FPL, Florida International partner on solar+storage microgrid

One of the nation’s leading energy research universities is partnering with a Florida utility to complete and commission a solar+storage microgrid later this year.

Miami-based Florida International University and Florida Power & Light have worked together for decades on various energy projects. The latest, to be fully operational later this year, is a microgrid that will supply backup power to FIU’s engineering center for up to 24 hours depending on need and usage.

The FIU-FPL microgrid will also give students and researchers hands-on experience with the next-gen developments in distributed energy technologies. The microgrid will serve the university in the event of severe weather.

“When FIU and FPL unveiled our innovative solar canopy in 2016, solar was still a technology of the future. Today, solar is the ‘here and now’ for FPL. With this microgrid, FIU students have the opportunity to contribute to the future of energy yet again – gaining hands-on experience with emerging technology and conducting research that will bring real-world benefits to Floridians.” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg “Our decade-long partnership with FPL demonstrates exactly how experimental projects like this microgrid can turn into world-changing developments practically overnight.”

The FIU-FPL microgrid will be powered by the existing 1.4 MW solar array at the FPL-FIU Solar Research Center (pictured) – which doubles as a parking canopy – and incorporates a large-scale 3 MW battery system. The system will have a 10-year lifespan, and when not in microgrid mode, the battery will smooth the solar canopy’s generation to minimize gaps caused by clouds and shading.
In addition to solar and battery storage, the microgrid leverages one of FIU’s research facilities, the Proactive Analytics and Data Oriented Research on Availability and Security (PANDORAS) Lab, which will serve as a virtual control room.

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Energy storage, solar power, and microgrids are part of the content being offered at both POWERGEN International and DISTRIBUTECH, co-located Jan. 26-28 in Dallas. Registration is now open for POWERGEN.