FPL to add 16 MWh storage system to solar power plant

DeSoto County Commission Chairman Jim Selph (left), FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy and DeSoto County Commissioner Terry Hill

US utility Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) added a solar storage system into its 75 MW »Citrus Solar Energy Center«, a solar power plant that was built in 2016. FPL expects to increase the amount of solar energy that the plant can deliver to the electric grid by more than half a million kilowatt-hours a year. The system features a 4,000-kilowatt/16,000-kilowatt-hour storage capacity comprised of multiple batteries. The FPL »Citrus Solar Energy Center« is one of three solar plants the utility operates in Florida's DeSoto County. The DeSoto County is home to Florida's first solar power plant, FPL’s »Next Generation Clean Energy Center,« which was the largest of its kind in the nation when it was built in 2009, and the 74.5 MW FPL »Wildflower Solar Energy Center,« which entered service in January 2018.
The new solar-plus-storage system is the first large-scale application of »DC-coupled« batteries at a solar power plant in the U.S, says the company. It has the same advantages of other universal solar-plus-storage installations, such as the ability to store energy and dispatch it to the grid at a later time. According to FPL, a unique advantage of DC-coupled batteries is the ability to harness extra energy that a solar plant generates when the sun's rays are the strongest. »During these optimal operating periods, a solar plant may generate more power than its inverters can process, resulting in some energy inevitably being lost – or clipped by the inverter. Unlike other batteries, a DC-coupled system can capture this extra clipped energy, thereby increasing the amount of energy the plant delivers to the grid.
For several years, FPL and other NextEra Energy companies have been researching and testing battery-storage technologies to study a variety of potential benefits ranging from grid stabilization to improved solar integration. Currently, NextEra Energy companies operate approximately 130 MW of batteries with more than 100 MWh of storage capacity. In 2016, FPL commissioned several battery-storage pilot projects to test different applications under real-world operating conditions. Systems are currently being tested at Everglades National Park's Flamingo Visitor Center, the Crandon Tennis Center on the island of Key Biscayne as well as other locations across south Florida. FPL plans to develop 50 MW of battery storage over the next few years.

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