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Nidec ASI selected to create dispatchable solar-plus-storage on Corsica

The port town of Bastia, Corsica. Image: Wikimedia / Isiwal.

Nidec ASI has been selected to construct and maintain four PV plants with co-located energy storage systems on the French island territory of Corsica.

The systems integrator and equipment supplier announced today that the award of the projects, for which it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with local developer Corsica Sole, will take Nidec ASI beyond 500MWh of energy storage project work to date. This includes 420MWh already in operation and a pipeline under construction during this year of 59MWh. The company was in August awarded a supply contract for a 5MW / 5MWh energy storage system to a wind farm on Martinique, another French island territory. 

The latest competitive tenders to develop PV and solar-plus-storage projects on island territories, held by the French government’s energy regulator, CRE, brought winning bid prices down by as much as 40% when results were announced in late August.

Solar-plus-storage projects attained a guaranteed purchase price for their generated power of €113.6 (US$133.97 at the time of the announcement) per MWh. Compared to existing power prices on the islands, typically over €200 per MWh in part due to heavy dependence on imported diesel, the tenders were hailed as a win-win both economically and environmentally by the ministry of ecology, sustainable development and energy.

Corsica project to provide peak dispatch and solar smoothing

Corsica Sole, which also operates as an independent power producer (IPP), won 13MWp of projects in CRE’s ZNI tender for island territories. While the MoU with Nidec ASI pertains to four of these projects, the two parties have already signed an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract for one of them.

Nidec ASI will construct and then maintain a power plant with 4.78MWp of PV generation capacity and a 7.5MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), near Bastia, a traditional port town in the north-east of Corsica. Nidec ASI, headquartered in Italy with a Japanese parent company, will design, construct, install and commission the plant, in addition to supplying it with its own-brand 1.5kV inverters and ARTICS Smart Energy, Nidec’s control suite for power and energy management.

The maintenance contract lasts for two years and Nidec ASI said the project would be completed and connected by April 2018. The other three projects under the MoU with Corsica Sole are expected to get underway next year.   

The energy storage portion of the Bastia solar-plus-storage project will dispatch energy during peak hours and to smooth out the variable or intermittent output of the PV plant during daytime generation, Corsica Sole project director Anthony Bonello told Energy-Storage.News.

“The project shall forecast the day ahead production of the power plant and shall announce it to the grid operator,” Bonello said, adding that production should be able to match forecasting to within 5% accuracy. At present, Bonello said, Corsica’s grid operator does not permit energy storage systems to provide ancillary services such as frequency regulation, although the Bastia project would be technically capable of doing so.

“Corsica Solar is currently proposing projects dedicated for this kind of services to the grid operator in Corsica,” Bonello said.

According to Anthony Bonello, Corsica Sole selected Nidec ASI for the project due to the company’s track record, flexibility to deliver projects within the scope of the tender and of course availability, as well as a preference for the type of EPC contract Nidec put together and the strength of financial guarantees offered.

In terms of cost reduction, Bonello said tenders were coming in at lower prices due to both his company’s own efforts and the efforts of the wider industry. Corsica Sole, working in Corsica since 2009, executed its own first solar-plus-storage project on the island two years ago. This experience was important in helping the company recognise the viability of the latest project, Bonello said, adding that falling costs for batteries and PV modules over the past couple of years also helped pushed down those tender bids across the board.

Corsica Sole is expected to award the remainder of its pipeline from the tenders next year “and in the beginning of 2019,” Bonello said.