For the first time, community shared solar and ENERGY STORAGE are joining forces in a model that could make community solar gardens more utility-friendly. Indeed, this project is being driven by Austin Energy as a way to smooth out the energy generated from the COMMUNITY SOLAR GARDEN. When combined with energy storage, there is no limitation to community solar gardens ability to end America’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Austin, Texas, will be home to one of the first energy storage systems tied to a community solar farm thanks to the Austin City Council approving a $3 million contract with Austin Energy and Seattle-based 1Energy Systems, Inc.
The council approved the purchase of a 1.5 megawatt energy storage system that will be sited with a new community solar farm next to Kingsbery substation in East Austin. While the battery system capacity is small by utility standards, it has been designed to allow Austin Energy to test energy storage and how it is balanced with the energy demands on the grid and voltage fluctuations, particularly on an electric feeder served by high levels of solar production. The system also allows Austin Energy to understand the potential environmental benefits of using storage to accommodate higher levels of distributed solar power.
Kurt Stogdill, Austin Energy Green Building and Sustainability Manager, noted that the project “continues Austin Energy’s innovation in clean energy for our customers… is good for the environment and it is good for our economy because it continues to grow the clean energy industry in Austin.”
Investing in renewable energy storage is part of Austin Energy’s Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan which outlines goals for acquiring 30 megawatts of energy storage by 2025. Given the recent advances made in lithium-ion batteries used in electric or hybrid vehicles, there is greater interest in using them in utility-scale energy storage.
Austin Energy’s battery storage system is slated be up and running in early 2017. It is being paid for out of the utility’s capital improvement budget which is included in the utility’s base rate. Some of the $3 million cost will be defrayed with a $1 million grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
For more information, see Austin Energy’s October 2, 2015, Press Release, Austin Energy Battery Storage Project Tied to Community Solar Moves Forward.