Limiting the risk of wildfires from electrical sources


In the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, NantEnergy partnered with Duke Energy to develop a fully autonomous microgrid that not only meets the government’s rigorous reliability standards for the park’s emergency communications system, but the system also allowed the removal of 3.5 miles of power lines, thereby limiting the risk of wildfires from electrical sources.

NantEnergy’s rechargeable “air breathing” zinc-based battery systems make these microgrids highly attractive both economically and environmentally: they are cleaner and last longer than the lead acid batteries historically used for backup power. And by enabling the removal of power lines, microgrids like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park installation are helping park electrical corridors return to their natural state.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, Chairman of NantEnergy, said: “As Americans flock to our national parks for vacations and the Fourth of July holiday, it’s important to consider how we can protect and preserve these natural treasures now and for future generations. Common technologies like electrical power lines and telecom towers, while bringing untold benefits to park visitors, often come with heavy environmental costs. It’s time for our parks to stop making these compromises and to start deploying cleaner alternatives.”

There are an estimated 1,500 telecommunication towers dotting the hills and mountains of our national parks, connected by poles and hundreds of miles of wires to the local utility grid, often through rugged terrain and up steep slopes.

The local utility must keep the path clear of trees and other vegetation as a safety measure: If those remote lines should become downed in a storm or strong wind, they could spark a devastating wildfire. Installing and maintaining those power lines is extremely expensive, especially compared to the amount of power that’s consumed at the end of the line.

Hence microgrids are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly measure to mitigating possible devastation from wildfires