North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are bringing energy innovation to rural North Carolina by coupling utility-scale solar with battery energy storage.
The new “Solar + Storage” energy resources, interconnected in 2022 and 2023, support the cooperatives’ Brighter Future efforts – an initiative to support co-op consumer-members and communities by building a more resilient, efficient grid, while upholding affordability and pursuing a long-term sustainability goal.
The 14 solar + storage sites will generate more than 23 MW of energy from more than 75,000 solar panels. In addition to the solar energy, the projects will provide more than 53 MWh of energy storage, expected to be dispatched when demand for electricity on co-op systems peaks. The sites will provide enough energy at maximum output to power more than 23,000 homes.
Pairing solar with battery energy storage enables co-op consumer-members to gain the most benefit from an intermittent resource, advancing grid resilience and supporting the cooperatives’ sustainability goal of achieving goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Solar energy is most abundant during the middle of the day, but energy demand peaks in the late afternoon hours in the summer and early in the morning during winter. With hybrid solar and storage solutions, renewable solar energy is captured when it’s most abundant and dispatched exactly when it’s needed to efficiently support the grid.
Cooperatives in North Carolina are working together to integrate innovative energy technologies like solar and storage at a deliberate pace to balance and uphold commitments to reliability, affordability and sustainability. Approximately 500 MW of renewable, distributed energy and edge-of-grid resources are integrated or pending integration into cooperative grids.
As a Distribution Operator, the state’s electric co-ops are coordinating distributed energy resources throughout the grid to optimize their performance and support an efficient and strategic grid evolution. This sophisticated capability increases grid resilience and power reliability for co-op members by ensuring each resource and technology contributes optimally to balance the supply of electricity precisely with real-time consumer demand.