In 2017 the University of Minnesota released a study – Modernizing Minnesota’s Grid: An Economic Analysis of Energy Storage Opportunities – projecting that solar+storage would be more cost competitive than a natural gas peaker plant in 2018 (a quick reminder that it is more than halfway through 2018).
In the document (page 42) Connexus Energy put forth their logic for solar+storage to offset peak demand. The utility found that a majority of members were willing to pay up to 5% more for their electricity for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When they combined this with the demand charge offset that comes from solar+storage, the economics made sense, specifically for the utility. And now, as a result of an economic analysis, the utility has broken ground on two solar+energy storage facilities.
Connexus Energy is based in Ramsey, Minnesota and serves 130,000 customers in portions of seven counties in the central part of the state, particularly Anoka and Sherburne Counties. The cooperative utility began looking at batteries in 2016, but found they didn’t yet pencil. However, since then the economics have changed and now the utility projects savings of around $4 million a year through peak load reduction.
The Connexus projects consists of two solar gardens, one each in Ramsey and Isanti County’s Athens Township. The Connexus solar project is being developed by Engie, a French energy firm, while Florida’s NextEra Energy is taking care of the storage system.
The Ramsey site consists of 13,851 solar modules and totals 3.4 MW-AC. The panels will be at a fixed tilt on 1,515 piles (see image of piles above). The facility will include a 5.3 MW / 10.6 MWh lithium ion energy storage facility.
The Athens site is a 6.5 MW-AC facility with 27,189 solar modules. The facilities will be built on 2,940 individual piles. This site will be coupled with a 9.7 MW / 19.4 MWh lithium ion energy storage system.
Connexus Energy has been part of the push for pollinator-friendly solar arrays. Also located in Ramsey, MN is one of their solar plants that integrates honey production.
And with that, pv magazine would like to invite our readers to enjoy some of this wonderful solar-powered honey. The first two readers to comment on this article – with a reachable email address – will be sent an 8 oz jar of honey produced from a solar power pollinator friendly farm.