College students from the Discover Vitality Seminar, the Perceive Vitality class and residents from the Discover Vitality theme home visited the Lemoore Photo voltaic Farm on Friday to tour the guts of the College’s supply of fresh vitality.
A four-hour bus drive south of campus to Lemoore, Calif. in Central Valley lies the Stanford Photo voltaic Producing Station #2. The two,400 acre expanse of photo voltaic panels, inverters and batteries that produce a stream of fresh vitality is a part of the bigger Slate undertaking that started operations in March of 2022. The ability plant makes use of roughly 1 million bifacial photo voltaic panels manufactured by Canadian Photo voltaic.
“We noticed a brand new, large photo voltaic advanced co-located with battery storage. To say that is uncommon to come back by can be a gross understatement,” Kevin Liang M.S. ‘23 stated about this distinctive alternative to go to the photo voltaic farm.
So how does the photo voltaic farm really contribute to Stanford’s electrical energy utilization?
To succeed in the proclaimed 100% renewable electrical energy consumption, Stanford’s photo voltaic farm should generate an equal or higher quantity of electrical energy than the College’s annual vitality consumption. Renewable vitality certificates are used to account for renewable electrical energy generated on the photo voltaic farm.
“We observe each kilowatt hour [of energy] that’s produced and push it again onto the grid,” stated Craig Szot, enterprise developer at MN8 Vitality. “When you hit 1,000 kilowatt hours, it generates one renewable vitality certificates.”
When Stanford purchases 1,000 kilowatt hours of electrical energy from the photo voltaic farm bundled with one Renewable Vitality Certificates, the College can basically assure that 1,000 kilowatt hours of electrical energy utilization on campus comes from renewables, Szot defined.
As soon as onsite, the scholars met representatives from the three important groups concerned within the photo voltaic farm: Kings County native authorities, MN8 Vitality and Canadian Photo voltaic.
The photo voltaic farm lies inside Kings County, Calif., whose primary precedence is agriculture, based on district 1 supervisor of Kings County Joe Neves. Nevertheless, the agricultural prosperity of the lands in Lemoore is being challenged by two current developments — the Sustainable Groundwater Administration Act and the surplus of salt within the soil.
“There was going to be some quantity of land retirement to match the quantity of water that was obtainable for manufacturing agriculture,” Neves stated. “That’s what introduced us into photo voltaic era. [The solar farm] offers this property a second likelihood to stay productive.”
Noelle Tomlinson, the Kings County planner, briefed the scholars concerning the photo voltaic farm contract specifics and the land it was constructed upon.
“These soils have an excessive amount of salt in them to ensure that most crops to develop,” Tomlinson stated, “Most of this land has at all times been grazing land.”
She talked about that one of many agreements previous to issuing constructing permits for the photo voltaic farm was an agricultural administration plan, which particulars that dry-farm sheep grazing dietary supplements the operation of the solar energy plant.
Rick Bielen, portfolio administration lead for MN8 Vitality, defined how they implement the plan for sheep grazing. “We use sheep when doable to keep up the vegetation as an alternative of utilizing gasoline powered garden mowers or different herbicides,” Bielen stated. “We’ve about 1,200 sheep on website proper now.”
MN8 Vitality is the proprietor and asset supervisor of the photo voltaic farm. In accordance with Bielen, Canadian Photo voltaic’s bifacial panels on the farm produce roughly 300 megawatts, which displays a 20% enhance from monofacial panels, as these can soak up daylight on either side as an alternative of only one.
Canadian Photo voltaic is chargeable for the day-to-day monitoring and preventative upkeep of the photo voltaic farm, based on Jeremy McKellep, regional operations and upkeep supervisor at Canadian Photo voltaic. Because the group toured the battery vitality storage system, McKellep defined how general electrical energy era is measured when accounting for era and storage.
“On the battery aspect, you’ve gotten DC mainly being changed into AC right here in these inverters,” McKellep stated. “It’s very related for the photo voltaic panels, which produce DC enter to the inverters. Now, how do the electrons transfer then? The panels and batteries share a standard bus [connection] on the substations.”
An electrical energy meter on the frequent bus connection measures the electrical energy produced by photo voltaic panels, the electrical energy taken to cost the batteries and eventually the electrical energy despatched to the facility grid, McKellep defined.
Nevertheless, the photo voltaic farm’s renewable electrical energy doesn’t straight feed into Stanford’s vitality system.
“When it comes to the precise electrons, they’re feeding onto the grid right here [in Lemoore],” stated program supervisor for Discover Vitality Wahila Wilkie.
At Stanford, electrical energy possible comes from nearer vitality sources and never essentially from the photo voltaic farm, based on Wilkie. Renewable vitality certificates account for the steadiness between electrical energy era on the photo voltaic farm and electrical energy consumption on campus.
College students took away a higher understanding of the photo voltaic farm and have been impressed by Stanford’s efforts to transition to completely renewable vitality.
“It was a visit of a lifetime,” Christopher Noll ‘23 stated. “I hope future college students also can have this distinctive instructional expertise.”
“[Stanford’s solar farm] also can assist spur extra innovation with photo voltaic panels and renewable applied sciences,” Brennan Lieu ’25 stated.
Holmes Hummel, the resident fellow of the Discover Vitality Home, helped set up the sphere journey.
“Discover Vitality Home is a unprecedented base camp for adventures within the vitality revolutions already underway, so it’s gratifying to open Stanford’s personal investments [in renewable energy] to residents,” Hummel stated.