Energy Storage North America Names Denver Solar+Storage Microgrid a 2017 Innovation Awards Finalist

19 Jun 2017

A Panasonic-led solar-plus-storage microgrid at Peña Station NEXT (Peña), a 382-acre smart city development in Denver, has been named an Energy Storage North America (ESNA) 2017 Innovation Awards finalist. This industry accolade follows on the heels of the microgrid earning an Environmental Leader 2017 Top Project of the Year award earlier this month. Project partners include Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, Xcel Energy, Denver International Airport, LC Fulenwider, Inc., and Younicos. Partners share microgrid assets and benefits in a multi-stakeholder “portfolio” model that helps the utility modernize and manage its electricity grid with innovative technologies, aids grid integration of solar PV, strengthens resilience (including through backup power) for customers and critical loads, and supports the sustainability goals of diverse organizations.

ESNA, the largest industry event for policy, technology, and market leaders in the energy storage industry, organizes the annual Innovation Awards to recognize projects that are helping to transform the energy storage ecosystem by enabling the transition to a clean, affordable, resilient, and reliable power grid and opening new markets for energy storage. Finalists were selected based on projects’ impact on this ecosystem, including services supplied to customers and the grid and unique technology applications. Eight finalists in two categories—Centralized Storage (utility-scale) and Distributed Storage (commercial, industrial or residential)—are competing through July 7 to win the award for their category. Winners will be determined solely through public voting and announced at the upcoming ESNA Conference and Expo, held August 8–10 in San Diego.

“Recognition from ESNA’s prestigious Innovation Awards validates our approach to unlocking the potential of energy storage solutions and renewably powered microgrids,” said George Karayannis, VP of CityNOW, Panasonic’s North American smart city initiative that is a driving force for a comprehensive suite of smart and sustainable solutions deployed at transit-oriented development Peña Station NEXT. “What makes this project so unique is how we’re leveraging multiple value streams and sharing assets in a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership model that brings together utilities, cities, technology companies, and other partners.”

Where many microgrids are utilized by a single entity (e.g., military, corporate, or college campuses), the portfolio microgrid at Peña includes a set of assets that are shared between stakeholders:

  • 1.6 MWdc carport solar photovoltaic (PV) system
  • 259 kWdc rooftop solar PV array atop Panasonic’s facility
  • Anchor electricity load at Panasonic’s Technology and Business Solutions Center
  • 1 MW / 2MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS)
  • Switching/control systems to operate the BESS and microgrid functionality

As an example of the portfolio model for sharing microgrid assets, Denver International Airport owns the parking lot and carport structure at Peña; Xcel Energy owns and operates the solar PV system atop the structure under a long-term lease; and Panasonic performs the operations and maintenance on the system.

The BESS, owned and operated by Xcel Energy, leverages the microgrid assets to perform a stack of five distinct but complementary use cases that aid grid integration of solar energy, improve power quality and reliability for C&I customers like Panasonic, and improve operations of Xcel Energy’s distribution grid. The ability to stack value streams through a multi-use microgrid strengthens project economics, even in advance of continued cost declines for battery energy storage.

“Recent years have seen a number of substantial advancements and innovative deployments with battery energy storage,” said Jamie Evans, managing director of the Energy Solutions Group at Panasonic Enterprise Solutions. “We’re honored to be included among award finalists that include such notable achievements as grid-scale storage to offset California’s Aliso Canyon gas leak, SDG&E’s project tapping energy storage as a reliable peaking resource, and an urban microgrid in Brooklyn, NY.”

The announcement of ESNA Innovation Award finalists comes as the U.S. energy storage market experienced its largest quarter to date. According to GTM Research, in Q1 2017 the U.S. deployed 234 MWh of energy storage, compared to 336 MWh of storage deployment in all of 2016.

Voting for the 2017 Innovation Awards will remain open through July 7 via the ESNA website: https://esnaexpo.com/awards/voting. One vote per user will count toward the final results.