Saturday, November 6, 2010

San Luis Valley Citizens’ Distributed Energy Project

     The Solar Gardens Institute presents a plan for reliable, renewable energy for the San Luis Valley, using smaller  arrays or ordinary solar panels.  Joy Hughes presents the Citizens' Distributed Energy plan on Sunday, November 14 at 6PM at Jillian's studio in Crestone (behind the Elephant Cloud Tea House), and on Monday, November 22 at 6:30 PM at the Ute Theater in Saguache .  Learn about human-scale solar energy that makes sense for our valley.  For more information call 719-207-3097 

1.  Provide reliable power by producing and storing energy locally, and coordinating demand
2.  Provide all the SLVs electric power with renewable energy
3.  Export up to 200 Megawatts of renewable power by upgrading the existing grid
4.  Bring electrical generation into community ownership, with revenues going to public benefit

Respond to utility-scale requests for proposal
Provide utility-scale power by distributed means
Aggregate project finance and power purchase
Municipal, church, and nonprofit benefits from community ownership

Example:  Lake County, Oregon is planning to become a net energy-exporter through biomass and solar production, using existing transmission.

Virtual Power Plants

    A “smart grid” application called a Virtual Power Plant uses software control to coordinate distributed generation, storage, and demand management resources.  VPPs can respond to grid conditions by adjusting supply or “generating” additional energy from subscribers who agree to reduce their load on demand.

    While individual solar arrays will spike up and down on partly cloudy days, they will collectively show a smoother behavior.  The VPP can match supply to demand by using dispatchable resources like biomass, withdrawals from storage such as hydroelectric, or by adjusting demand.

is a company in New Jersey that can “generate” energy based on customers who sign up to curtail their load by actions such as cycling their air conditioners.  Siemens, in Germany, aggregates the capacity of nine different hydroelectric plants with a total capacity of 8.6 MW using its Decentralized Energy Management System.  Cisco Systems is working with Southern California Edison, is now constructing 500 MW of distributed power.  Iberdrola, Spain’s largest utility, is beginning a project in Alava, Spain to coordinate 100 MW of renewable energy generation (Iberdrola is also collaborating on a project in the San Luis Valley).

In December, 2009, XCEL Energy contracted with SunEdison to build 5 10-Megawatt PV plants in New Mexico.  This is similar to our proposed PV backbone.

SLV Virtual Power Plant

    The San Luis Valley micro- and mid-scale generation from home systems up to 30 Megawatt wholesale distributed PV plants.

Distributed PV Backbone
– 150 Megawatts of Silicon, Flat Panel, and Concentrated photovoltaics (solar panels) provide variable bulk power.  25 Megawatts to be located in each of the Valley’s six counties, including wholesale distributed at substations, irrigation corners,  Existing PV plants can be incorporated into the system.

Battery Buffering – Advanced batteries, such as Lithium and Sodium-Sulfur, can back up PV plants that can be suddenly shaded by clouds.

Hydroelectric Storage – Retrofit existing dams to store energy by pumping water back over the dam.  “Micro-hydro” units can be used for storage as well.

Geothermal Base Load – Geothermal plants produce energy day and night.

Biomass Dispatchability
– Biomass fuel can be a byproduct of agriculture, forestry, or can be grown under the solar panels.  Biomass plants can produce power on demand.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
– “Waste” heat from natural gas or geothermal generation can be used to heat structures such as greenhouses.  Heat storage can provide dispatchable power.

Demand Management
– Rather than storing energy, farmers and towns can store water, pumping it into water towers and reservoirs when energy is most plentiful, and using it when needed.  This allows the VPP to “time-shift” demand to when renewable energy is most plentiful.

Finance, Standard Offer, and Community Ownership

    A virtual power plant aggregates its energy output, and can also take advantage of aggregation in construction finance and power purchase agreements.  A “standard offer” will be made to landowners willing to host solar panels, similar to oil or gas leasing.  Tax-motivated investors can transfer ownership to non-profit organizations after claiming accelerated depreciation.
Joy Hughes
Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, The Solar Panel Hosting Company,

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