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Siberia to get initial 10MW solar-plus-storage project from Saft-Hevel partnership

Mock-up model of Saft Intensium Max unit, displayed at international trade shows by the company and the real thing, below. Image: SAFT.

Lithium-ion battery energy storage will be deployed at a 10MW solar farm in a remote part of Siberia, as a pilot to investigate the potential for the technologies to combine in the region.

Russian PV module manufacturer and project developer Hevel Solar has partnered with battery and energy storage system maker Saft, for what will be the latter’s first project in Russia. Hevel’s existing 10MW Kosh-Agach PV plant, in Russia’s Altai Republic, near the Mongolian border in southern Siberia, will be retrofitted with a Saft Intensium Max containerised lithium-ion battery system. The pilot project will help integrate solar power generated at Kosh-Agach to make it a reliable supply for the local grid, while also providing ancillary services.

A statement from Saft said that the agreement covers the ‘pioneer’ deployment of megawatt-scale energy storage systems (ESS) for solar power plants in the Altai Republic and beyond the initial pilot, there are plans to install energy storage distributed across several systems on a commercial basis. These projects are tentatively scheduled to be executed between the years 2020 and 2022, totalling in excess of 20MW capacity which Saft said would mainly be in off-grid locations.

Altai gets nearly 300 cloudless days per year, despite temperatures averaging less than 6 degrees centigrade, while the remote, unspoiled area hosts a UNESCO Heritage site and less than a quarter of a million inhabitants. Hevel already has 40MW of PV in operation in the republic and wants to arrive at around 140MW of capacity by 2020, while the company is also planning to use energy storage systems at power plants in Siberia and Far Eastern regions, likely to be off-grid installations.

"Integration of large-scale energy storage systems in solar power plants leads to the next stage of renewables in Russia that have evolved into an industry with almost 6GW capacity,” Igor Shakhray, Hevel Group CEO said.

“Such solutions are needed to increase flexibility and dispatchability of installed solar generation and therefore they enable System operator to explore power equipment of PV plants more efficiently in managing operational regimes of Unified power system that will bring more advantages over conventional power.”

A Saft representative added that as the project “reaches its commercial stages”, the company looked forward to finding opportunities to source key components of the systems, such as power conversion systems, from companies in Russia.  

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