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SimpliPhi battery bank helps D.C. elementary school better use excess solar generation

Written by: Leonard Parker | solar news | September 21, 2021

A SimpliPhi Power battery system has been installed at a Washington, D.C., elementary school to help the school better use its existing solar power system.

Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School is a public school in an underserved D.C. community that installed a 200-kW solar array in late 2019 to meet its energy needs and sell an excess of 30 kW back to the utility through net metering. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and forced the school to shift to remote learning, the excess solar being produced amounted to 90 kW – far in excess of the net-metering agreement with the local utility, Pepco, for export to the grid.

In order to maximize the investment of the solar array for the school, satisfy the imposed export limit of 30 kW per day, avoid the system being shut down, as well as capture valuable excess renewable energy, SimpliPhi Power designed a 60-kWh LFP battery bank to store the excess solar generation. Pepco uses the excess energy generated and stored in the SimpliPhi battery to provide additional capacity for the low-income community that surrounds Ludlow-Taylor as part of Solar for All, a program of D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment.

“Advancing a reliable and equitable grid requires innovation, and we’re proud to partner with these bold thinkers to provide the Ludlow-Taylor school with a creative and cost-effective energy system,” said Francisco Morocz, CEO of Heila Technologies. “We hope this project can serve as an example of what’s possible for other low-income communities looking to reap the economic and resiliency benefits of sustainable energy.”

The specific system requirements and necessary capabilities were developed by consultants at Amidus working alongside EPC Suncatch Energy and SimpliPhi Power application engineers.

“SimpliPhi Power believes access to clean and affordable energy is fundamental to economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability,” said Catherine Von Burg, CEO and co-founder of SimpliPhi Power. “By turning to battery storage to solve for the cost hurdles of its existing solar array, Ludlow-Taylor Elementary can be confident its system is resilient and secure while it pays dividends to augment the school’s operating budget and the greater community.”

To enable advanced functionality for this impactful solar and energy storage system, SimpliPhi Power turned to the Heila Edge platform from Heila Technologies to integrate the solar array and batteries with advanced system controls and functionality. By leveraging Heila’s distributed control software, the school is able to connect, manage and optimize these DERs remotely.

With the addition of an intelligent energy storage system to the existing solar array, Ludlow-Taylor can now power itself with clean energy, support the surrounding community, achieve significant cost reductions to free up critical funding for school resources, and ensure resilient operations in case of power outages.

Across the U.S., low-income households face a disproportionately higher energy burden, defined as the percentage of gross household income spent on energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, the national average energy burden for low-income households is 8.6%, three-times higher than for non-low-income households.

While there is a greater opportunity for energy and cost savings for these households, low-income communities face barriers to accessing energy technologies which help make energy more affordable, such as solar and battery systems. New Partners Community Solar and SimpliPhi Power have been tackling these challenges, working to bring solar capabilities to the communities — like the Washington, D.C. neighborhood surrounding Ludlow-Taylor — that need it most.

As the needs of the Ludlow-Taylor community continue to evolve, the school can easily expand its renewable energy ecosystem in the future by using the scalable nature of the Heila Edge platform and the modular building blocks of SimpliPhi Power’s battery systems.

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