Find out which energy storage systems this California school district chose to provide power during grid outages while offsetting utility costs

by Brianna Crandall — June 4, 2018 — Generate Capital, MBL-energy, and Sharp Electronics Corporation’s Energy Systems and Services Group announced recently that the solar photovoltaic (PV) plus SmartStorage energy storage systems were selected for six sites within the Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD) in Salinas, California. The newly installed systems will provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage and will also offset the school’s energy and demand usage resulting in substantial savings on its utility bills.

These innovative multi-campus systems will enable the schools to support the local Salinas community as Powered Emergency Response Centers in the event of disasters that cause prolonged outages.

large outdoor energy storage systems

SmartStorage energy storage system by Sharp at Santa Rita School District. Image courtesy Sharp

The project was envisioned by EcoMotion (an SRUSD consultant), developed by SolEd Benefit Corporation, engineered by Sharp and Black & Veatch, constructed and structurally engineered by MBL-energy, and financed by Generate Capital.

According to Carl Mansfield, general manager of Sharp’s US-based Energy Systems and Services Group:

The Santa Rita Union School District project creates a blueprint for schools, universities, hospitals, and other government and commercial facilities that need critical power availability during a grid outage, but also want to see utility bill savings during normal operations. These solar PV plus Sharp SmartStorage systems are delivering both resilience and savings while also providing clean, renewable energy that doesn’t harm the environment.

In total, the systems include one megawatt of solar PV that is integrated with 1.1 MWh of Sharp’s SmartStorage behind-the-meter energy storage systems. In addition to the savings on expensive utility bills, the systems will also provide for the ability to regain power during a blackout as well as provide clean renewable energy, notes the company.

The Santa Rita Union School District recently hosted a ribbon-cutting at the site facilitated by its consultant, EcoMotion. EcoMotion envisioned the project as a means of getting SRUSD the resiliency that it sought by combining batteries with ubiquitous solar power.

Dr. Shelly Morr, superintendent of SRUSD, explained:

California school districts face extremely challenging budgeting situations, and any reduction in operational expenses can directly translate into money for teachers, books, or supplies. It is also important for our community that schools aren’t impacted by events such as power outages, as this disrupts not just the school day, but parents having to leave work early or scramble to make other arrangements for their children. We’re excited to see these precedent-setting clean energy systems implemented on our school campuses.

Generate Capital is a capital partner for solar-plus-storage innovators in the United States. With one of the largest behind-the-meter energy storage portfolios in North America, Generate Capital partners with project developers, technology vendors, and solution providers to build money-saving, environmentally beneficial infrastructure.

Sharp’s intelligent energy storage solution pairs with solar PV systems to work synergistically, reducing utility costs by pulling power from the SmartStorage batteries rather than from the utility at the times of highest demand, an operation that is particularly well-suited for facilities where utility bills are often one of the highest expenses. In the case of a grid outage, Sharp’s software will then enable the transition to microgrid operation with only modest disruption to school operations. This capability helps shield the district from grid outages caused by rolling blackouts, brownouts, or severe weather events and minimizes disruptions to the school day for students, parents, and faculty.

For more information about SmartStorage by Sharp, visit the company’s website.