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Rolls-Royce supplies battery storage to Costa Rican textiles company with four years’ payback

By Andy Colthorpe
Rolls-Royce Power Systems MTU EnergyPack containerised battery solutions. The company said it will begin manufacturing the solutions at a dedicated site in Ruhstorf, Bavaria, from next year. Image: Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

An integrated energy system installed for a textiles company in Costa Rica by Rolls-Royce Power Systems will pay for itself in just over four years, the technology provider has claimed.

The announcement comes as Rolls-Royce Power Systems prepares to begin manufacturing of its battery storage solutions at a dedicated site in Bavaria, Germany, under the brand of a newly-established microgrid division.

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Customer Proquinal invested in the system that includes 255kWp of solar PV mounted on a carport onsite, supplied by local solar installation company Swissol. This is combined with 4,275kWh of containerised battery energy storage with a 1,500kVA output. The system is intended to help reduce the company’s use of the local public electricity grid, reduce its peak demand and increase the use of solar energy.

The project is thought to be Costa Rica’s largest such system. It uses two Rolls-Royce MTU EnergyPack containerised storage solutions, each housed in a 40ft container. The textiles company has two peak periods each working day throughout its production processes, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Both peak production periods occur at times when the local grid is also experiencing peak demand and therefore the cost of energy is at its highest. With the battery storage charging up during off-peak periods, including at nighttime and also from solar production during the afternoon, customer Proquinal should be able to make significant savings on energy cost while reducing carbon emissions.

According to a Rolls-Royce press release, the system will offer Proquinal payback on its investment so quickly because the difference between peak and nighttime off-peak electricity costs is about 4.5x, meaning that the textile company will save around US$41,000 per month.

Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Power Systems, part of the Rolls-Royce Holding Group, entered the energy storage and microgrid market – or the ‘autonomous energy supply’ market, to use the company’s own shorthand – with an investment in German microgrid company Qinous in 2018.

Increasing that minority stake investment in Qinous to 73.1% in January this year, Rolls Royce Power Systems established Qinous’ Berlin headquarters as its own centre for competence in microgrids and renamed Qinous as Rolls-Royce Solutions Berlin. Rolls-Royce Power Systems Division CEO Andreas Schell said at the time that the new subsidiary would “play a pivotal role going forward” in pooling all of the division’s microgrid activities in one central hub.

In August the company announced that it would be increasing production of the MTU EnergyPack systems and from next year, the systems will be manufactured at Siemens-Technopark in Ruhstorf, Bavaria, Germany. Rolls-Royce already has other production facilities at the site. Until now, the battery storage systems have been made at Ruhstorf by another group subsidiary, MTU Onsite Energy Systems. The dedicated manufacturing facility marks the launch of a new Microgrid Solutions division for the group.

In September the company announced a project on Rarotonga, one of the South Pacific Cook Islands, for New Zealand-headquartered energy solutions provider Vector Powersmart. Using a similar amount of MTU EnergyPack battery storage as the Proquinal project in Costa Rica, Rolls-Royce Power Systems is providing a local utility with an integrated solar-storage system backed up with diesel generators

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