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Battery Systems In A Substation: Manitoba Hydro’s Experience With Alternative Technologies

Konstantinos Stamatis

Barry Potapinski

Karim Abdel-Hadi

Shaahin Filizadeh

Utilities use stationary battery systems in substations for such purposes as stand-by power supply or as a power source for communication systems. With stringent limitations on space and increasing requirements for safety and reliability, utilities need to consider new battery chemistries to enable reliable, secure, space-effective, and cost-effective substation energy storage. Despite their higher initial costs, Manitoba Hydro recently began investigating the possibility of employing alternative, high-energy battery technologies for use in specialized applications where otherwise high installation costs would most likely make conventional VLA technologies less competitive. Two examples include using these new technologies in isolated communities, where operations are hampered by high installation, transportation, and maintenance costs and when their small footprints obviate the need to install expensive additional structures such as “Ready-to-Move” (RTM) trailers in particularly cramped substations. Such potential benefits prompted Manitoba Hydro in late 2016 to fund a two-year project investigating the suitability of both Sodium Nickel Chloride and Lithium-Ion batteries, their chargers, and their battery management systems (BMSs) for specific substation standby applications. The purpose of this project was to generate reliable characteristics of the aging process of Lithium-Ion and Sodium Nickel batteries for substation applications by recording and analyzing battery performance in their native substation applications and to determine whether they can be considered viable alternatives to conventional battery technologies. Manitoba Hydro purchased and tested a Lithium-Ion battery system from Saft and a Sodium-Nickel battery system from FIAMM for evaluation purposes.

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