Jody Beasley, the general manager of Saft America’s Jacksonville plant, has worked for battery manufacturers almost 30 years. He’s a veteran of the battery business. Given this perspective, it’s interesting to hear that Beasley believes the work he’s doing right now at Saft Jacksonville is some of the coolest work he’s ever done.
“We’re changing the world,” Beasley said, simply.
Changing the world. That’s a big claim, but the work quietly going on at Saft’s Jacksonville plant where lithium-ion batteries are manufactured actually qualifies.
“We produce big batteries that are half the size of a semitrailer,” Beasley said.
Those batteries are then connected to a variety of energy-producing systems like solar arrays or windmill farms. They get charged up in the daytime when there’s an abundance of sun or wind, and discharged by utilities during peak usage times in the early evening.
“This way the utility doesn’t have to crank up the gas turbines to provide energy to customers during peak demand,” Beasley said.
One of Saft Jacksonville’s biggest customers is a utility in San Diego, which has placed a handful of these lithium-ion storage systems on its electric grid. Saft Jacksonville has also manufactured lithium-ion batteries for projects stretching from the Arctic Circle to the Caribbean to Hawaii.
“These storage systems really help in places where the grid is not well-developed and needs to be more stabilized,” Beasley said. “They’re also popular in places like California where customers want their utility to be greener.”
The city has President Obama to thank for the Saft America plant in Jacksonville. Saft agreed to build here after it received a $100 million grant from the federal government as part of the Obama Administration’s Recovery Act, a stimulus package designed to invest in jobs, infrastructure, education and clean energy.