Mesa del Sol, a master-planned community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has unveiled a Smart Grid system combining on-site solar, fuel cells, natural gas and backup battery storage.

Aimed at overcoming the intermittency of renewables, the microgrid will supply Mesa del Sol’s 7200 m2 Aperture Center, which requires as much as 400 kW of electricity during peak times.

Mesa de Sol Aperture Center

The smart grid system will operate in conjunction with the PNM Prosperity Energy Storage Project, described as the first US solar storage facility to be fully integrated into a utility’s power grid.

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has partnered in the project, along with PNM, Sandia National Laboratories, The University of New Mexico and nine Major Japanese companies including Shimizu Corporation. The system was unveiled on 17 May.

NEDO is investing $22 million in constructing the Smart Grid system and will monitor and test it for two years. Once complete, the project will be turned over to the University of New Mexico’s Center for Emerging Energy Technologies for continued research and Smart Grid development.

NEDO installed a 50 kW solar PV system, an 80 kW fuel cell, a 240 kW natural gas powered generator and a 160 kW/hour battery storage system as well as a state-of-the-art building energy management system and sensors for controlling energy use inside the building.

‘The new Smart Grid has a building management system that is automated and manages the electric supply and distribution between our on-site generation sources, energy storage and PNM’s power grid,’ said Manny Barerra, Mesa del Sol’s Director of Engineering.

‘The Smart Grid at the Aperture Center is another example of Mesa del Sol walking its talk,’ said Mesa del Sol Vice President of Development Chris Anderson. ‘We have built this community to be sustainable at every level. It’s not an after thought but a key facet of everything we do.’

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