FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maharishi University of Management to be Powered by 1.1 Megawatt Solar Array
FAIRFIELD, Iowa, May 1st, 2018 – Maharishi University of Management (MUM) will soon be home to one of Iowa’s largest solar arrays. The 1.1 megawatt array – over 200 times the size of a typical residential array – will cover 5 acres of land adjacent to campus. The project also includes a 1 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system – the largest system of its kind in the Midwest.
The solar array will generate enough power to meet one-third of MUM’s annual electricity needs. In addition to those savings, the battery energy storage system will reduce the demand charge portion of MUM’s utility bill by around one-third.
Ideal Energy is designing and building the array. Construction is scheduled to begin early this summer and take around two months.
Not your standard solar array
Battery energy storage systems are at the cutting of edge of the renewable energy industry. Batteries can be used for emergency backup, off-grid homes, and more, but their most important application is peak shaving.
Peak shaving cuts expensive demand charges by reducing electricity consumption during peak usage times like hot summer days. Demand charges can increase a customer’s electrical costs for the entire year. For customers on demand charge utility tariffs, between 30% and 70% of the utility bill may be made up of demand charges.
Battery energy storage systems automatically detect when power usage exceeds a pre-programmed threshold and switch from the grid or solar panels to batteries until the extra demand is over. When demand is lower the batteries recharge.
The battery energy storage system serving MUM is among the most innovative and sophisticated systems available. NX Drive, made by NEXTracker, uses vanadium flow batteries. Unlike lithium ion batteries, vanadium flow batteries degrade very little over time – as little as 2% in 25 years.
Ideal Energy is incorporating another sophisticated design element in the array: decentralized active tracking. Active tracking systems follow the Sun’s path across the sky, yielding 20-25% more energy than a fixed tilt array.
NX Horizon, also made by NEXTracker, is a particularly advanced active tracking system because it is decentralized. Each row of solar panels has its own motor and sensors and integrates with smart control software to independently find the best angle for maximum electricity production.
The MUM array will be the first system in the Midwest to combine active tracking and battery energy storage on a large scale.
MUM continues to lead on sustainability
Maharishi University of Management is a committed leader in sustainability. The university pioneered the first degree program in sustainable living in the United States, has built low-carbon footprint buildings, implemented composting and recycling programs, and committed to switching a significant portion of its energy use to renewable sources. Past and present MUM presidents, Drs. Bevan Morris and John Hagelin have supported and signed the University President Climate Initiative and Paris Climate Initiative with the intention of moving MUM to become a carbon-neutral campus.
The new solar array, two existing solar arrays, and a wind turbine on campus, along with the wind portfolio of MUM’s utility, will generate over 43% of MUM’s electricity –a transformative leap toward achieving carbon neutrality.
The array, which will be visible from the railroad segment of the Fairfield Loop Trail running from 8th St. and Gear Ave. over Highway 1, will be a dramatic view of Fairfield’s clean energy future.
Amy Van Beek
Ideal Energy, Inc.