A U.S. grid interconnection project has the potential to more than double wind and solar generation connections according to energy software provider Smarter Grid Solutions, which has delivered a U.S. grid integration project in partnership with AVANGRID.
The Flexible Interconnect Capacity Solution (FICS) project has connected three new 5 MW PV solar farms in Spencerport, New York to AVANGRID’s electric network using the Strata Grid Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) platform.
The application of the DERMS technology reduces grid integration costs compared to traditional connection costs and, according to the project designers, is believed to be the first-of-its-kind in the United States. The technology allows large-scale producers of renewable energy resources to connect to a power network even if the network is believed to be at full capacity.
Stuart McMahon, principal smart grid engineer at Smarter Grid Solutions, said, “Each of these three solar farms produce five megawatts of electricity – enough to potentially overload existing local grid capacity. In the past, they would have initially been rejected from being able to connect to the grid until structural upgrades were made to increase this capacity and ensure a ‘firm’ interconnection. The costs of these upgrades are commonly the responsibility of the energy resource developer – costing millions of dollars and making many projects commercially and financially unviable.
“Our DERMS technology allows large-scale producers of renewable energy resources like these to more efficiently connect to the electric power grid by removing this risk. The Strata Grid platform supports flexible interconnection agreements by applying real-time control capability to distributed energy resources – as demonstrated at the new solar farms in Spencerport. In a nutshell, it prevents additional renewable energy assets from overloading grid assets and, in doing so, optimizes grid capacity whilst avoiding the upgrades and resulting costs that would be required under a firm interconnection.”
The FICS project is one of AVANGRID’s several efforts to support New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, which aims to change the way electrical grids work within the state. The Spencerport solar PV projects were initially approved for a combined 2.6 MW of firm connection. However, using Strata Grid technology, the full 15 MW interconnected.
Flexible interconnection technology has matured in the UK over the past 10 years, with SGS having successfully deployed Strata Grid DERMS technology across multiple utilities, including UK Power Networks, SP Energy Networks and Western Power Distribution. The FICS project may represent a launchpad for faster and larger renewable energy developments across the U.S. and European energy infrastructure markets.
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