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Solar-plus-storage project shares insights

The Peña Station NEXT project used a public-private partnership approach that resulted in a multi-stakeholder “portfolio microgrid”

Peña Station NEXT in Denver, home to the microgrid and solar plus storage project
Peña Station NEXT in Denver, home to the microgrid and solar plus storage project

A unique solar-plus-storage microgrid project is underway at Denver’s smart and sustainable transit-oriented development, Peña Station NEXT. It is the product of a partnership between tech company Panasonic, energy provider Xcel Energy, Denver International Airport, energy storage systems firm Younicos, and real estate company LC Fulenwider.


This microgrid aids renewable energy grid integration and strengthens grid resilience through backup power and grid support services such as peak-shaving and frequency regulation. It also claims to benefit diverse stakeholders and the entire power grid through a multi-use, lithium-ion energy storage battery system.


Those involved have published a white paper on the project, A Portfolio Microgrid in Denver, Colorado: How a multi-use battery energy storage system provides grid and customer services through a public-private partnership.


“We’re so excited about this portfolio microgrid – and sharing insights via this white paper -- because of how a system such as this can unlock more benefits for more stakeholders,” said Peter Bronski, a co-author from Panasonic. “And how this public-private partnership approach to the microgrid and the battery system’s stacked use cases can strengthen the overall economics and value propositions.”


Many microgrids and energy storage systems are deployed for single use cases by single entities, such as a corporation pursuing demand charge reductions or a university campus strengthening energy resilience. By contrast, the Peña Station NEXT project used a public-private partnership approach that resulted in a multi-stakeholder “portfolio microgrid.”


“As part of Xcel Energy’s Innovative Clean Technologies programme in Colorado, we’re eager to demonstrate how energy storage can integrate more solar energy on our system. We’ll also examine how battery systems can become more cost effective by supporting the grid and providing reliability for customers,” said Beth Chacon, director grid storage and emerging technologies, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest investor-owned utility.


The Xcel Energy feeder for Peña Station NEXT already has 20 per cent solar penetration and is expected to have 30 per cent solar penetration by the time the microgrid project is completed in the first half of 2017.


The 382-acre transit-oriented development links downtown Denver with Denver International Airport (DEN) and is located adjacent to the Regional Transportation District’s 61st and Peña rail station along the University of Colorado A Line train.


Peña Station NEXT is an anchor of an emerging “live, work, play” aerotropolis around DEN, a proving ground for diverse smart and sustainable technologies before broader deployment, and the first major North American development to incorporate Panasonic’s global smart city experience.


Peña Station NEXT’s portfolio microgrid includes a 1.6 MWdc carport solar PV system (located on a DEN parking lot and carport structure but with the solar PV system owned and operated by Xcel Energy under lease with DEN), a 259 kWdc rooftop solar PV array installed atop Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company’s building using Panasonic HIT solar PV modules, and a Younicos 1 MW/2 MWh lithium-ion battery system with inverter and controls, integrated in the company’s innovative Y.Cube system.


Panasonic’s Denver operations hub building, which has an intelligent building energy management system, will serve as the initial anchor load for the microgrid.


“Multi-resource microgrids that serve different use cases, like the one at Peña Station NEXT, are the types of deployments that will transform the grid on both sides of the meter,” said Jayesh Goyal, chief commercial officer of Younicos. “Our Y.Cube system is ideal for this type of commercial application: fully integrated components with batteries, plug-and-play functionality, and intelligent software to handle various control modes – essentially ‘storage in a box’. We’re proud to be part of this forward-looking project.”


The battery energy storage system will deploy five use cases: solar energy grid integration via solar smoothing ramp control and solar time shifting; grid peak demand reduction; energy arbitrage; frequency regulation; and back-up power for Panasonic’s network operations centre.


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