US electric cooperative Connexus Energy said construction has started in Minnesota on an “innovative” solar-plus-batteries project that will manage peak demand.
Connexus said advanced lithium-ion battery storage units will be integrated for a total of 15 megawatts of storage capacity at two solar array sites— in Ramsey and Athens Township.
The utility said it was thought to be one of the first in the country to use batteries integrated with a solar array to manage peak demand.
Connexus CEO Greg Ridderbusch said: “Most solar energy is produced when there is lower demand and the price is lower. Our plan is to discharge the stored solar energy during peak hours, when energy costs are the highest. We refer to this as time-shifting solar energy to a time of day when it has more value.”
Engie North America (formerly SoCore Energy) is the partner for the solar portion of the project and NextEra Energy Resources is supplying the battery storage.
A NextEra subsidiary will build, own, and operate the two separate battery energy storage facilities.
The Ramsey and Athens Township solar arrays with the integrated storage will be in service before the end of this year.
A University of Minnesota report published last year said “when environmental benefits are considered, combined energy storage and solar arrays can be a more cost-effective alternative in Minnesota… to natural gas peaking plants, which are fired up only to meet peak demand”.