Big Battery Helping Sarnia Facility Cut Costs
By Tyler Kula, August 19, 2018
A New York-based company is helping a petrochemical facility in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley shave more than $5 million a year of its utility bill.
That’s by using a new battery system, the largest “behind-the-meter” energy storage system in North America, said officials with Convergent Energy and Power, which spent the last seven to nine months building it for the unnamed Sarnia facility.
“They wanted to keep anonymous in this,” said Toby Tiktinsky, vice-president of business development with Convergent.
The battery system stores up to 20 megawatts of power during off-peak times, and then uses it to power the facility at up to 10 megawatts per hour when demand is high, he said.
“From the utility’s point of view, it looks like the facility is using less electricity at that critical time,” he said. “But the facility itself isn’t using less electricity, they’re just taking 10 megawatts worth from the battery system.”
Doing that means a break in global adjustment charges in Ontario for class-A industrial companies – those that have greater than one megawatt of demand, he said.
“They have the opportunity, as a class-A member, to reduce their global adjustment costs by shifting load away from grid power during those peak times.”
That means more power in the grid, and financial savings, he said.
Convergent makes its money by taking a cut of the savings, he said, noting it also operates the system and charges nothing to the company up front.
“For every megawatt that you can reduce, you’re cutting about $500,000 to $550,000 a year off a utility bill,” Tiktinsky said. That’s before Convergent takes its share.
The global adjustment cost savings at one company likely requires other companies to pay more, he said, but wasn’t able to confirm.
The cost to install – in this case six containers with thousands of lithium-ion battery modules, inverters, and transformers, altogether taking up about 1,750 square feet of space – is proprietary, he said.
“We’re working with a lot of companies in Sarnia and across Ontario to try and help them reduce their energy cost,” he said.
Other battery storage systems, via utility companies at substations for instance, he said, are larger.
“But as far as we can tell, this is the biggest (system on a private business’ property).”
The system uses hardware and software from IHI Inc.’s energy storage division, Convergent officials said, in a news release.