Saft batteries to support the largest solar photovoltaic-diesel hybrid power plant in Latin America

Saft, world leader in the design, development and manufacture of high-tech batteries for industry, has been awarded a major contract to supply the megawatt scale lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage system (ESS) for the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) and diesel generation hybrid power project. The plant, which combines a 5 MW PV array with 16 MW diesel generation, is in Bolivia’s Pando department, on the border with Brazil and Peru. It is currently under construction by Isotron SAU, a subsidiary of Spain’s Isastur Group.

Latin American market offers significant opportunities for energy storage due to the growing importance of renewable energy, especially solar PV.
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Pando is in the remote tropical northern area of Bolivia in the Amazonian rain forest. It is not connected to the country’s national grid, resulting in electricity coverage of just 65 percent, with the 37 GWh demand met exclusively by diesel generation.

The hybrid power plant will coordinate PV and diesel generation to maximise the use of clean solar power to meet around half the energy demand in the department’s capital city of Cobija and neighbouring towns – which represent a total peak load of around 9 MW. With a total output of 21 MW, the new hybrid plant will increase the overall production of electricity in the Pando department, bringing it in line with the rest of Bolivia, which has electricity coverage of 80 percent.

Effective energy storage will play a critical role in the hybrid plant by ensuring system stability and smoothing out short term variations in output from the PV array, both of which are essential to achieve the highest possible contribution of PV to the energy mix. The integration of PV with energy storage and diesel generation will ensure total continuity of supply for Pando, while reducing fuel consumption by an estimated 20 million litres a year, saving the utility millions of dollars and reducing CO2 emissions.

The ESS will comprise two of Saft’s well proven Intensium® Max 20 M Medium Power containerised Li-ion battery systems, each with a nominal storage capacity of 580 kWh and 1.1 MW peak power output. The batteries will operate in combination with inverters and intelligent control systems that enable large amounts of solar power to be integrated into diesel powered grids, ensuring system stability and smooth control of the gensets. In the Pando project, the contribution of solar PV to the energy mix is around double that of traditional PV-diesel hybrid systems.