Austin Readies Launch of 2 SHINES Solar-Storage Pilot Projects

AustinEnergyLogoNews of solar-plus-storage project launches funded via the SunShot SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) program are emerging. The beneficiary of a $4.3 million SHINES award, Austin Energy is about to start work on two pilot platforms that will bring together solar, battery storage and smart inverter technologies that are to serve as templates for wider spread commercial installations.



The Department of Energy’s (DOE) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched the $18 million SHINES program January 19 with the aim of accelerating deployment and integration of solar and renewable energy generation by making solar PV-energy storage systems affordable at utility, commercial and residential scale. SHINES, in turn, is part and parcel of DOE’s new $220 million Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan.

More specifically, Austin Energy’s SHINES projects are to pave the way toward a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of $0.14/kWh for solar PV systems that can dispatch electrical power night and day. A wide variety of power sector organizations are involved in Austin Energy’s SHINES project:

Organizations Involved
  • 1Energy Systems
  • Clean Power Research
  • ConnectDER
  • ERCOT
  • Ideal Power Converters
  • Landis & Gyr
  • Pecan Street, Inc.
  • Samsung SDI
  • Solar Edge
  • Tesla

Solar-Storage at the Utility, Commercial and Residential Scale

Sunshot Energy Storage

Austin Energy and SHINES project partners are aiming to establish a template for other regions to follow to maximize the penetration of distributed solar PV. Slated to commence in February, the proposed solution will enable distribution utilities to mitigate potential negative impacts of high penetration levels of PV caused by the intermittency and variability of solar production.

The two pilot distributed power platforms will integrate 4-MW of solar and 4-MW of distributed energy storage, smart inverters, forecasting tools, market signals, advanced communications and a software optimization platform, the public utility elaborates in a press release. The overarching objective is to demonstrate the means for utilities to accelerate integration of distributed solar and renewable energy generation capacity by analyzing and determining best practices at ¨behind the meter¨commercial and residential, as well as utility, scales.

¨At the utility scale, two energy storage systems will be tied directly to the distribution system. One grid-battery paired with a new community solar array of 3.2 MW in East Austin and another to support commercial and residential rooftop solar systems in the Mueller mixed-use development,¨ management explains.

Solar-Storage as the Means to Ramp Up Solar PV Integration

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“To increase the value and feasibility of mass adoption of solar energy on the electric grid, it is important to transform intermittent power generation into a more reliable energy source,” added Austin Energy VP of Customer Energy Solutions. “The ultimate goal is to reliably and affordably enable solar generation beyond practical limits, especially when solar installations are concentrated on certain distribution feeders.”

Integral to the functioning of the SHINES pilot platforms, Austin, Texas-based Ideal Power’s Grid Resilient 30kW and 125kW Power Conversions systems will be paired with lithium-ion batteries and installed behind the meter at commercial sites. Ideal Power will also participate in engineering, design and programming, as well as training, commissioning and testing.

Austin Energy is Ideal Power’s local utility, CEO Dan Brdars pointed out in a press release. “These projects will enable us to demonstrate the role of our grid-resilient power conversion systems in integrating energy storage with PV for grid stabilization.”

Added Karl Popham, Austin Energy manager of Emerging Technologies and Electric Vehicles: “We look forward to working with Ideal Power on this innovative project that will ultimately allow Austin Energy to support our aggressive renewable energy goals. Ideal Power’s experience with power conversion technologies make it a strong partner in the Austin SHINES solution.”

Andrew is a well seasoned and traveled freelance reporter and editor, covering the the nexus where new energy technology, markets, ecosystems and political economy intersect and overlap.

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