Duke Energy proposes renewable energy microgrid in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

15 November 2016 (Last Updated November 15th, 2016 18:30)

US-based company Duke Energy has proposed to install a renewable energy microgrid to serve energy needs for a remote tower in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

US-based company Duke Energy has proposed to install a renewable energy microgrid to serve energy needs for a remote tower in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

The proposed project site is at the top of Mount Sterling in Haywood County. It would see the combination of a 10kW solar installation and a Fluidic 95kW-hour zinc-air battery.

Currently powered through a single overhead electric line, the tower requires the ability to operate independently from the energy grid as it provides emergency communications for the park.

"This project would allow us to take advantage of renewable energy resources to serve a customer's distinct need."

The park's superintendent Cassius Cash said: "Although the National Park Service (NPS) will not make a decision about issuing a Right-of-Way Agreement or authorising construction of the solar-powered system until National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) compliance are complete, the park is pleased to be considered for this project, which could support the sustainability initiative."

The company has recently filed all the details of the proposed project with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC).

Duke Energy Western North Carolina regional general manager Robert Sipes said: "This project would allow us to take advantage of renewable energy resources to serve a customer's distinct need in a less expensive and more reliable way."

Work on  the project, if approved, could begin by next year and is expected to be operational by the middle of the same year. The project is subject to NCUC and NPS approval.


Image: Duke Energy intends to build new renewable energy microgrid project in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo: courtesy of Duke Energy Corporation.