This PV-diesel hybrid power plant with battery storage system and an output of approximately 5 MW is designed to generate enough clean solar power to cover about half of the energy demand in the provincial capital of Cobija and neighbouring towns in northern Bolivia. The residents and companies of this area consume about 37 GWh of energy per year—and at a rate that is only increasing. Since the region is not connected to the public utility grid, power for the local grid has been produced exclusively with diesel generators. SMA is supplying six Sunny Central 800CP-XT inverters, four Sunny Central Storage 630 battery inverters and an SMA Fuel Save Controller as the central component of the hybrid system. The general contractor (EPC) for the project is Isotron S.A.U. (ISASTUR Group). The Bolivian electric utility company ENDE (Empresa Nacional de Electricidad) owns the power plant while the company Eléctrica Guarachi S.A. is tasked with project management.
Volker Wachenfeld, Senior Vice President Off-Grid & Storage at SMA, is excited about the pioneering use of the SMA Fuel Save Solution in this PV-diesel hybrid power plant, which will start supplying solar power by the end of the year. ”Thanks to our intelligent control engineering, we are able to integrate even large shares of solar power into diesel-powered grids. This reduces operating costs and CO2 emissions as well as dependence on diesel fuel. The SMA Fuel Save Solution developed to meet this technological challenge has besides the inverters the SMA Fuel Save Controller as its core component. It acts as a demand-driven controller of solar power feed-in to the interface between the diesel generator, PV array and power load. The SMA Fuel Save Controller records the energy flows in the stand-alone grid and uses that information to determine the maximum permissible PV power. In this way, we can guarantee permanent system stability and ensure smooth control of the gensets.“
Previously only about 80% of the Bolivian population had access to electricity, which is why the government has embraced new methods of power generation and supply for its citizens. According to the statement made by the government spokesman Hugo Sosa last year, the main goal is to increase that share to 95% by 2015. And renewable energy will play an important role in achieving that goal. Due to a high degree of solar irradiation, Bolivia has significant potential for solar energy use. The technical requirements for the components used here are high given that the entire Bolivian plateau, which is the most central and largest part of the country, is almost 4,000 meters in altitude. SMA is represented in South America with a subsidiary in Santiago de Chile.