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Calif. Energy Commission awards Satcon, A123 Systems, RES and SMUD $2M to develop energy storage system for grid-tied photovoltaics

The California Energy Commission has selected Satcon Technology Corporation, a leading provider of utility-grade power conversion solutions for the renewable energy market, along with A123 Systems, Renewable Energy Services (RES), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to receive a $2 million grant to develop and demonstrate methods to reduce the effects of renewable power intermittency.

The project will be the first of its kind to demonstrate a highly efficient and cost effective electric energy storage system specifically designed and optimized for grid-tied PV applications.

The system will consist of a 500 kW PV array, Satcon’s 500 kW PowerGate Plus utility-ready inverter solution and a 500 kWh advanced lithium-ion battery energy storage system from A123 that will leverage a high power, high voltage version of Satcon’s battery power conditioning system (Satcon Spectrum PCS) featuring Satcon’s EDGE Adaptive Control Architecture (EDGE ACA) to enable voltage stabilization, frequency control and continuous operation of the PV plant in the event of major grid instabilities including faults.

The grant is part of a larger initiative to develop the core solutions to enable higher penetration of renewable power onto the electric grid through advanced solar energy harvest, storage and array control capabilities.

Utility-scale solar deployment is a crucial part in attaining California’s renewable energy goals, including achieving 33% of utility loads in the state with renewable energy by 2020. Successfully managing the intermittent nature of solar energy remains a challenge for utilities looking to increase the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants on their grid networks.

This Satcon-led project is designed to address these grid integration challenges through the development of PV integrated electric energy storage systems capable of voltage and frequency support, PV firming, real power dispatch and ramp rate control. The project team will develop, test and demonstrate the proposed technology at SMUD’s corporate headquarters in Sacramento, California.

The project is part of the Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Renewable Program, which funds initiatives that help meeting research, development and demonstration needs related to more rapid and environmentally responsible deployment of utility-scale renewable energy.



I wonder if A123 is going to use their car battery cells or go ahead and design for the application. You lose a lot of the energy density and power density requirements for grid batteries. Remember, you have less mass and volume restrictions because your not hauling your energy storage around in a car. Cost and cycling stability are your main issues.


A123 builds modules for stationary power apps from cylindrical cells, unlike the prismatic cells for EVs. These cells are incredibly stable, have long life and are reliable.

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