Solar Operations Solutions discusses utility-scale solar innovation, like this new XMFR-Sync Controller

Solar Operations Solutions facility

Montgomery Solar in Biscoe, NC is a 20MW facility built by O2 emc in 2015 and is running on the MyPV MCI (monitor/control/integrate) family of products by Solar Operations Solutions LLC.

According to Wood Mackenzie’s Solar Market Insight Report (Q2 2019), there were 1.6 gigawatts of utility-scale solar installed in Q1 2019, accounting for 61 percent of U.S. capacity additions this quarter. According to Brad Micallef, managing director and co-founder of Solar Operations Solutions LLC, this output is equivalent to almost two nuclear power facilities being built in 3 months. “We manage more than 100 MW across twenty large scale solar farms in North Carolina; this new growth has kept our firm very busy developing innovative services and products.”

Since 2017, when Duke Energy first imposed new interconnection audit and technical requirements, Solar-Ops has been helping local developers such as O2 emc LLC succeed in bringing new solar farms online; on-time and within budget. Micallef says, solving O2 emc’s transformer in-rush current requirement resulted in a product invention that will help speed-up new solar projects interconnection with utilities.

“Using the standard equipment available, there was not an economic or timely manner to solve the problem, so we invented what is now known at the XFMR-Sync Controller,” said Micallef. “Our industry is really just getting started – it’s very collaborative and ripe for innovation.”

Leveraging their massive fleet of fully functional solar farms to prototype, iterate, and perfect products that close gaps is integral to Solar-Ops’ mission. “It’s a very rare opportunity, to be managing more than 100MW across twenty large scale solar farms, with a wide variety of equipment to ensure products are truly utility grade, says Micallef. “Most companies who are project driven, don’t have access to equipment or the time to perfect solutions.”

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Solar Operations is launching their new XMFR-Sync Controller, designed and tested to mitigate in-rush current through a standard product offering that’s proven to pass the utility’s audit process and requirements. It’s been successfully used on solar farms throughout North Carolina, where they’re also currently preparing a solution to solve another interconnection requirement; rapid voltage change (RVC).

“The XFMR-Sync Controller is the first of several products we’re releasing to solve these new interconnection hurdles. The utility’s system study and following advanced study process take time, and are performed late in the project development stage, many solar developers are not even aware their project may have a problem to solve until after equipment is ordered,” says Micallef. “By proving out these solutions early with our partners, other developers can be reassured we’ll have solutions ready to help their solar projects succeed.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Highview Power says its CRYOBattery is scalable energy storage up to multiple gigawatts and can go anywhere

Highview Power, a leader in long-duration energy storage solutions, says it has developed a modular cryogenic energy storage system — the CRYOBattery — that is scalable up to multiple gigawatts of energy storage and can be located anywhere. A bold claim! The company says the technology will set a new benchmark for a levelized cost of storage (LCOS) of $140/MWh for a 10-hour, 200 MW/2 GWh system.

Basically, Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage system is equivalent in performance to, and could potentially replace, a fossil fuel power station. Highview Power’s systems can enable renewable energy baseload power at large scale, while also supporting electricity and distribution systems and providing energy security. The announcement coincides with its winning the 2019 Ashden Award for Energy Innovation for the CRYOBattery technology.

“Long-duration technologies such as cryogenic energy storage will become increasingly necessary for an electricity system to transition from a primary reliance on conventional fossil fuel generation to a grid dominated by variable renewable generation from solar and wind,” noted Alex Eller, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.

Inside CRYOBattery

Highview Power’s proprietary cryogenic energy storage technology uses liquid air as the storage medium. This is capable of providing all the services essential for a robust grid including time shifting, synchronous voltage support, frequency regulation and reserves, synchronous inertia, and black start capabilities. Unlike competing long-duration technologies, such as pumped hydro-power or compressed air, Highview Power’s CRYOBattery can be sited just about anywhere. The CRYOBattery has a small footprint, even at multiple gigawatt-levels, and does not use hazardous materials.

Javier Cavada, president and CEO of Highview Power, says the CRYOBattery can enable grid operators to maximize renewable penetration without needing fossil fuel generation to make up for intermittency.

“This makes replacing gas peaker power plants with a combination of solar, wind, and energy storage a viable reality and truly sets the stage for a future where 100% of the world’s electricity comes from clean energy sources,” he said.

