Today, Governor Martin O’Malley, joined by FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and executives from Standard Solar, Konterra and Solar Grid Storage, dedicated Maryland’s first commercial solar microgrid at Konterra headquarters in Laurel. The 402 -solar microgrid system, a grid-interactive energy storage system co-located with a new 1,368-panel photovoltaic (PV) canopy array, is also recognized as one of the first commercial solar microgrids in the nation. The benefits of the system include generation of 20 percent of the annual building power for the Konterra headquarters as well as two electric vehicle charging stations, and LED parking lot lighting. Quantified, the power is equivalent to the electrical usage of about 57 American homes for one year or removing 90 passenger vehicles from the roads per year.
“We invested in this project through our MEA Grant Changer Program because in Maryland we know that if we want better results, we have to make better choices. Better choices like making solar energy a priority,” said Governor O’Malley. “Since 2007, we’ve multiplied by 1,500 the amount of solar power on the state’s grid. In the process, we’ve created 2,000 new jobs. These are modern, innovative investments that lead to jobs and a greener economy.”
This innovative renewable energy project, which brings Maryland closer to reaching its goal of increasing Maryland’s in-state renewable generation to 20 percent by 2022, combines the strengths of Maryland’s booming solar energy market and the power of grid resiliency. In the event of a conventional power grid outage, the innovative solar PV array will stay online through the power of an advanced energy storage system. If grid power grid goes down, the system batteries will keep a “critical load” of 50 kW online for just over four hours at night and recharge the next day.
“Energy storage not only provides substantial value to the electric grid, it makes the integration of solar PV and other distributed generation systems reliable, efficient and cost-effective as well,” said FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. “Distributed storage is an important piece of the puzzle as we deploy new resources to generate energy.”
“This solar energy storage project is a milestone in the evolution of energy generation. It is the beginning of what will be a smarter, more resilient grid as more renewables with storage are deployed,” said Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage. “Successfully pairing reliable emissions-free solar power with energy storage provides a range of additional new benefits: emergency back up during power outages, grid stability, and peak demand reduction. Simply put, PV plus storage is ushering in the grid of the future.”
“For years the solar industry has recognized that widespread implementation of grid-connected energy storage systems would be key to solar PV becoming a mainstream energy source,” said Tony Clifford, CEO, Standard Solar. “Today, we dedicate one such system, marking a huge step for solar microgrids and the industry overall.”
“Konterra is excited to power up with solar energy coupled with innovative storage capacity while now contributing to the ambitious Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard goal that Maryland has set for 2022,” said Melissa Gould, Director of Sustainability Initiatives for Konterra. “Konterra strives to be a sustainable mixed-use community in which healthy living and working environments incorporate cutting-edge technologies and renewable energy solutions. We anticipate that this microgrid prototype will encourage the development of similar facilities on surface lots and roof tops across the state and the nation.”
Funding for the project comes from the MEA Game Changer Competitive Grant Program comes from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, which was created from public auctions of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Additional project funding was provided by Konterra, PNC Bank and Solar Grid Storage.
— Solar Builder magazine