Solar mini-grid to protect Austrian highway from blackouts


From pv magazine Germany

Off-grid solar and mini-grids are generally associated with rural electrification projects in countries with weak power networks and in locations that are difficult to reach in terms of logistics and transport in Asia, Africa or the Americas. This kind of project, however, may also be beneficial for special applications in countries with strong energy systems.

The Austrian motorway company Asfinag, for example, is building a hybrid solar mini-grid to supply with power a motorway maintenance unit near Klagenfurt. The solar-plus-storage facility is mainly intended to immediately provide solar power to the entire site during nighttimes as well as at times when the electricity network fails. The project, which is being developed in partnership with Austrian general contractor KEM, is part of a plan to install similar mini-grids at all the company's maintenance facilities.

The mini-grid at the station in Klagenfurt was built with a 220 kW system and a storage system with a capacity of 522 kWh. The facility is linked to the power network but can also be disconnected, if necessary, and work as an independent power supply.

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In the event of a failure of the power grid, the storage system seamlessly takes over the supply of the standalone grid with the help of the energy management system which was supplied, together with the batteries, by German specialist Dhybrid. In the battery operation mode, the energy management system also regulates the load management of three connected charging stations for electric vehicles from Asfinag with an output of up to 70 kW. If the capacity of the energy storage system is exhausted in the event of a persistent power failure, a fully automated back-up diesel generator is switched on.

When the blackout is over, the mini-grid is automatically reconnected with the network.

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