Market Insight

EDF commissions 5 MW PV plant equipped with sodium nickel chloride energy storage system.

January 12, 2015

Sam Wilkinson Sam Wilkinson Associate Director, Solar & Energy Storage
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A 5 MW PV plant with integrated energy storage has recently been commissioned in French Guiana, an overseas region of France located on the North Atlantic coast of South America.

Key Facts

  • EDF announced the commissioning of the ‘Toucan PV Plant’ in French Guiana on 7th January 2015.
  • The PV system includes a 1.5MW / 4.5 MWh sodium nickel chloride battery, provided by Italian battery manufacturer FIAMM.
  • The 5MW PV system uses CdTe thin file PV modules provided by First Solar.
  • Source: EDF Press Release

IHS Analysis

Energy storage was added to this PV system to help improve the integration of the produced power into the grid, and to allow more precise forecasting of the systems output. IHS understands that the electricity grid in French Guiana is relatively unstable. The energy storage system will absorb excess electricity that is generated by the system, and only release it when required, minimising the impact that the intermittent generation could have on the grid. The size of the energy storage system is relatively large in comparison to the PV system, and able to store over an hour of generation at times of peak production. This will allow the system to ‘shift’ relatively large amounts of energy, as opposed to simply ‘smoothing’ the output, which would require a much shorter duration of storage.

The system uses sodium nickel chloride batteries, which are relatively uncommon in energy storage systems that are co-located with renewables. The battery is provided by FIAMM, which is one of only two sodium nickel chloride manufacturers in the world, the other being General Electric, which uses this chemistry for its Durathon batteries. In this case, the main advantage of this technology is that due to its extremely high operating temperature, these batteries are housed in highly insulated sealed units, and can naturally withstand extreme environments as a result. The system is located on the coast line of a French Guiana and is therefore exposed to a harsh humid climate. The sealed units are therefore well suited to this system and can operate without air conditioning, which is typically required for Li-Ion systems.

IHS predicts that co-locating energy storage systems with new and existing utility-scale PV systems will become increasingly common. It predicts that the volume of utility-scale PV systems with storage integrated will grow by over six-fold this year, compared to 2014, and that annual installations will reach close to 1 GW (of PV capacity) in 2018.

More analysis from IHS: Energy Storage in PV Report - 2014

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