New Industry Products

Saft Offers New Ni-MH Modules Specifically Designed For Small Off-Grid Renewable Energy Systems

May 28, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Saft now offers a range of Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable battery modules specifically designed to meet the needs of off-grid photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy systems. The company claims that the Smart VHT Module range offers better performance, lower total cost-of-ownership (TCO), improved integration and a better environmental profile than traditional batteries.

According to Saft, stand-alone renewable energy sources are increasingly popular in applications ranging from street lighting and signage, water supply and irrigation, weather stations and environmental sensors, wireless local area networks and navigation aids. These applications benefit from reliable, maintenance-free, long-life energy storage. However, Saft states that renewable energy storage in highly distributed, often remote locations, in uncontrolled environments is characterized by a high number of shallow cycles, with erratic charge current and time, and often under extremes of temperature. Today’s lead-acid storage batteries do not cope well in these conditions, and suffer from limited life, poor reliability and even sudden death – leading to high maintenance and replacement costs.

Despite its higher initial cost, Saft says that the Ni-MH chemistry of the Smart VHT Module range has been shown to reduce total cost of ownership by 45%, or more, when operating over a 15-year period in such applications. This is said to be thanks to its longer life (typically 3-5 times), better failure resistance and wider temperature tolerance than lead-acid technology.

The design and production of the VHT range have been optimized to minimize water and energy consumption, reduce the production of greenhouse gases and toxic waste, diminish negative effects on global warming and the ozone layer, and curb the unnecessary depletion of natural resources.

The Smart VHT Module enables direct integration of smart electronics, such as seamless charge/discharge management, battery condition logging and accurate state of health indicator, removing the need for separate PV controllers.

"All these features add up to a breakthrough technology for off-grid energy storage," says Blake Frye, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Saft Specialty Battery Group. "This cutting-edge Ni-MH technology offers an ideal solution for reliable, long-life and high-performance energy storage for small off-grid PV systems."

Smart VHT Modules are available in 12, 24 and 36V versions in 10Ah capacity increments (up to 80Ah). These modules can also be housed in a ruggedized aluminum casing providing added protection from the elements. They are directly interchangeable with traditional Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) battery modules.