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Saft supplying BESS to France’s first grid-connected colocated solar and battery storage project

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Saft Intensium Max BESS at the company’s standalone battery project in Dunkirk, France. Image: Saft.

France’s first high-voltage transmission grid-connected battery project colocated with a solar PV plant will be equipped with a battery energy storage system (BESS) from Saft.

The battery manufacturer and energy storage system integrator announced today the award of an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by renewable energy developer and independent power producer Neoen.

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Saft will provide a modular, plug-and-play 8MW/8MWh BESS to Neoen’s solar PV project in Antugnac, southern France. The battery storage will perform frequency regulation ancillary services for the grid of national transmission operator RTE after Neoen won a seven-year contract through RTE’s AOLT tender process.

The France-headquartered battery storage provider, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, will engineer, manufacture, construct and integrate the full BESS solution, based on four of Saft’s Intensium Max containerised units, along with power conversion system (PCS) equipment, controls and SCADA systems. 

Saft said the project will be delivered this Spring, within 10 months of contracts being signed. 

While Neoen has a strong background in the global wind and solar renewable energy markets, it is perhaps best known in the energy storage industry for its large-scale battery projects in Australia. 

These include — among others — the recently inaugurated Victorian Big Battery (300MW/450MWh) and the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which for a long time after commissioning in 2019 was the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery storage project. BESS supplier to both those projects was Tesla. 

Neoen’s French development director Guillaume Decaen said Saft was selected due to its “deep knowledge of battery technology and proven experience in energy storage globally, its ability to manage a complete EPC scope including civil works and grid connection requirements from project inception to end-of-life dismantling”.

Decaen also noted that the performance of the asset is guaranteed throughout its lifetime by Saft. Saft meanwhile said that although the initial and primary function of the BESS is frequency regulation, the asset will be flexible enough to be used for additional services over the next 15 years, optimising project revenues. 

In a recent webinar hosted in partnership with Energy-Storage.news, Saft’s energy storage team members including director of innovation Michael Lippert discussed the need for energy storage systems and their operators to be agile to meet the changing needs of the market, with digital technologies the key enabler of that agility

Recently, commissioning was completed on an expansion project for France’s largest standalone BESS project, a Saft system deployed at a TotalEnergies refinery site in Dunkirk. The project was expanded from 25MW/25MWh inaugurated in January 2021 to 61MW/61MW, unveiled in December last year. The project was also discussed in detail as part of the Saft webinar with Energy-Storage.news.

Saft said today that its contract with Neoen guarantees high availability and performance, claiming that the BESS will be adaptable to changing operating patterns and able to perform more than two full discharges daily. The company will also support the system remotely from its energy storage system operating hub in Bordeaux, France, one of three such centres it has around the world. 

The majority of battery systems paired with solar PV in France have been on the European country’s various island territories around the world, for which annual capacity tenders have been conducted for a few years. 

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