Saft’s grid-balancing batteries added to 10MW PV farm in Puerto Rico

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Coto Laurel, Puerto Rico. Image: Saft.

Puerto Rico’s financially troubled electric power authority PREPA will install a large-scale battery park at a 10MW PV farm, to help integrate the farm’s output and other renewables.

Local developer Windmar will install the batteries, supplied by Saft. PREPA, which is still in ongoing restructuring efforts over a reported US$8 billion debt, needs to get 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 to meet a government-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Lithium-ion batteries from Saft’s Intensium Max 3.0 range will be used on the project, housed in 20ft containers. They will provide ramp-rate control and frequency regulation – both grid-balancing services – helping integrate variability from renewables and able to replace the ‘must-run’ use of thermal generation to maintain grid frequency.  

Puerto Rico has rules in place already for renewables to be paired with storage systems in order to interconnect to the grid. The island territory’s regulator, the Autoridad de Energia Electria (AEE), has stipulated that all renewable energy projects must provide the equivalent to 30% of nameplate capacity in storage for frequency regulation over a 10-minute duration and also provide 45% of the equivalent to the system’s nameplate, for one-minute ramping. 

Puerto Rico’s early lead in energy storage

In a late 2014 article for Energy Storage News and PV Tech Power, Puerto Rico was for this reason highlighted as one of the world’s early leaders in energy storage deployment, in common with another island territory, Hawaii. Island grids have been identified as one of the key areas where energy storage can already be viable, due to the high cost of importing fossil fuels and the lack of scope for interconnection with neighbouring regions.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in its 2015 roadmap for electricity storage that island and remote regions have a pressing need for energy security and independence, while also presenting an economic opportunity for storage and renewables providers.  

In an interview published in June 2015 Saft’s international business development manager Jim McDowall in fact told Energy Storage News that the company had several projects in Puerto Rico which were not proceeding as smoothly as had been hoped, due to PREPA’s financial woes.

In a statement today, McDowell hailed the latest project for helping the local economy as well as boosting the region’s renewables efforts.

“In remote locations and islands, it is essential our batteries can handle substantial daily energy flows and high power outputs in order to stabilise solar farms. Enabling Puerto Rico to generate solar energy domestically not only addresses RPS goals, but also adds local jobs,” McDowell said.

“We are providing the Coto Laurel PV facility with the highest power capability in 20-foot ISO containers, fully assembled and with flexibility in siting.”

The project, which has 4.5MW of peak power for ramp-rate control and 1MW for frequency response, should provide energy and cost savings, Saft said. The Coto Laurel PV plant uses SolarWorld panels and Ingeteam inverters and power conversion systems.

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