Battery storage steps in to support renewable targets on French islands

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While France’s industrial group Socomec has been around since 1922, the company began its exploration of battery storage just a decade ago, and now says it is in the process of developing its largest scale storage projects to-date. The new utility-scale battery energy storage projects are being built on the islands of Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea. In partnership with independent renewable energy producer Albioma, focused on solar and biomass projects, the new Socomec storage projects are being deployed in response to France’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) tender to smooth PV power output entering the grid, maximize production, and ensure a reserve of capacity during peak hours for the island systems.

“The role of the storage systems is to guarantee the production plan in a range of plus or minus 5%, otherwise Albioma will be penalized on the purchase of electricity,” says Socomec marketing manager Hubert Hoeltzel. “During peak periods, the grid operator can ask for 20% of the peak power generated by the solar PV systems over a two hour period,” which Hoeltzel says will allow Albioma to benefit from increased remuneration at these times.

The nine Socomec battery energy storage systems are being collocated with the PV plants developed by Albioma. In Mayotte, Réunion, and Guadeloupe a total of eight 10-foot 200kVA/365kWh containers are supporting 250kW solar PV plants on each island. Socomec is also developing one 40-foot 800kVA / 1552kWh battery storage project that is collocated with a 1.5MW solar installation on Mayotte, which the company says is a large highlight project in its portfolio.

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Hoeltzel said that all of the storage projects were initially planned to be completed by the end of 2020, and that its three 10-foot battery storage containers have been installed in Mayotte and the systems are now commissioned and operational. But with the outbreak of Covid-19, commissioning has been delayed for the remaining projects and it is unclear when construction will continue.

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