A new test for urban microgrids
Scale Microgrid Solutions, a sustainable-energy company that designs and finances energy projects, wants to tackle the urban solar conundrum in the shadow of Capitol Hill.
Why it matters: A successful solar project in an urban area is much harder to come by than those in open spaces. Overcoming the complex challenges and space limitations is key to wide-scale solar deployment.
Driving the news: Scale Microgrid Solutions developed and financed an energy project for Washington, D.C.,-based Gallaudet University.
- The project's design is already underway, Scale CEO Ryan Goodman tells Axios, and the university is expected to flip the switch by late 2023.
By the numbers: Goodman says the Gallaudet project was particularly challenging due to its urban location.
- Its microgrid consists of 2.5 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic panels spread across numerous campus rooftops, dorms and parking garages.
- It also includes a Tesla Megapack 1.2 MW/2.5 MWh lithium-ion battery for energy storage.
- The last component is a 4.5 MW combined cooling, heat and power system.
- It is forecast to generate much of the university's energy needs, Scale says, with any additional power going to buildings in the community.
State of play: Urban solar deployments remain out of vogue for many energy producers, largely because of the engineering feats associated with constructing rooftop solar on buildings of various sizes and heights.
- It is still most common for energy producers to transport energy from far-flung solar farms to higher-density areas, losing some of that power in the process.
- At Gallaudet, instead of laying new cable to connect the university's grid to the utility, Scale's design connects directly to the university's existing electrical infrastructure that is monitored by the utility, cutting a costly component of urban microgrid deployment.
💭 Our thought bubble: Scale's project is still more than a year away from generating meaningful power, so it's too early to tell whether the project could be a model for further urban solar projects.
- But the project itself indicates a growing risk tolerance of project designers and financiers to look beyond traditional solar farms as the overall costs of solar components continue to drop.