Sacramento Municipal Utility District selects battery technology supplier

June 18, 2010—Saft lithium-ion battery technology will supply renewable energy storage for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) photovoltaic storage pilot program at Anatolia, Ill., a high penetration PV community within SMUD’s service territory.

This year, SMUD was awarded $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a two-year pilot project to examine the value of distributed PV coupled with energy storage in 15 homes and three sites on SMUD’s distribution system within the community. The project will allow assessment of the PV system, energy storage capability and determine how well the storage systems perform during periods of peak demand. Through this pilot, SMUD will gain important insights about the technical and economic feasibility of using distributed storage to enable higher penetrations of PV within its service territory.

The battery system will provide energy storage so solar power can be time shifted to support SMUD’s “super-peak” from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., particularly when PV output drops off after 5 p.m. Li-ion is the only technology that meets the project’s need for 20-year battery life in a range of demanding environmental conditions.

Saft’s high energy Li-ion battery technology will be integrated into a 5 kW renewable energy storage device, made by Silent Power, to store the excess energy generated by a homeowner’s solar power installation. Composed of compact maintenance-free modules, the battery provides 9 kWh in a robust industrial design.

The modular battery design offers a number of features important to SMUD’s pilot program, including excellent cycling capability, a long calendar life and an intelligent self-diagnostic platform. It offers high energy density, millisecond-level response time and high power capability—both in charge and discharge. Additionally, Saft’s Li-ion technology provides precise information on the battery’s state-of-charge (SOC), which is a vital function in a dynamically operating energy storage system.

The $5.9 million project is leveraging SMUD’s SolarSmart Homes program, which is a key element of the Anatolia III Community. The SolarSmart Homes program seeks to partner with new home developers to provide new home owners energy-efficient homes equipped with rooftop PV systems. Other partners in the storage pilot project include GridPoint, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Navigant Consulting, Silent Power, SunPower and VPT Energy Systems.

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