal Bonaire commissioned the project after years of seeking solutions to integrate more renewable power into the existing island grid.

The next phases for the Bonaire project will replace outdated thermal technology with five new engines and add more wind and solar to the generation mix. As the island grid increases in size, GEMS will enable further renewable penetration and lower the cost of energy. GEMS machine learning and AI capability will incorporate weather, electricity demand and other variables and data into its forecasting models. 

Bonaire (photo Greensmith Energy, a Wärtsilä company)

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