Storing solar energy for use after the sun goes down

Solar power generation and energy usage have long been at odds. Peak solar energy production follows the sun, occurring when most people are at work or school. In contrast, energy usage spikes late in the afternoon into the evening with each flick of the switch as SRP customers return home. Being a power source during this high usage period has not typically been the role of solar power — until now.

The new Pinal Central Solar Energy Center (PCSEC) in Casa Grande, an integrated solar and battery storage system plant, stores clean energy produced during the day for use whenever energy demand increases.

Photo of a solar panel field
Solar panels field at PCSEC located east of Casa Grande that will generate enough power for 5,000 homes with excess energy stored in a battery storage system.

The plant is the first of three large scale battery storage projects planned by SRP and the largest of its kind in Arizona. SRP will purchase all of the energy produced at the plant, which is owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources.

“The project’s design allows SRP to utilize solar and battery storage together to optimize clean energy output to benefit our customers,” said SRP General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hummel. “In addition, the plant will assist SRP in meeting our goals for renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions.”

The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20% of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. Currently, SRP is on schedule to meet that goal by utilizing solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power, along with energy-efficiency measures. Additionally, SRP set a goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions intensity by 33% by 2035.

“We are delighted to work with SRP to bring this innovative solar and energy storage facility online and deliver unprecedented value to its customers,” said Matt Handel, vice president of renewable development for NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. “The project also brings significant economic benefit to the region, creating jobs and providing additional tax revenue to the communities that host it.”

PCSEC by the numbers:

  • 20 MW solar photovoltaic generation facility
  • Consists of 258,000 solar panels on 257 acres of land
  • 10 MW lithium-ion battery storage system integrated with plant to store excess energy
  • 150 construction jobs will be created and four full time positions
  • Over $7 million in additional revenue will be generated for Pinal County over the operational lifetime

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