Entergy New Orleans has broken ground on the company’s first utility-scale solar project. The project also represents the first time Entergy has combined utility-scale solar power with energy storage technologies via a 500-kW one-hour lithium battery.
The 1-MW pilot project will utilize ground-mounted, single-axis tracking solar panels and is expected to come online in mid-2016.
“One of the issues with solar panels is availability on cloudy days, at night, or generating enough electricity at the right time of day when energy usage peaks,” said Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. “Our pilot project will evaluate the ability to store and deliver solar energy to the electricity grid when customers need it – not just when the sun is shining.”
Using 4,000 solar panels, the facility will generate enough electricity to power about 160 homes, feeding electricity directly into New Orleans’ distribution grid. Entergy New Orleans will use the facility to benchmark performance, operating and maintenance costs across its service area. Coupling solar generation with battery storage will allow the company to compensate for inherent intermittency issues associated with renewables while shifting solar peak to coincide with customer peak usage.
Last week, a Navigant report forecasted that revenue from utility-scale energy storage will grow 15-fold by 2025. A Lux report similarly predicts the market for combined solar power and energy storage will globally reach $8 billion by 2026.
Blattner Energy will begin construction on the Entergy New Orleans site this month with assistance from local solar panel installation company South Coast Solar.