Decentralized Energy, POWERGEN, Solar

POWERGEN tour highlight: Learn about a pilot solar farm with a battery backup

By Elizabeth Ingram

It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful opportunity to visit a solar farm in New Orleans in mid-November, with sunny weather and clear skies.

Monday, Nov. 18, two separate groups of POWERGEN International attendees loaded onto buses and headed out on a technical tour being offered of a solar farm within the New Orleans city limits. The site was a 1-MW solar PV station with a 500-kW/500 kWh distribution grid-tied battery.

This pilot facility, owned by Entergy, is a living R&D project. The intent is to use this location to evaluate the ability to store and deliver solar energy to the electricity grid when customers need it, not just when the sun is shining.

This site covers 11 acres and cost $6 million to develop.

Entergy broke ground on this solar farm in February 2016 and it was operational in just a few months. The site consists of the PV array, with more than 4,000 solar panels; the GP Tech inverters/converters; and an LG Chem Li-OH storage battery.

The solar array is equipped with single-axis trackers so the panels can move, i.e. track the sun. This allows the company to generate about 20% more power vs. static panels, according to Entergy.

The battery features a 10-year warranty and is anticipated to have a 30-year life.

Ultimately, Entergy hopes to use the lessons learned to help it build a 100-MW solar array. Entergy says that site would require about 12,00 acres.

If you’re interested in learning more about this facility, two more tours are being offered on Thursday, Nov. 21. Click here to learn more and to register.