Nice Grid smart grid project uses Saft energy storage with solar power in south of France

Nice Grid smart grid project uses Saft energy storage with solar power in south of France

The Nice Grid project in France brings together a broad range of stakeholders in the countrys first smart solar-energy district demonstration project, and features integrated energy storage based on Saft's lithium-ion battery technology.

Project overview

The Nice Grid project is based in the municipality of Carros in the Alpes-Maritimes department, near Nice on the Cte dAzur. Carros is in the Nice Urban Community area, and within the Eco-Valley National Interest Operation. Carros is on the periphery of the French transmission grid, making its electricity supply a structural challenge, but the town has abundant sources of renewable energy especially solar.

The project objective is to develop a smart electricity distribution grid that harmoniously integrates a high proportion of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, energy storage batteries, and intelligent power meters the Linky smart meter, developed by ERDF installed in the homes of volunteer participants. The project plans to install 2500 Linky units by the end of 2015.

By giving energy users the opportunity to manage their power consumption and budget, the Nice Grid aims to turn passive consumers into active prosumers (producer-consumers), representing a mix of residential users, business owners, and operators of apartment buildings.

To this end, the four-year Nice Grid smart solar district project will examine the various technological challenges involved in implementing future smart grid system concepts. It began in January 2012, and will run to December 2015. It will include a high proportion of solar PV panels connected to distributed energy storage systems.

Funding and partners

The budget for the Nice Grid project is approximately 30 million, of which 11 million is being provided by the French government and the European Union. This public funding comprises 7 million from the European Commission, and 4 million in refundable advances and grants from the French environment and energy management agency ADEME, following approval by the Commissariat Gnral lInvestissement (General Commission for Investment).

This smart grid demonstration project is led by ERDF (Electricit Rseau Distribution France), which manages the national low- and medium-voltage electricity distribution network. The other partners are electricity generation company Alstom, electric utility EDF (lectricit de France), battery manufacturer Saft, and other industrial partners and innovative SMEs such as wireless sensor company Watteco and the EDF subsidiary NetSeenergy, a specialist in energy management for buildings.

Solar energy in the Nice Grid

The Nice Grid project seeks to efficiently supply the local grid with a substantial amount of solar-generated power. Homes, businesses, and industrial facilities are being equipped with solar panels, with a target of 1 MWp (peak, i.e. nominal power) of total solar PV generation capacity. The novel aspect of the Nice Grid project is that energy storage capability is being added to the power distribution system, allowing reserve energy to be made available when needed.

When solar panels produce a surplus of energy during the day, it may be stored and used whenever it is needed to compensate for fluctuations in solar generation, cover peak demands, and generally to contribute to the balance of supply and demand within the distribution grid. The Nice Grid project is storing energy in Li-ion batteries installed at various points on the power grid.

The energy generated by the solar panels on the roofs of homes and buildings in Carros, and stored in the batteries installed throughout the grid and on the premises of volunteer consumers, will enable the district to operate as an autonomous island for transitional periods, i.e. without taking electricity from the main grid.

Lithium-ion energy storage from Saft

The Nice Grid project features energy storage as an integral part of the local power distribution network. The primary partner for the energy storage component is Paris-based Saft, a leading global specialist in the design and manufacture of high-tech batteries for industrial applications.

The project is the first life-size demonstration in mainland France of the efficiency and flexibility associated with electricity storage using Safts lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems integrated at three grid levels: at the originating substation, at several distribution substations, and at the residential level. The total storage capacity is about 1.5 MWh.

Energy storage contributes to optimising overall power flows within the smart grid, and improving the local grids capacity to use intermittent renewable energy sources. The project also enables testing of multiple functionalities including load levelling (with regard to both production and consumption of electricity), plant shutdown management, and efficient management of the multiple contributors to energy production and consumption involved in future grids.

Source: Renewable energy

Smart Grid Bulletin March 2019

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