Off the grid: Developers eye “virtual power plants” for properties

Green energy systems seen as way to offset costs, generate revenue and fortify buildings

National Weekend Edition /
Mar.March 07, 2021 12:00 PM
Rendering of Sonnen's ecoLinx home battery (Sonnen)
Rendering of Sonnen’s ecoLinx home battery (Sonnen)

A growing number of developers in the U.S. are investing in integrated solar power and battery systems for their buildings.

Advances in energy storage technology and falling prices for batteries mean these “virtual power plants” are becoming viable for a variety of buildings and uses, according to the New York Times. The technology would also create more energy independence, coming at a time when severe weather — like last month’s deep freeze in Texas that cut power to millions — has wreaked havoc on residents.

Developer Wasatch Group installed storage batteries in each of its 600 units at the firm’s “net zero” Soleil Lofts project in Herriman, Utah. The systems store energy created by solar arrays on the property, making the complex one of the better examples of using integrated power.

Collectively they can provide 12.6 megawatt hours of backup power for the building, and currently offset the costs of powering common areas, according to the report. Wasatch also signed a deal with Rocky Mountain Power that allows the energy company to tap the batteries at Soleil Lofts for power. Residents save around 30 to 40 percent on their energy bills, the Times noted, citing Wasatch.

Other developers are also exploring storage systems. Meritage Homes has demonstration projects across the U.S. to explore green tech. Related Companies installed a 4.8-megawatt battery at the Gateway Center retail complex in Brooklyn that’s used by energy company Enel X.

In New York City over the last few years, there have been several thousand solar panel installations in Brooklyn alone.

Some governments have pushed for more energy storage projects. In 2019, New York State created up to $55 million in incentives for commercial and residential storage projects on Long Island.

[NYT] — Dennis Lynch


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