February 12, 2019 -- Where empty commercial rooftops once stood, shiny new panels are capturing the power of the sun and putting it directly on the electric distribution grid for the benefit of all customers.
Entergy New Orleans has made significant progress in constructing its 5 megawatt commercial-scale rooftop solar pilot project, which was approved by the New Orleans City Council in June 2018. In fact, the company recently completed the installation of panels that provide approximately 2.5 MW of solar-generating capacity on a series of warehouse rooftops near the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Entergy New Orleans previously had installed a smaller array of panels on one of its own buildings.
With those panels in place, the company continues its work to identify new sites for the installation of additional panels, focusing on buildings owned by educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations in Orleans Parish. Ideal sites are buildings with a rooftop of 10,000 square feet or more and a height of three stories or less.
These efforts, added to the company’s 1 MW solar power plant with battery storage in New Orleans East, demonstrate Entergy New Orleans’ commitment to finding innovative ways to bring renewable energy resources to Orleans Parish.
“We’re excited about this project that is taking advantage of previously unused commercial rooftops and putting solar energy in action,” said David Ellis, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. “We want to thank both our host sites and our local installer network for helping us bring this forward-thinking project to fruition, and we’re excited about finding additional suitable rooftop space for solar generation.”
How is the energy generated by these panels delivered to the grid? Multiple conduits run down the side of the building connecting the solar power harnessed to a panel of inverters. Once it enters the inverters, the solar power flows over to new, metered padmount transformers that take it directly to the distribution system. What’s more, additional equipment has been installed on distribution poles to allow the power to flow directly onto the grid.
Besides helping the company achieve its commitment to include up to 100 MW of renewable energy resources in its generation mix, several potential benefits of the commercial-scale rooftop solar project include:
- allowing Entergy New Orleans to gain additional real-world experience with operating and maintaining these systems;
- siting the generating resources in Orleans Parish near the load they will serve;
- assessing possible opportunities for siting projects to better achieve distribution grid benefits;
- being able to facilitate possible future energy-storage (battery) investments;
- economic development benefits to Orleans Parish through increased local investment and use of local labor;
- use of existing rooftops means that land is not taken out of commerce for other economic development purposes; and
- allowing Entergy New Orleans to work directly with its customers to help achieve their goals around sustainability and/or carbon reduction.
“Although our initial target is approximately 5 MW, the model showcased by this project has the potential to be scaled up to 20 MW on existing buildings and properties around the Crescent City,” Ellis said. “We look forward to working with the council, its advisors and stakeholders as we look at all viable options to make this project a success.”
In addition, last year, working under the oversight of an independent monitor, the company selected a portfolio of updated proposals that will allow it to pursue an additional 90 MW of renewable energy. The company continues negotiating agreements for those proposals while undertaking others like this commercial-scale rooftop solar project as it moves toward its renewable energy goals.
Also of Interest from SGO:
9th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum - North America, March 18-20, 2019, Washington, D.C.
4th Grid Modernization Forum, May 20-22, 2019, Chicago
Utility Cyber Security Forum, June 25-26, 2019, San Diego
4th IoT Global Innovation Forum, July 9-10, 2019, Chicago