Over the last two decades, solar panel efficiencies have increased dramatically, with today’s typical panel efficiency ranging from 12-27%, although efficiencies of more than 40% have been achieved (NREL).
It is becoming widely recognized that the cost of electrical power from solar generation is already below that of conventional centralized thermal electricity generation in many parts of the world. In most of the
Today’s solar panel and lithium-ion battery technology maturity and pricing has made continuous power practical for remote site power generation. Pine Creek builds special multisite distributed power systems for mobile towers located in rural Africa and Latin America.
Energy storage has become a critical component for both centralized and distributed power systems as greater percentages of intermittent and renewable power generation such as solar and wind are added to the grid. Since the discovery of electricity, energy storage has been used to reduce the cost of power. Mainly because of cost, only recently have electrochemical batteries gained widespread usage for energy storage.
The renewable-based power systems designed, constructed and operated by Pine Creek, predominantly use lithium-ion battery systems for energy storage. In recent years there have been considerable research and developments for new battery systems with improved energy densities and cycling performance, making battery storage cost effective. Pine Creek has working relationships with several large established battery manufacturing companies that have proven battery products with enforceable warranty policies.
MicrogridsA microgrid, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy Microgrid Exchange Group, is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected or island-mode.
As the cost of renewable energy generation technologies decline, combined with the mainstream availability of cost-effective battery energy storage systems, microgrids are becoming cost competitive for certain utility and non-utility applications. Microgrids can offer lower cost of operation when benefits such as transmission/distribution or system upgrade deferment, outage reduction, enhanced energy efficiency, easier integration and control and other ancillary services and benefits are realized for a single site.
Microgrids also offer benefits such as black-start capabilities, increased grid resiliency and often impact the environment in a greatly reduced manner due to their ability to significantly enhance the performance of both conventional and renewable generation assets. Pine Creek Power Systems™ is continually refining its IntelligentRE™ software and control system, which interfaces with the SCADA system at the power generating site to acquire microgrid telemetry, including local weather data. The IntelligentRE™ uses this data to make resource usage decisions that result in lower overall operating costs for the microgrid, which are simply presented and conveyed via the dashboard interface.