It’s back-to-school time around the world and students of two schools — one in Queensland, Australia, and another on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii — will enjoy the benefits of solar power in the evening after the sun goes down, thanks to battery storage from Tesla and SimpliPhi.
Battery Storage In Queensland
At Cathedral College in Rockhampton, situated north of Brisbane on Australia’s sun-splashed eastern coast, a Tesla Powerpack now collects electrical energy generated by the school’s 100 kW rooftop solar panel system and stores it for use later, powering the school for up to 5 hours during the evening. Installed by GEM Energy, the Tesla system is expected to lower the institution’s utility bill by 40 to 50 percent and pay for itself in about 6 years.
In addition to the financial savings, having the rooftop solar installation and the battery storage component makes it easy for the school to talk to students about sustainability and the benefits of renewable energy. When the Powerpack was first installed earlier this year, it was a novelty, because it marked the first time a Tesla Powerpack had been installed in Australia. The hope is that by the time today’s students graduate and become part of the wider community, such energy storage systems will be commonplace rather than a curiosity.
Battery Storage In Hawaii
On the island of O’ahu in Hawaii, students at the Waialua High and Intermediate Schools are also benefiting from a battery storage system, this one provided by SimpliPhi. In Hawaii, air conditioning is an important part of creating an appropriate learning environment. Blessed with bountiful sunshine, temperatures inside classrooms can soar to 100 degrees or more without adequate cooling.
“Bringing sustainable cooling relief to students in Hawaii was a problem we knew required innovation on several levels, including how to manage the up front and long-term costs of these systems and how to work with the limited electrical infrastructure on these campuses,” said Richard Dean, senior account executive for Ameresco Solar, which designed the system for the Waialua schools.
“We designed a modular cabinet and energy production system housing power generation and storage technologies to be located right next to the electrical load, with one to two classrooms running off one cabinet. This is a major cost advantage over a centralized system, as is the power system’s ability to expand as future energy needs change. Using non-toxic SimpliPhi energy storage is essential as we can simply add more batteries in the system without duplicating other aspects, unlike with the other storage options available on the market.”
Each cabinet houses seven to ten 3.4 kWh batteries provided by SimpliPhi, but can accommodate up to 16 batteries as needed for future expansion of the system. “With solar saturation on Hawaii’s electrical grid, integrating energy storage is essential to getting these systems online faster for these students in need,” says Jim Whitcomb, founder of Haleakala Solar, a major solar integrator in Hawaii with over 14,000 solar systems installed on the Islands.
“Our decades of experience have shown us that not all batteries are created equal. Indoor real estate at these schools to house batteries is next-to-none, so we absolutely needed a battery that is proven to be reliable and safe from fire when installed outdoors in the full Hawaiian sun — without the hassle of adding separate AC or cooling mitigation. The SimpliPhi batteries surpass all these requirements and more.”
SimpliPhi CEO Catherine Von Burg added, “Our batteries are deployed in some of the harshest environments on the planet, such as the rugged front lines with the Department of Defense, and we have a zero failure rate due to overheating, thermal runaway and fires. This is even more critical when we are talking about systems that are installed within five feet of the closest student. Safety is paramount and should not be negotiable for anyone; especially our children.”
SimpliPhi utilizes lithium-ferro-phosphate technology for its batteries. Because it eliminates cobalt from the cathode, its batteries do not pose the risk of explosion or fire associated with traditional lithium ion batteries. That means a separate, bulky, and expensive cooling system is not needed, which helps lower the cost of its batteries. The LFP batteries can be 100% discharged without damage and have a useful lifespan of 5000 or more charging cycles.