Austin Central Library (ACL) has gone solar, and it’s saving a lot of money as a result. Specifically, from a 180 kW solar array on its roof, the library is saving $100,000 a year. Austin, Texas, has a goal of reaching 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
Apparent, Inc., which released a news update on the project, was tapped for energy management of the system, and it claims that the system is getting 30% higher utilization than it would by default. Apparent manages more than 35 MW of installed power capacity.
“Apparent was the only energy management company capable of meeting Austin Energy’s strict grid synchronization requirements, with a hardware and software solution that results in more than $100,000 in annual savings, enough to power 130 households per year,” the company writes. “Apparent’s cloud-based, intelligent grid operating system (igOS™) is managing the 180 kW solar array at the library, consisting of 555 325-watt solar panels and Apparent’s proprietary microinverters. The system produced 157.35 MWh in 2019.
“Apparent technology monitors ACL’s demand and, working in sub-seconds, matches available solar generation to the facility’s energy needs. This real-time process enables the inverters to maximize solar generation and use behind-the-meter. Apparent met Austin Energy’s required management scope for an interconnected behind the meter distributed energy generator by ensuring ACL’s solar system would not export (backfeed) any energy to the grid and could read, reckon, and react to signals from the utility in three-seconds or less.”
While the backend technology may be complicated and it’s smart to rely on a combination of hardware and software expertise from partners like Apparent, the basic story these days is simple: put solar on your roof, save a ton of money, stop polluting the air and the atmosphere.
As I’ve reported in recent months, solar power has been the #1 source of new power capacity in the country in 2020, contributing 37% of the country’s new power capacity in the first half of 2020. In June it provided 60% of new power capacity. This comes after years of massive cost drops. Solar PV panels were 12 times more expensive in 2010, and 459 times more expensive in 1977 (if you want to go back even further). Solar is winning because solar has gotten very cheap and can now save buyers a great deal of money. That goes for schools and businesses as well as homeowners.
“Using technology that helps us save on energy allows us to put more of our resources towards what really matters: our community,” Sharon Herfurth, Office of Programs & Partnerships and Division Manager for Austin Central Library, notes.