Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) sought to leverage unused land above two below-grade water cisterns to create an independent 12kV microgrid incorporating PV and battery storage to satisfy the plant’s power demands and create energy autonomy.
Locating the PV above the water cisterns meant the entire installation had to remain above grade, eliminating the possibility for any foundation or conduit penetrations into the thin soil covering the cisterns. In addition, the cisterns are located on the far side of the plant, nearly an eighth of a mile from the battery storage system and point of interconnection.
The challenge was met by partnering with SunPower and Sol Components to design a fully-ballasted, fixed tilt ground mount system capable of withstanding the wind and seismic loads as well as the weight of the electrical distribution equipment. Telios created a unique design cantilevering the inverters and DC combiners off the ballasts along with the inter-ballast conduit runs. The result is a fully-coordinated electrical and structural design that meets all code requirements, minimizes UV exposure to maximize system life, and gives new purpose to previously-unusable land.
The plant’s 12kV distribution was leveraged to overcome the physical distance from the array to the point of interconnection, creating an AC-coupled PV+storage microgrid that allows battery charging from excess PV or the grid. Alternately, the battery system can black-start the campus distribution and allow the PV to power loads in the event of a prolonged utility outage.
This project is an excellent demonstration of how intelligent design can overcome site challenges, giving companies energy independence without sacrificing the budget.