Nestled in Madison County North Carolina is the little town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Duke Energy recently tested a microgrid they built there. The property, which stretches more than 15 acres, was leased from the adjoining manufacturing company, Peerless Blowers.
Since Hot Springs is a town of just over 500, it had limited rerouting options in the event of an outage. The microgrid was certainly needed and welcomed by the community to ensure reliability for their customers.
During the testing phase, Duke Energy’s microgrid was able to pick up the town’s entire load from a black start without any help from the energy grid. It used solar and battery storage to restore power and actually serviced the town’s electrical load while Duke Energy gathered data.
Duke Energy worked with Finnish company Wärtsilä, which manufactures and services power source and equipment in the marine and energy markets. They supplied the GEMS Digital Energy Platform for the battery energy storage and management system which integrated control of both the solar and energy storage facilities.
The Hot Springs microgrid consists of a 2 MW (AC) solar facility and a 4.4 MW/4.4 MW-hour lithium-based battery storage facility. While this battery only has a 1-hour duration, the town’s typical load is typically less than 1 MW, potentially extending the battery’s available duration to at least four hours.
“Duke Energy has numerous smaller microgrids on our system, but this is our first microgrid that can power an entire small town if its main power line experiences an outage,” said Jason Handley, general manager of Duke Energy’s Distributed Energy Group.
Duke Energy has over 60 MW of microgrid capacity connected throughout its regulated areas. For example: In Asheville, NC they operate a 9 MW lithium-ion battery system at a substation site in the Rock Hill community, and in Haywood County, NC they have a 3.8 kW-hour lithium iron phosphate battery and 10 kW solar DC microgrid installation serving a communications tower on Mount Sterling in the Smoky Mountains National Park.