Combined PV plant and battery storage project planned for Reunion island

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French battery company Saft will lead a consortium building a photovoltaic (PV) power plant combined with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage system on the island of La Réunion, Indian Ocean.

The consortium plans to connect 9MWp of PV generation output to a 9MWh containerised battery system.

The Saft-led group of companies was selected by developer Akuo Energy, which was awarded the project as one of 16 solar farms totalling 50MW approved by France’s Commission de Régulation de l’Energie (CRE) tender process in 2012.

The partnership will see Saft working with locally headquartered Corex Solar and Spanish electrical equipment and energy management system company Ingeteam on the Bardzour PV production and Li-ion energy storage system. The consortium and Akuo Energy signed what Saft has described as a turnkey contract for a complete energy production and storage scheme.

The Bardzour plant is intended to assist the increasing penetration of intermittent renewable energy after local grids have reached the limit of their integration capacity. The project will be capable of providing energy to the grid at a constant rate of 40% of the PV plant’s power output. Saft claims the project will eliminate the need for additional back-up generation to balance intermittent power from the PV plant.

It will be built around a prison in the harbour city of Le Port and is expected to be used to help socially reintegrate inmates through activities related to the new system.

Saft’s Intensium Max+ 20E containerised battery system will be installed, comprised of nine 1MWh containers, each housing 17 racks of Saft Synerion energy storage modules and battery management, thermal management and safety management systems.

Saft claims the system “has the flexibility to provide both power and energy under a very demanding charge/discharge pattern” and is easy to install in 1MWh blocks. Failure to provide stable power will result in penalties for Akuo Energy.

After supplying 156MW of inverters to projects in France and French overseas territories in 2013, Ingeteam claimed that it has supplied inverters to 25% of solar power projects approved by the French Energy Regulatory Commission.

Update 17 February 2014:

The consortium of lenders to the project, Natixis-Energeco, Agence Française du Développement and Caisse d’Epargne mandated independent technical advisor kilWattsol and partner Natural Power to carry out technical due diligence. This included use of a simulation tool, purpose-built for the project, which demonstrated the amount of electricity that could be sold from the system. According to kiloWattsol, to meet regulations laid out by Commission de Régulation de l’Energie (CRE), the technical due diligence will assist the plant's operator in comitting the amount of energy required by the grid one day prior to producing the energy, allowing the grid operator to synchronise the PV & storage system's output to the output of the island's conventional power generation. In announcing the news, kiloWattsol also revealed the cost of the Bardzour project to be €34 million (US$46.6 million).

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