In the commercial sector, the cost of energy storage is now low enough that businesses are finding it a useful addition to solar. Generally, businesses’ peak energy consumption is when electricity is most expensive, which makes energy storage especially useful.
As the cost of energy storage continues to decline, large solar companies have been integrating it into their product offerings to complement a solar system. SolarCity is one such company now offering a commercial storage system, which it calls DemandLogic. The system is relatively new but has already been installed on multiple BJ’s Wholesale stores.
Burton School District, in the heart of California’s sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley, will also house combined solar and energy storage systems from SolarCity. The district will install solar and DemandLogic to generate and store its own clean, renewable electricity at eight schools. This will be the largest combined solar and energy storage installation SolarCity has undertaken to date. It will allow the district schools to reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to lower peak demand.
SolarCity will install the district’s solar systems and battery storage at eight elementary and middle schools, as well as additional solar generation at a district office. The solar installations will total more than 1.4 MW of capacity, with storage providing an additional 360 kW (720 kWh) of power to reduce peak demand. The new solar systems are expected to save the district more than $1 million over the life of the contracts, and the DemandLogic battery storage systems could save thousands more on demand charges each year.
“With this remarkable development, Burton School District will not only stand at the leading edge of our country’s clean tech revolution, but will also reap tremendous savings in our fixed-costs at the same time,” said Burton School District superintendent Dr. Sharon Kamberg. “We will use the much needed savings to enhance our educational programs for students.”
Burton School District retained TerraVerde Renewable Partners, an independent energy adviser, to assess and scope an optimal energy cost savings program, analyze financing options, organize the RFP process, and help the district select the best candidate to meet the program’s specifications.
The new SolarCity systems are expected to generate 2,300 MWh of solar energy annually, and enough over the life of the contract to power more than 4,000 homes for a year. The solar systems will also offset over 43 million pounds of carbon dioxide and save more than 203 million gallons of water, an especially important environmental benefit in the drought-stricken valley. The entire storage project is expected to be completed by May 2015.