E.ON Selects Saft’s Nickel Battery as More Reliable Drop-in Replacement for Lead Acids

September 26, 2019 by Paul Shepard

E.ON has upgraded the backup power batteries at one of its distribution substations in the north west of Hungary in a pilot project, by switching from lead-acid to Saft's nickel-based batteries. The objective is to show how the latest Saft technology can be installed as a direct plug-and-play replacement for time-served lead-acid batteries. The site is one of the first to benefit from Saft's latest Uptimax maintenance-free nickel battery, which was launched end 2018.

The Uptimax is a new breed of nickel battery that can charge fully at a single rather than dual voltage level. As a result, E.ON will be able to upgrade the batteries while retaining the existing charger.

Saft Uptimax nickel battery technology offers long-term value over the lifetime of an installation. It provides a long operational life, high availability and reliability. Unlike lead-acid, Uptimax nickel batteries do not experience sudden death or need any maintenance. In addition, they can accept fast charging for a rapid return to service after a power outage, reducing risk as well as backup requirements.

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Previous models of nickel batteries required a higher charge voltage, which called for the replacement of the existing battery chargers or an upgrade to adjust the charge voltage. However, these are not required for the latest generation of Uptimax, easing the installation and decreasing the overall cost of DC systems.

Roland Knobloch, Saft's Sales Manager for Central Europe said: "By installing the latest Saft Uptimax nickel batteries, E.ON will benefit from long-term reliability, maintenance-free operation and rapid return to service - all without replacing or upgrading its battery charger. We believe that this is the first of many successes for the new Uptimax."

Saft is supplying two nickel battery systems, each made up of 170 Uptimax 195Ah cells and manufactured at Saft's factory in Oskarshamn, Sweden, through Statron Hungary, the integrator for industrial power supplies. The two firms formed a partnership in 2017 to identify potential sites to replace existing lead-acid batteries in Hungary's 120kV distribution grid.

Substations require battery backup power systems to operate switchgear, as well as monitoring and control systems, in the case of an outage. The batteries provide the power to reconfigure the network and clear faults so that operators can carry out network repairs safely.