Solar & Storage Power Plant
Taking bold climate action by producing 43% of energy on campus & reducing energy bills by 30%
Combining technology, data, design, & machine learning to create an intelligent, future-facing energy system
Following the sun for big gains
Active tracking can produce 15-20% more power than a fixed-tilt array of comparable size. The NX Horizon system used here allows each row to operate independently to optimize solar production.
Powered by solar, day & night
Vanadium-flow battery energy storage works in tandem with solar energy to reduce energy costs by ‘peak shaving’ – drawing power from solar panels or batteries instead of from the grid during expensive peak times of the day.
Using AI to optimize performance
The power plant uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize energy production and consumption. A central energy management system integrates data from sensors on the solar panels and on-site weather stations. A predictive algorithm uses this data to optimize the performance of each row, individually.
The four on-site weather stations provide data and protect the system, by automatically rotating horizontally in case of high water, 60° westward in case of high winds, and 90° vertically to shed snow during winter storms.
In the middle of each row, a motor pier holds a motor, a slewing drive, and communications and monitoring equipment. Each row is rotated by a single motor and slewing drive. The motor is controlled by a self-powered controller that communicates wirelessly with a centralized network control unit. The central torque tube, solar panels, and piers are connected together and engineered to withstand the constant movement inherent in an active tracking system.
The power plant uses 35 inverters, which are AC-coupled, improving efficiency and allowing for a more flexible system design.
WIND SENSOR STATIONS
STORM SENSOR STATIONS
COMMUNICATIONS & ELECTRICAL CENTER
POLLINATOR PROJECT & AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH
Solar Solutions for Universities
The design decisions behind the MIU Solar Power Plant
DOWNLOAD TO LEARN MORE ABOUT:
- Unique challenges for universities with on-site renewables
- Managing energy loads for educational institutions with solar & storage
- Intelligent use of AI in solar power plants including predictive algorithms, machine learning, control systems, and feedback
- Securing a state-funded grant for research into the performance of the power plant
- Designing & developing informational kiosks and educational brochures
- Assisting professors in designing classroom material around the technical features of the project
- Implementing a comprehensive PR & communication strategy
During construction, Ideal Energy created an internship program to engage the University’s student body in all aspects of the installation from design to construction to marketing. We also worked with professors and students to plan and implement an on-site pollinator project and arrange plots of land between array rows for researching regenerative agriculture techniques.
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*Estimated 25 year utility savings are above and beyond the installed system cost with incentives, and are based on current utility electrical rates and predicted future utility rates. Production data is based on NREL and PV Watts.