SMA installs PV+storage on Caribbean island, will meet 23% of annual demand

Germany-based inverter supplier SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) has completed installation of a hybrid energy system on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands. Using PV elements of 1.9 MW and 1 MW of batteries, this single system can generate enough power to save 800,000 liters of diesel and 2,200 tons of CO2 annually.

“The project fully integrates three different energy sources on a large scale that work together in a harmonized manner: solar power, battery storage and diesel gensets,” says Volker Wachenfeld, Vice President SMA business unit Off-Grid and Storage.

According to SMA, the hybrid system is designed to generate enough solar power to cover more than 23% of the island’s annual electricity demand of 13.5 GWh. The company’s Sunny Central Storage 1000 battery inverter enables measured solar fraction of up to 88% during sunshine hours and supports the grid with stability functions such as frequency regulation, ramp-rate control for smoothing PV power fluctuations and optimization of diesel power generation.

“Rapid movement of clouds in this region, in particular, leads to extreme fluctuations in solar power generation which constrains the integration of large-scale photovoltaics into diesel-based grids,” says Volker Wachenfeld. “That’s why using large-scale storage systems is meaningful for this application as they minimize the impact of fluctuating energy sources on diesel generators.”

The hybrid PV+storage power system on St. Eustatius is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, and SMA expects that neighboring islands will soon also realize the advantage of integrating storage in their energy system. There are also other examples to follow. SolarCity, the largest distributed solar provider in the U.S., is planning to equip its 13 MW PV plant on Hawaiian island of Kaua’i with a 52 MWh storage system supplied by Tesla.