Cat microgrid technology system powers a Waitomo cave


A Waitomo cave’s facilities are now powered by a new Caterpillar microgrid technology system with a solar/battery system with diesel back-up

The system was put into place after a project between the site’s owners and operators and Gough Power Systems.

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The new Caterpillar microgrid technology system was unveiled in late January

This off-grid solution now powers the ticket and tour office at Ruakuri Cave​s and a water pump for farm irrigation. 

It was unveiled at an official opening for the new visitor centre in late January. Ruakuri is one of several caves in the Waikato and are a major tourist attraction for their glow-worms and limestone formations. Gough Power Systems segment manager hybrid energy solutions Grant Kirchmann says the generator has not run since the project was commissioned in November, as it’s only designed as a standby option.

"There has been zero fuel burn, which the benefits of 100% renewable electricity and free electricity generated from the sun," he says.

The microgrid uses two Caterpillar 4kW inverters, an 8kW bi-directional inverter, and 20kWh of BYD lithium batteries stored in a dust tight enclosure. The 9.87kWs of Caterpillar thin film photo voltaic (PV) panels are installed on a fixed tilt ground mounted structure.

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The microgrid uses two Caterpillar 4kW inverters, an 8kW bi-directional inverter, and 20kWh of BYD lithium batteries

The system is backed by a Cat 11kW DE11 10kVA prime generator. A cloud-based software system sits behind the plant, providing the owner and operator with remote access to plant information such as yield and energy balance.

Ongoing maintenance requirements depend on how often the generator runs. Maintenance is required when the generator runs for more than 500 hours in a year. The PV panels are self-cleaning, says Grant, and Gough Cat will monitor the site remotely.

"This was Gough’s first hybrid project and we are proud to say it had very successful conclusion as it not only met the client’s needs but exceeded them as a sustainable and highly reliable solution," says Grant.

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