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Groundbreaking smart grid project in USA

29 May 2012 – Mesa del Sol, Albuquerque’s mixed-use, master planned community in the southern part of the city, has unveiled its new smart grid system – the first of its kind in the USA. The smart grid system, in conjunction with the PNM Prosperity energy storage project, the country’s first solar storage facility that is fully integrated into a utility’s power grid, is a showcase for future smart grid projects. The project objective is to innovate smart grid controls to overcome the challenges presented by the intermittency associated with renewable energy sources.

The newly installed micro grid uses on-site solar, fuel cell, natural gas and back-up battery storage to power the 78,000 square foot Aperture Centre at Mesa del Sol.

Partnering with Mesa del Sol on the Smart Grid is Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), PNM, Sandia National Laboratories, The University of New Mexico and nine major Japanese companies including Shimizu Corporation.

NEDO is investing US$22 million in the smart grid. In addition to the provision of funding to construct the system, NEDO will monitor and test the system for the next two years. The Aperture Centre will require 400 kilowatts of electricity during its peak times. The smart grid will manage energy generation sources, the electrical grid and energy storage sources in a sustainable way.

To meet the Aperture Centre’s needs, NEDO installed a 50 kW solar photovoltaic system, an 80 kW fuel cell, a 240 kW natural gas powered generator and a 160 kW/h battery storage system as well as a building energy management system. “The new smart grid has a building management system that is automated and manages the electric supply and distribution between our on-site generation sources, energy storage and PNM’s power grid,” Manny Barerra, Mesa del Sol’s director of engineering says.