Moving toward a brighter future: Solar and Battery energy storage


It’s abundant and renewable: Solar power will be a crucial part of the energy mix as the world moves toward carbon neutrality. In the U.S., the Department of Energy’s Solar Futures Study shows that by 2035, solar energy could power as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity, decarbonizing the grid and employing as many as 1.5 million people in the process. And it can do it without raising electricity prices.

As the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M Granholm, put it: “The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035.”
It’s not just a pipe dream, either. It’s already happening. The Jicarilla Solar Plant will be an essential part of the future energy mix and is an early contributor to a greener future. The 50-megawatt, 400-acre solar farm on the Jicarilla Apache Nation Reservation in New Mexico will be the largest of its kind in North America and produce enough energy to power up to 16,000 homes. The project is a part of an initiative by the Public Service Company of New Mexico to achieve 100% carbon-free energy across the state by 2040.

With the region enjoying an average of 283 days of sunshine a year, it’s got a bright future.
But like all solar power projects, it faces the challenge of what to do when the sun doesn’t shine – and crucially how to match the production peaks during bright days with the high demand during colder nights.
Battery storage will be an increasingly crucial technology as we move to cleaner energy production.

At Jicarilla, it’s Honeywell that’s going to be providing the energy storage solution. Operator Hecate Energy will use this to store the energy and to forecast and optimize energy costs at the site.
It combines an energy storage system of 20MW (about the amount of electricity consumed by 8,000 to 18,000 homes in a year) with our Experion® Elevate SCADA control system, which integrates asset monitoring, and distributed energy resource management, supervisory control, and analytics.

It’s not as visible as the acres of solar panels out harvesting the sun’s energy, but if we’re serious about being carbon neutral, it’s just as crucial. If the past has taught us anything, it’s that we need to make sure we don’t waste what we produce.