Electric Co-op Works With SUNY on Solar Power Battery Project

Solar power is the fastest growing energy source in the world and it’s a viable power source even in states like New York where sunshine is variable.

We can generate electricity using the power of the sun in three ways. Most familiar are solar photovoltaic cells or solar panes. Thermal energy is another way to harness the power of the sun. It can heat home hot water systems or provide power using Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). This involves using large mirrors or lenses that concentrate sunlight into a small area to produce steam. That steam then drives an electricity-producing turbine. Passive solar energy occurs when buildings’ windows, walls, and floors collect, store, and distribute solar heat.

New York is committed to solar power; the state has seen its solar power capacity increase by 1,000% between 2011 and 2017.

Among the latest solar power initiatives is a partnership that includes one of New York’s rural electric cooperatives, a college, and a utility. Electric cooperatives are member-owned electric companies that purchase electricity at wholesale and distribute it to its members. They developed decades ago because many rural communities did not have access to electricity.

The Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC), SUNY Delhi and the New York Power Authority are planning a solar power generation system that will power the campus and the local community.

An important aspect of the project is that it combines solar power with battery storage. Storing solar energy in the big challenge of solar power.

The solar power and storage project will also serve as a lab for SUNY Delhi’s Integrated Energy System degree programs. SUNY Delhi’s Electrical Technologies Center already has a solar energy system that generates power for the campus and educates students earning degrees in alternative and renewable energy. It’s a 20 KW system, but the new system is a 2 MW system, 20 times bigger.  That means SUNY Delhi students will be learning about commercially scaled solar systems as well as small-scale, homeowner systems.

The New York Power Authority will design and implement the project, which is currently in the planning phase, on 18 acres of land owned by SUNY Delhi. The solar array and battery component are near a DCEC substation, which allows the system to tie into the existing power distribution network. Installation is expected to start later this year. Once implemented, the system will help New York achieve its climate goals of obtaining 50% of its energy from renewable sources and its commitment to a clean electric grid.

NYLCV will continue to work for the expansion of solar projects in rural communities in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.