Solar + Storage = reliable, resilient energy for critical customers

When powerful storms such as Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy caused widespread power outages – in some parts of New Jersey lasting for more than a week – critical customers such as hospitals and public works were particularly vulnerable.

To reduce risks to the public, PSE&G and the Borough of Pennington collaborated on a solar storage project that will help keep the town’s Department of Public Works (DPW) building running for an extended period of time the next time a Sandy-like storm knocks out power.

Pennington’s solar storage system combines a 1,188-panel, 404-kilowatt-dc solar system with 574 kilowatt-hour Tesla Energy lithium-ion batteries. During normal operation, the solar system provides electricity directly to the grid and can power about 65 homes annually. During the day, solar panels recharge the batteries and help power the building; at night, battery power keeps the facility running.

The Pennington DPW building houses a garage for vehicle storage and maintenance, administrative offices and fuel pumps for borough-owned vehicles. By providing emergency battery and solar power to the building, the PSE&G solar storage system can help ensure that critical services continue during extended outages.

The Pennington DPW building is one of four solar storage projects developed under PSE&G’s Solar 4 All program.

All four of our solar storage projects serve a number of functions. Not only do they provide critical resiliency to important infrastructure around the state, but they also deliver clean solar energy to our electric customers while helping demonstrate just how useful solar storage technology can be in New Jersey.

Other projects include:

In each project, solar panels provide electricity directly to the grid for all customers to use, which helps ensure reliability of the entire system. And in the event of a long-term outage, such as those that follow extreme weather like Hurricane Irene or Superstorm Sandy, the systems provide additional resiliency for critical public facilities: a hospital, a wastewater treatment plant and a warming station.

Projects like these demonstrate the flexibility of solar power when coupled with battery storage technology. They provide valuable learnings and insights as to how best to pair solar with storage, which will only grow more popular as the technologies become more efficient and affordable.

As battery storage technology improves, and the price of both solar panels and storage systems continue to fall, solar storage could become an increasingly popular option for utilities, large and small commercial customers, public facilities, and even homeowners.

Solar 4 All is a 158-megawatt-dc community solar program that utilizes rooftops, parking lots, utility poles and landfills/ brownfields for large-scale, grid-connected solar projects. There are currently 124-megawatts-dc of the 158-megawatt-dc total in-service.

Courtney McCormick - VP Renewables and Energy Solutions, PSE&G

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  • Fuel cells can add another dimension to this type of system by generating baseline power which augments solar during extended periods with no sun.

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