CPS Energy Launches Solar Energy and Battery Storage Project

A collaboration between CPS Energy the Southwest Research Institute has allowed San Antonio to take a major step in using new technology to produce emission-free renewable energy during high energy use days with a new solar energy and battery storage project. It is a huge leap forward in cutting down the use of fossil fuels.

Wayne Callender, the CPS Energy Zero Emissions Resource Manager told us, “It’s the first one that we are going to own, so it’s the first plant that we are actually going to have that operational experience with getting our crews, getting our workers trained up for this new type of energy.”

On the solar farm, there are 17,752 solar panels that produce about five megawatts of solar that will power about 1,000 homes. Callender added, “Right now we are producing pretty good power because the sun is really high in the sky. We’ve got a lot of radiation on the panels.”

But what about when the sun isn’t out? Or at peak times when more power is needed? CPS Energy now has a way to store that power for later use with these solar storage batteries. “It can take that energy when it’s generated, move it to a time, either in the evenings or even in the winter time during the morning time, and we actually really need that power,” said Callender.

CPS Energy says it is called “solar shifting.” This means energy is captured when solar production is at its peak, which is generally between noon and 2 p.m – when the sun is at its highest angle in the sky. That energy can be absorbed by the panels and stored in onsite batteries. It can then be dispatched when energy demand is at its peak in San Antonio, between 3 pm and 7 pm, creating a more reliable power source for customers. Callender told us, “It takes what is normally an intermittent resource and makes it an actual firm power source that we can really count on.”

It all fits into CPS Energy’s long-term goal and “flexible path.” Callender said, “Our flexible path which is going forward, we are looking to get away from being a central station generation and looking to put more of these decentralized units as the technology becomes more and more affordable.”

CPS Energy was given a $3 million grant from TCEQ to help defer the cost of the batteries.