01 High Energy Prices and Unreliable Grid
South Korean car maker Kia Motors operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant near Monterrey, Mexico. Opened in September 2016, the plant at full capacity can manufacture up to 400,000 small cars annually for the North America and Latin America markets. While the location has many ideal qualities for Kia, one major concern in planning the factory was electric power: Low grid reliability and high prices for energy are common challenges faced by companies doing business in Mexico. For assembly plants like Kia’s, these are enormous issues; Such plants require on average 95.1 kWh of electric power per square foot every year, and downtime reduces the plant’s real capacity and return. Kia opted to avoid the problem by bypassing the local grid entirely and draw all its power instead from a microgrid that uses seven 18MW Wärtsilä natural gas generators. However, when a generator fails or there is a spike in load, which happen frequently, productivity can be negatively affected. What was needed was a source of instantly available backup power, which is supplied today by Powin Energy systems.
02 Largest Lithium Battery in Mexico
Working with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI) and San Franciscobased Sovereign Energy Storage, Powin Energy installed a 12MW / 12MWh energy storage system to support the primary gas generation facility. The microgrid, which can generate up to 126 megawatts of capacity, provides the plant with its own self-contained power source, that allows the factory to exist “off the grid.” The microgrid provides frequency, voltage regulation, and fast spinning reserve to keep the system up and running when there is a generator failure or load spike. In performance tests, the Powin system responded to the failure of an engine in less than one-tenth of a second (100 milliseconds) and stabilized the frequency in less than half a second (500 milliseconds). The Monterrey Mexico Microgrid project uses Powin Stack 140 lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries paired with SMA 2.475 MW inverters. Powin’s LFP batteries offer longerterm chemical and thermal stability than competing battery technologies, along with lower environmental risks. The use of LFP technology also offers customers significant pricing and availability advantages in the current marketplace for key battery materials.
03 Vertical Integration
Powin’s storage system ensures consistent power quality and reliability that wouldn’t be available from the gas generators alone, or from the local grid,” said Brandon Keefe at Sovereign Energy Storage, an independent developer of large-scale battery energy storage projects. “Because of Powin’s vertical integration across the supply chain, efficient project management, and use of LFP batteries, we were able to develop, install and go operational in just over four months from execution of the limited notice to proceed.”