The Wind Energy Institute of Canada in western P.E.I. has purchased a $3-million system for storing wind energy, which it expects to begin tests on before the end of the year.
Institute CEO Scott Harper told CBC News the experimental system will be connected to the Institute's new 10-megawatt wind farm. The power convertor and storage system is designed by the Canadian company S&C Electric, with battery technology from GE, and consisting of two boxes about the size of two shipping containers.
'At the end of the day, these things have to make fiscal sense.' — Scott Harper, Wind Energy Institute
An effective method for storing wind energy is important because the wind doesn't always blow when people need electricity.
"Obviously, in the overnight hours we don't tend to use as much electricity as a province. We're sleeping, we're not using power in our homes," said Harper.
"If the wind's blowing there could in some cases be excess wind and it's being sold off-Island. But when everybody's getting up in the morning, eight-nine o'clock, and we're seeing our system peak, it would be nice perhaps to be able to off-set some of that most expensive power by using stored energy from wind."
The energy currently sold off-Island overnight is sold at a loss, because there is little demand for it.
This particular system can store enough energy to power about 500 homes for an hour.
"We're not going to be supporting the Island grid by any means," said Harper.
"That said, you can model with this. So, technically, we can see, 'OK, how did this respond? Did it do what it was supposed to do?' But it's also large enough that you can start to check on the economics. Because, you know, at the end of the day, these things have to make fiscal sense if they're going to be used at a larger scale."
Harper said eventually a number of these storage systems could be set up around the province, but that's still years away. The Institute's five-year test of this equipment will begin before the end of this year.