Topic of the Week: Self-sufficiency (Part 3): There is no grid high up in the mountains

1/15/20, 5:05 PM -

When combined with battery storage, solar can power a fairly high-consumption facility even in the remotest places and without access to the grid.

Alpine refuge in Tyrol fitted with improved battery storage system
Off-grid living at its best: remote but nevertheless self-sufficient.

In 2017, TESVOLT supplied a battery storage system for the Coburger Hütte mountain refuge owned and operated by the German Alpine Association (DAV) in Tyrol, Austria. The storage system, with a capacity of 77 kilowatt hours (kWh), replaced the old lead-acid battery and has increased the solar power consumption of the cabin, which is fitted with a 16 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar array. The entire energy supply system is tailored to meet the DAV’s stringent environmental and sustainability criteria for mountain regions, and will reduce the consumption of rapeseed oil as fuel.

Improving self-sufficiency in mountainous terrain

The refuge, which provides overnight accommodation for hikers at more than 1,900 metres above sea level and does not have any connection to the power grid, is supplied with energy from both the photovoltaic system with its storage system and from a combined heat and power unit that runs on rapeseed oil. Compared to diesel – which, in line with the DAV’s principles, is banned on the mountain – rapeseed oil is a more environmentally friendly fuel, but costs 20-30 per cent more.

To find out more about TESVOLT's container storage unit, see this video.

“Delivering oil to the mountain is difficult and expensive,” says Michael Anker, CEO of the firm StromvomDach Erl GmbH, which is carrying out the work. “The new storage system means that the cabin can be powered by the solar power system even when the weather is not so sunny.” In high season and at full capacity of up to 80 overnight guests, the refuge consumes around 200 kWh each day.

Installed under difficult conditions

Due to the challenging terrain at the site, the storage system was delivered to the refuge using a helicopter. It was installed during the high season while the refuge was operating at full capacity, without interrupting the power supply. “TESVOLT’s storage systems are very compact and easy to install,” Michael Anker explains. “And for demanding projects like this one, reliable and failsafe batteries are extremely important in order to minimise maintenance work.”

“Our storage systems are high-performing and can withstand strong loads. This not only makes them ideal for use in industry, it also secures the power supply even in challenging and remote areas without a grid connection,” says Daniel Hannemann, Managing Director of TESVOLT.

100 per cent usable energy

Thanks to their particular design and chemical composition, the prismatic cells installed in the TESVOLT storage systems enable high charging speeds. With a total capacity of 76.8 kWh, both storage systems in the TESVOLT TS 40 series provide 100% usable energy (DoD) and are therefore well suited to rapidly storing energy and rapidly delivering it again in an emergency. The Active Battery Optimiser developed in-house by TESVOLT controls each individual cell, ensuring optimal charging and discharging and thus avoiding faults and damage.

The modernisation of the energy supply installation, including the process of installing the storage system, was more than 50% subsidised by the Austrian state and the German Alpine Association. (mfo)

In case you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2. Tomorrow we will see how self-sufficiency can transform agriculture.