Xcel Energy is partnering with battery manufacturers, Sunverge Energy and Northern Reliability (NRI) in a two-year pilot project to study the performance of rooftop solar with residential and utility-scale battery storage systems in two Denver neighborhoods. Xcel will evaluate cost, reliability and environmental viability in a small, concentrated study area as part of the Innovative Clean Technology Program in order to understand how to accommodate more solar into its electric generation network.
“For the program, Xcel Energy is testing six in-home, behind-the-meter battery units and six larger, utility-scale units along the feeder that serves the majority of the North Central Park and Eastbridge neighborhoods,” said Beth Chacon, Xcel Energy’s director of grid storage and emerging technologies. “We chose the Stapleton area because it has among the highest concentrations of rooftop installations in the Denver area.”
Sunverge will couple 15.5 kilowatt hour (kWh) in-home battery systems with existing rooftop solar arrays in the Stapleton and Eastbridge neighborhoods in spring of 2017. Xcel will evaluate individual systems’ efficiency and study the effect of combining those systems to act as virtual power plants using cloud-based software.
NRI will provide, utility-scale battery systems ranging in capacity from 18 kWhs to 54 kWhs. The batteries will be placed on both ends of the distribution feed. Data collected is designed to help reduce voltage spikes, improve ways to distribute stored power during peak usage hours and reduce energy costs.
“The resiliency and redundancy provided by these systems, spread out through multiple neighborhoods, is incredibly forward thinking. This is exciting as it brings distributed storage resources one step closer to widespread adoption. This kind of innovation furthers the goals of increasing the penetration of renewable generators while simultaneously protecting the utilities from variances in the power quality,” said Jay Bellows, CEO of NRI.
Solar installations with battery systems are expected to drive future renewable energy market growth. Utilities around the US have started evaluating the benefits that solar with storage has on grid resiliency. For instance, Sunverge, Con Edison and SunPower are providing 300 New York homes with a total of 1.8 megawatt hours of battery storage systems and 1.8 megawatts of rooftop solar to demonstrate how microgrids can benefit the overall grid while providing uninterrupted energy to customers.Tweet