Solar-plus-storage microgrids to replace diesel generators in Mojave water conservation project


Scale Microgrid Solutions, a developer using distributed solar, battery storage and combined heat and power (CHP) generation, will bring a solar-powered microgrid system to the Mojave Desert with water conservation partner Cadiz, Inc.

At the Cadiz Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage project, a 50,000 acre-feet per year project that captures groundwater before it evaporates, Scale Microgrid will deploy systems across a network of 25 to 30 production wells.

Scale Microgrid, a Ridgewood, N.J.-based project developer, will outfit each Cadiz well with a 1.12 MW ground-mounted solar array paired with a 634 kW / 2.66 MWh battery system, and 380 kW low-emissions CHP generation system.

The distributed generation systems will be tied together with smart controls and a switchboard. The microgrid and control system will enable remote monitoring, providing 100% uptime reliability and lower maintenance costs over the life of the systems.

Cadiz currently manages a groundwater basin in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, Calif., using diesel generators that power an off-grid wellfield that spans across more than 1,300 acres. The solar-hybrid microgrids are expected to lower energy costs by more than 30%, provide 100% uptime reliability and cut carbon emissions from fossil fuels by more than 75%.

“Microgrid technology has improved to the point where shifting to clean energy is now the most cost-effective way to operate off-grid,” said Susan Kennedy, executive chairwoman of Cadiz. “Our mission is to deliver clean, reliable and affordable water to people. Scale’s solar-hybrid microgrid systems can give us the reliability we need at significantly lower cost while reducing emissions as much as 75%, demonstrating that clean energy and clean water go hand-in-hand.”

The water conservation company produces more than 1.8 billion gallons of recycled water to the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD). This represents 5,000 acre-feet of water, covering about 20% of the southern California water authority’s annual water usage. Recycled water is used for irrigation, including parks, golf courses, municipal and homeowner association landscaping.

Cadiz’s project water is conveyed to SMWD and other water providers through a 43-mile pipeline connecting to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which delivers water to the providers’ supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The water conservation company expects to have up to 30 production wells in operation when the conservation project is fully constructed. The company’s 220-mile Northern Pipeline, an unused natural gas pipeline that will be converted to carry water, will transport 11 million tons of water each year to remote and underserved communities across Southern California.

“It takes a lot of energy to produce and move that much water,” Kennedy said. “With Scale’s clean energy microgrid design, we will be able to deliver that water reliably, sustainably and cost-effectively.”

Scale Microgrid designs, constructs, finances, owns and operates distributed energy assets that utilize solar photovoltaics, battery storage and low-emissions CHP systems, providing off-grid power for power intensive applications such as water pumping, agriculture and other commercial and industrial use. The company is backed by the energy transition and sustainability fund group of Warburg Pincus, a global private equity investor.

In March, Scale closed a $225 million project debt financing from KeyBank Capital Markets and City National Bank to fund the construction and operations of a microgrids, combined heat and power (CHP) systems, solar and storage projects such as the Mojave portfolio in California, plus other projects in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York.

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