Eu’s largest PV energy conversion and storage project enters field trial phase  

Saft, Voltwerk and Tenesol, industrial partners in the EU-backed Sol-ion project, have said that the project, which commenced in August 2008, is now moving into its test and evaluation phase. This involves the deployment of 75 Sol-ion energy kits for field trials across France and Germany.??

The Sol-ion trials will see Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries used in PV systems on what they say is the largest scale ever tested in Europe. The trials will be used to assess the performance of the technology, its economic viability, the added value of energy storage in an on-grid system and the benefits to stakeholders.??

Commenting, Michael Lippert, marketing manager of Saft’s Energy Storage activities said: "We are very excited to be moving into the field trial phase as this will provide invaluable practical experience and feedback that will help refine our approach as we move a step closer towards making PV energy storage kits commercially available."

A statement released on the project explained: "Currently, the majority of grid-connected PV systems do not include energy storage and the electricity produced is fed into the grid directly, in real time. The advantage of the Sol-ion energy conversion and storage concept is that solar energy can be ‘time-shifted’ to periods of peak demand or when there is no sun, allowing self-consumption or grid support.

"The field trials will demonstrate the benefits to the environment and to stakeholders of storing PV energy. One key benefit will be to reduce the impact of intermittent injection to power grids, thus allowing a higher penetration of PV energy in the electricity mix. ??The Sol-ion kit has been developed to accommodate PV energy production of 5 kWp (peak) with a battery rated from 5 to 15 kWh and a nominal voltage of 170 V to 350 V. Li-ion is the only technology that meets the project’s need for 20-year battery life in demanding environmental conditions.??

"The energy conversion and system management systems are designed to handle four system functions: multidirectional energy flows; self-consumption; grid support; back-up. They are also intended to handle requirements for demand side management such as control over storage and loads using smart metering, and integration within future smart grids that will need to handle demand response and dynamic pricing."