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Hawaiian island to run on lithium-ion batteries

By Laura Syrett
Published: Friday, 25 July 2014

French battery maker Saft has won a contract to supply Kauai, Hawaii’s fourth most populous island, with a Li-ion energy storage system that will regulate electricity supply from renewable sources. According to Saft, such solutions are likely to become the norm for island communities, which is positive news for suppliers of graphite and lithium raw materials.

French battery maker Saft has secured a multi-million dollar contract to supply the Hawaiian island of Kauai with an energy storage system based on lithium-ion ( Li-ion) batteries.

Going green: the Hawaiian islan of Kauai is to use Li-ion batteries
to regulate electricity supply form renewable energy sources
source: kristin_a. 
The company, which designs and manufactures advanced technology batteries for industrial use, will provide the Kauai Island Utility Electricity Co-operative (KIUC) with a battery energy storage system (BESS), consisting of eight containers of its Intensium Max 20 M batteries and two containers housing a 6 MW ABB converter.

The batteries will be used to stabilise the island’s energy grid, which serves a population of 65,000. Kauai is the fourth largest inhabited island in the Hawaiian archipelago.

“The batteries consist of a cylindrical cell, called the VL41M, with a capacity of 41 ah [ampere-hour],” Saft told IM.

“The positive electrode material is lithium nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA), on an aluminium foil substrate. Graphite is the negative material and is on a copper foil substrate. The VL41M cell is half a litre in volume and weighs 1.1 kg. Each container consists of 290 modules and each module contains of 14 cells, giving a total of 4060 cells total per container,” it added.

In addition to numerous energy storage installations, Saft said that the same technology is used in satellites, Formula One cars, Joint Strike Fighter jets and numerous other applications worldwide.

Li-ion batteries and cells are major target markets for both the graphite and lithium mining industries, with many junior developers looking to exponential consumption growth to absorb new supply.

Li-ion batteries enable energy diversification

KIUC’s decision to use a Li-ion energy storage system is part of the co-operative’s strategy to diversify Kauai’s energy mix, which involves increasing the share of electricity generated through renewable sources such as hydropower, PV, biofuels and biomass.

One of the problems associated with renewable energy is intermittency, but this can be mitigated by storing power.

Saft began working on large format Li-ion cells in 1995, with the aim of improving grid storage capabilities. The company began producing the cells on a small scale in 1998, but has since expanded its manufacturing capacity, most recently with the opening of a Li-ion facility in Jacksonville, Florida, US.

One of its latest commercial developments has been the VL41M energy storage cell, which is the kind to be used in Kauai.

The batteries will be deployed in a new $50m, 12 MW photovoltaic park currently under construction in Anahola on Kauai’s east coast, funded by KUIC and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Homestead Community Development Corp.

The contract establishes Saft as the main provider of energy storage batteries in Hawaii and the company says that the contract is part of a growing trend in favour of Li-ion solutions for island communities.

“With other BESS contracts in the works, this agreement is indicative of the expanding renewables market relying on Li-ion energy storage within island nations,” said Blake Frye, vice president of sales and energy storage at Saft.

Vertically integrated KUIC is the only licenced supplier of electricity and its network has a maximum load of 78 MW and comprises around 35,000 metres with 13 substations fed by three active electricity production sites.

Deliveries for the contract, the exact value of which was not disclosed, are slated to begin in October this year.

Saft's Intensium Max Li-ion containers will be installed in Kauai's new
$50m power generation park (source: Saft).

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