Other locatable, long-duration energy storage technologies—such as Lithium-ion—typically offer a range of 4-8 hours of storage, whereas Highview Power’s CRYOBattery offers multiple gigawatt hours of storage, representing weeks’ worth of storage, not just hours or days.

The BLU controller

Over the last 15 years, Highview Power—through the design, construction, and operation of its CRYOBattery technology—has developed and optimized its own proprietary BLU core controller system. The system embodies the sum of Highview Power’s expertise into a complete facility management system. The BLU controller seamlessly integrates the control of all CRYOBattery components to provide optimal facility performance—managing the balance between flexibility, efficiency, and response.

The BLU controller enables a system to be configured to a particular application through the selection of individual operational modes. It also provides operation and performance monitoring feedback, ensuring a facility’s optimal efficiency. The system’s embedded flexibility further ensures that the controller has the built-in capacity to adapt as a facility’s demand varies with market development.

“After looking at a number of storage technologies, we came to the conclusion that Highview Power’s CRYOBattery is the ideal solution to deliver long-duration, large-scale storage services to our customers. The technology is not only cost-effective—it is scalable, clean, has a long lifespan, and can be deployed now,” said Joaquín García Rico, CEO of TSK, a leading global engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company. Highview Power recently announced a joint venture with TSK to co-develop CRYOBattery projects in Spain, the Middle East, and South Africa.

Highview Power has partnered with Finland-based Citec to modularize its gigawatt-scale cryogenic energy storage system. With a simplified design and streamlined engineering from Citec, a standard CRYOBattery configuration of 50 MW/500 MWh can be easily, and cost-effectively, scaled up to multiple gigawatt hours.

— Solar Builder magazine

NV Energy reveals plans for 1.2 GW of new solar projects it is building in Southern Nevada


NV Energy continues to work toward its long-term goal of serving its customers with 100 percent renewable energy, announcing the addition of nearly 1,200 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic generation to be built in the state, along with 590 megawatts of battery storage.

The renewable energy will come in the form of three projects that will be located in southern Nevada. The company will seek approval of these projects from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada as part of its integrated resource plan filing. With the addition of these new projects, NV Energy will also exceed the promise made to its customers last year to double its renewable energy by 2023.

The three new solar energy projects and three related battery-energy storage resources are the result of a competitive solicitation initiated in the fall of 2018, and will create more than 3,000 temporary jobs using project labor agreements. The use of union labor ensures the projects are constructed to the highest industry standards so they can serve Nevada’senergy needs for the long term.

In May of last year, NV Energy announced what was, at the time, the largest renewable energy expansion in Nevada’s history – six new projects totaling 1,001 megawatts of new renewable energy to be built in the state with 100 megawatts of battery storage.
Today’s newly announced projects will be added to NV Energy’s current portfolio of 57 geothermal, solar, hydro, wind, biomass and supported rooftop solar projects both in service and under development.

Each of the three announced projects are expected to be completed and serving customers by the end of 2023:

• Arrow Canyon Solar Project – 200 megawatt solar photovoltaic project with a 75 megawatt – 5 hour battery storage system. The project will be located in Clark County, NV, 20 miles northeast of Las Vegas on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Indian Reservation. It is being developed by EDF Renewables North America, a market leading independent power producer and service provider with over 30 years of expertise in renewable energy. EDF Renewables’ North American portfolio consists of 16 gigawatts of developed projects and 10 gigawatts under service contracts.

• Southern Bighorn Solar & Storage Center – 300 megawatt solar array that includes a 135 megawatt-4 hour Li-Ion battery energy storage system. The project will be built in Clark County, NV on the Moapa River Indian Reservation about 30 miles north of Las Vegas. It is being developed by 8minute Solar Energy, the largest independent developer of solar PV and storage projects in the United States, with over 15 gigawatts of solar and storage under development in California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Southeast, with more than 2 gigawatts of solar power plants now in operation.

• Gemini Solar + Battery Storage Project – 690 megawatt solar photovoltaic array coupled with a 380 megawatt AC battery storage system. The project will be located in Clark County, NV 25 miles northeast of Las Vegas on approximately 7,100 acres of federally-owned land under the management of the Bureau of Land Management. It is being developed by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners in collaboration with Arevia Power, who are managing the development phases of the project. Quinbrook is a specialist investment manager focused exclusively on lower carbon and renewable energy infrastructure investment and operational asset management.

