The battery systems will be the first Li-ion high-energy systems to be installed in a substation backup power application.

RTE launched the €32 million Smart Grid Substations Project in 2013 in response to fast growth of renewable energy. Working under the French Environment and Energy Management Agency’s (ADEME’s) Future Investment Programme, RTE is establishing two substations in the Somme (North of France), where wind penetration is the highest. Blocaux substation will be the first site to receive Saft’s Intensium Flex system, while a second site is planned for the future.

The substations are being upgraded with the latest state-of-the-art substation control and automation equipment to enable better knowledge of grid operations in real time and greater efficiency. Being equipped with intelligent equipment and a secure communication network, they will be able to automatically optimize power flows, adapt to changes in supply and demand and re-route power following outages. The project is preparing the way for a roll out of smart substation technology across France in stages from 2020.

“RTE’s Smart Grid Substations Project is an exciting milestone in the development of intelligent power distribution in France,” said Mohamed Fourati, Saft’s Sales Manager for Stationary Batteries in France, “Supplying Intensium® Flex for the Smart Substations Project demonstrates Saft’s capability to supply a battery system that closely matches RTE’s specification and positions Saft for the future roll-out of smart grid technologies.”

Saft is supplying its Intensium Flex battery system to supply backup energy for essential command and control equipment at the Blocaux 225/90 kV substation. After positive on-site testing results, operation within the main power system of this first smart grid substation has just started.

Li-ion technology offers many advantages over conventional lead-acid batteries. First, it is smaller and lighter, therefore requires less space and handling. In addition, the electronic battery management system can connect to a substation’s SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system for remote monitoring.

Plus, being modular, the Intensium® Flex battery system can be built up to closely match the system requirements. The Blocaux system will deliver 11 kW at 110 V for up to four hours of autonomous operation.