SolarCity Moves Into Microgrids

The sun keeps shining on U.S solar panel installation leader SolarCity, which is now adding microgrids to its expanding slate of worldwide services.

SolarCity’s GridLogic microgrid service “combines distributed solar, batteries and controllable loads” to give communities an emergency power supply during one of global warming’s proliferating disruptions. Company heads Elon Musk and the Peter and Lyndon Rive believe the service will come in handy for campuses, hospitals, military bases and remote islands, but who doesn’t want a resilient alternative to the utilities when things get rough?

GridLogic can work with utilities or independent of them, making it something of a microutility, if you think about it. (And trust me, other solar companies are, starting now.) With “little to no upfront cost,” organizations can tap SolarCity’s in-house engineers to custom-design GridLogic systems running on software-based communications platform to maximize efficiency and savings. The platform’s dynamic control algorithms optimize the turnkey microgrid-as-a-service’s distributed energy resources from rooftop and ground panels as well as storage batteries, islanding your system from the grid in a rolling blackout or worse.

SolarCity’s fascinating GridLogic data sheet (PDF) drills much deeper into the deal, from background on fractal theory to technical details on load management. But the bigger picture worth noting is that SolarCity is on a serious roll, and increasingly setting itself apart from most other companies in the solar space.

microgrid schematic
The microgrid-as-a-service offering is just the latest development in a string of attractive news for SolarCity, including last month’s $750 million team-up with Google, the tech titan’s largest renewable energy investment ever, to solarize rooftops nationwide. Last week, SolarCity brought “full net metering” to Texas, a utility stronghold, and also produced a record 4 GWh in one day from its rooftop systems.
Musk and the Rives also teamed up recently with Incapital to create solar bonds for investors looking for resilient retirement portfolios (to go along with their utility-independent microgrids), and even signed a marketing agreement with DirecTV to cross-sell solar panels and satellite dishes. And we haven’t even arrived yet at the moment when SolarCity will eventually produce its own panels, which it soon will — once it builds America’s largest plant in New York, that is.

All of these quite impressive achievements point to the company’s ascendance as a major player in the solar sector, making it an user-friendly option in a burgeoning residential rooftop market still taking shape. With services now for not just homeowners but also universities, hospitals and even remote nations under siege from climate change’s catastrophes, SolarCity has positioned itself pretty well for the dawning age of renewable energy.

This article appeared in SOLARENERGY


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