The Saft energy storage system, based on nickel-based battery technology, will store energy from the island’s isolated grid and then deliver it as required to provide backup power to maintain a stable power grid.

Bonaire is a small island of around 250sqkm located 80km north of the coast of Venezuela. The island’s main power plant burnt down in 2004, so until recently its annual power consumption of 75,000MWh was met by a set of rented container (light-fuel) diesel generator systems.

The new sophisticated power scheme, developed by the Dutch-German consortium EcoPower Bonaire on behalf of Water en Energie Bedrijf Bonaire, will enable the island to switch to eco-friendly energy, with 12 wind turbines providing a total of 11MW and a 14MW biodiesel power plant.

Saft was called in by consortium member Enercon, a wind turbine and system supplier, to develop and supply the battery energy storage system. Its main role is to maintain power quality and continuity of supply in critical situations, such as a sudden increase in demand or failure of a wind turbine or diesel generator, preventing the possibility of a power black-out.

The battery system has already been built by Saft and is undergoing customer acceptance tests in preparation for delivery to the site in Bonaire in the first quarter of 2010.

Xavier Delacroix, general manager of IBG division at Saft, said: “The Bonaire project is a further example of the steadily increasing recognition that energy storage technology will play a key role in the successful delivery of renewable energy schemes. Saft’s advanced battery technology and growing experience in renewable energy applications mean that we are well positioned to support this type of project with reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy storage systems.”