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Energy storage system to support power grid in switch to eco-friendly generation

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Saft, the world specialist in the design and manufacture of high-tech batteries for industry and defence, is currently delivering a major contract for a 3 MW energy storage system that will ensure a continuous supply of grid electricity from the world's largest hybrid wind/diesel power project to date, on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The Saft energy storage system, based on advanced nickel-based battery technology, will store energy from the island's isolated grid and then deliver it as required to provide backup power to maintain a totally reliable and stable power grid serving a local population of 14,500 people and around 100,000 holiday visitors a year.

Bonaire is a small island of around 250 km2 located 80 km north of the coast of Venezuela. The island's main power plant burnt down in 2004, so until recently its annual power consumption of 75,000 MWh was met by a set of rented container (light-fuel) diesel generator systems. The new sophisticated sustainable power scheme, developed by the Dutch-German consortium EcoPower Bonaire BV on behalf of Water en Energie Bedrijf Bonaire (WEB), the state-run energy provider in the Dutch Antilles, will enable the entire island to switch to eco-friendly energy, with 12 wind turbines providing a total of 11 MW and a 14 MW biodiesel power plant.

Saft was called in by consortium member Enercon, a wind turbine and system supplier, to develop and supply the battery energy storage system that will form a vital element of a safe, stable island grid. Its main role is to maintain power quality and continuity of supply in critical situations, such as a sudden increase in demand or failure of a wind turbine or diesel generator, preventing the possibility of a power black-out. The battery is capable of delivering just over 3 MW for well over two minutes, allowing sufficient time for an additional diesel generator to be started and brought on line.

"The Bonaire project is a further example of the steadily increasing recognition that energy storage technology will play a key role in the successful delivery of renewable energy schemes", said Xavier Delacroix, the general manager of Saft's IBG division. "Saft's advanced battery technology and growing experience in renewable energy applications mean that we are well positioned to support this type of project with reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy storage systems."

The battery system has already been built by Saft and is currently undergoing customer acceptance tests in preparation for delivery to the site in Bonaire in the first quarter of 2010.

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