Plugging into renewable energy
Sébastien Hita Perona joined Saft earlier this year as General Manager of the Energy Storage Solution (ESS) segment in our newly named ESS & Mobility (E&M) division. We caught up with Sébastien to discuss strategy, new products, and his vision of this growing market.
Before we jump into the business end of things, please share with us your reasons for joining Saft.
I have been in the power generation and renewables industries for over 20 years. Being able to join a major player in energy storage, with expertise accumulated over more than 100 years, was a natural path for me. Indeed, Saft, with the support of Total, has a clear strategy to develop in this field, and we have a fantastic opportunity to take renewable energy to the next level by addressing the intermittency challenge. We are building something that has to last for generations, a future combining renewable energy and storage.
Tell us a bit more about the renewed scope and strategy of ESS within Saft.
Our energy storage solutions are designed to serve utility-scale installations, microgrids, and commercial and industrial applications. Within the ESS segment, we help our customers eliminate curtailment of
renewables, address supply and demand balancing, on top of ensuring grid stability.
We achieve this by maximizing our energy output and simplifying interfaces during installation with our factory-assembled and tested containers, which reduces on-site assembly time and cost to our customers. We also minimize risk through our proven lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology, our established track record and our end-to-end safety approach.
With a strong focus on outcomes, value and safety, our strategy is driven by our responsiveness to market changes. Currently, the ESS market is growing fast, particularly for plants capable of ensuring security of power supply at times of high demand. The market is expected to reach a 34 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of installed base by 2025. That means the scale of our projects is increasing from tens of MWh to hundreds of MWh.
This market visibility attracts new entrants such as utilities and major developers who shape demand and strengthen the financing of projects. We, therefore, adapted our organization and solutions to address such major players by providing agile and seamless services from initial concept and sizing to battery system delivery and grid connection.
With a footprint spanning five continents and 19 countries, and three strategic manufacturing plants in Bordeaux (France), Jacksonville (USA) and Zhuhai (China), we’re well placed to service the global ESS market. Our project teams and technical experts work directly with customers during the lifetime of each project. So, by working with Saft, a customer can expect a standard ESS suited to their needs that offers optimum business value, performance and reliability.
The market is expected to reach a 34 GWh of installed base by 2025. That means the scale of our projects is increasing from tens of MWh to hundreds of MWh.Sébastien Hita-Perona General Manager of the Energy Storage Solution (ESS) segment
What are the main challenges and objectives of the new Saft ESS strategy?
The main change in our new ESS strategy is that we are moving beyond being simply the battery supplier. We now offer flexible services and solutions to be a one-stop shop where customers can purchase fully integrated energy storage solutions and microgrid technology solutions.
Cost, and especially total cost of ownership (TCO) is the primary consideration to make the energy storage industry sustainable in the long term. Recently, Saft finalized three critical moves to help reach this objective. First, we have a cells and modules supply agreement with a Chinese supplier for cost optimization. Then there is the recent acquisition of Go Electric (GoE), a specialist in energy resiliency solutions for microgrids and commercial and industrial customers who need to integrate renewables and other power sources.
Most importantly, we have a new joint venture with Tianneng Energy Technology, Tianneng Saft Energy, to expand our Li-ion activity. Manufacturing is based at their Changxing Gigafactory in China with a potential capacity of 5.5 GWh. The benefits for us include long-term access to competitive cells/modules, access to mass production capacity, and improved economies of scale.
What are Saft’s key new products?
Recently, we launched a new containerized storage product in 2.5 MWh ‘blocks’ in direct response to growing customer demand for energy as well as power. The Intensium Max 20 High Energy (HE) – with 1.2 MW power and 2.5 MWh energy storage – is an unmanned and ready-to-install ESS built to address peak shaving and renewables with intermittency.
Fully fitted out and tested at the factory, the compact, integrated system combines best-in-class energy density and efficiency with high levels of safety and operational reliability. Because it is housed in a standard 20-foot container it is easy to transport, a critical factor for many customers.
The single replicable design makes it easier for us to distribute and manufacture the Intensium Max 20 HE at a global level. All units are produced and tested at our three manufacturing hubs in Europe, North America and Asia.
Additionally, our competitive Intensium Max 20 High Energy (HE) can be perfectly combined with our new microgrid technology solutions acquired through GoE. Therefore, ESS brings a compelling and affordable solution to our customers who face costly outages and who are looking for disruption-proof grid solutions.
What particularly excites you about Saft’s future in energy storage?
Beyond growing the local economies of our three global manufacturing hubs, our acquisition and growth strategy allow us to further expand our scope of expertise from battery design and manufacture to the deployment of turnkey distributed renewable energy storage solutions.
We find ourselves in an energy market that’s about to experience fast-paced growth. I believe Saft is well positioned to meet the stability, reliability and intermittency challenges inherent to the grid-integration of renewables, in an expert and sustainable manner.