— Solar Builder magazine

IEEFA report shows utility-scale storage has some serious momentum

Momentum is gaining around an industry shift toward utility-scale battery storage systems nationally, finds a report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The report – Advances in Electricity Storage Suggest Rapid Disruption of U.S. Electricity Sector – details upstart storage and storage-expansion projects in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, Texas, and Vermont.

IEEFA storage chart

Dennis Wamsted, an IEEFA editor/analyst and lead author of the report, said recent evidence of utility-scale storage adoption is most likely the beginning of a trend that will take hold broadly across the industry, benefitting renewables at the expense of gas- and coal-fired plants.

“Bigger changes loom,” Wamsted said. “In the many examples we researched, each project, by and large was driven by one of several value streams—cutting transmission charges, providing grid resilience, offering peak power, allowing for early plant closures and the like—even if other benefits were accrued too.”

The report details dozens of examples of electric companies large and small finding an assortment of cost savings in electricity-storage technology and portability.

“Installation is still tiny in terms of absolute numbers, but power storage is now ubiquitous and energy storage is no longer a pie-in-the sky proposition,” Wamsted said. “These changes are taking place today.”

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Excerpts from the report

• Battery storage in combination with solar can be used to facilitate closure of coal and natural gas plants currently being used largely for peaking or seasonal needs, as shown by the NV Energy decision to close the North Valmy coal plant in Nevada, and by Florida Power and Light’s’s plan to shut two aging natural gas units in Florida.

• Battery storage can be used to meet system peak needs, as SCE is doing in California in replacing the two-unit Mandalay natural gas peaker plant.

• Battery storage can be used to provide firm renewable power, as both Arizona Public Service and Hawaiian Electric are demonstrating with projects they have named, respectively, “Solar after Sunset” and “Renewable Dispatchable Generation.”

• Battery storage offers utilities significant opportunities to boost system resilience and cut costs at the same time, as is being demonstrated in a number of other projects highlighted in the report.

• Battery storage can be used to enable more residential solar systems to be installed on local distribution lines without requiring potentially costly and time-consuming system upgrades, as can be seen in an existing program in Vermont and in one being proposed in New Hampshire.

• Battery storage can be used to improve the economics of existing utility-scale solar generation, as can be seen in the discussion about Vistra’s battery storage retrofit at a Texas PV plant.

Wamsted said economies of scale will help drive the expansion of utility-scale battery storage, as will a growing recognition by utility companies of the business case for embracing the shift: “It is likely that developers and utilities will be able to stack these benefits, making storage even more economically competitive.”

— Solar Builder magazine

PXiSE Energy Solutions selected for grid management of 110-MW Pima Solar facility

solar PV data analysis

PXiSE Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, announced that its new Active Control Software (ACT) has been installed at Infraestructura Energetica Nova’s S.A.B. de C.V. 110-megawatt (MW) Pima Solar facility in Caborca, Mexico, to help manage the integration of renewable power to the electric grid.

Completed by IEnova in 2018, Pima Solar is utilizing the ACT platform for advanced supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) functions, including individual and central monitoring, system control, and frequency regulation to support operations and increase system efficiency.

“PXiSE’s ACT platform is a robust and precise tool to help us increase the efficiency of our operations,” said Carlos Barajas, chief operating officer of IEnova. “We are developing additional renewable projects in Mexico that will greatly benefit from the ACT platform’s ability to scale up and expand the use of this technology to meet our future needs on those facilities.”

PXiSE’s ACT platform provides advanced power-control capabilities and granular, real-time insights into local grid conditions by using real-time machine learning to access critical insights 240 times faster than conventional SCADA systems. The ACT platform is modular, scalable and is easily expanded to accommodate any number of additional energy resources.

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The ACT platform does not require any special equipment. It is flexible, runs on a standard Microsoft Windows operating system and uses embedded utility software developed and licensed by OSIsoft. The software uses time-stamped synchrophasor data, generated from sensors on the grid, to enhance, analyze and respond to grid data in real time.

In addition to Pima Solar, PXiSE’s ACT platform currently is in use or is being installed at Sempra Energy’s Auwahi Wind Farm in Hawaii; at Sempra headquarters in San Diego; at Con Edison’s Great Valley Solar; and in distribution grids in Australia operated by Horizon Power.

— Solar Builder magazine