HOW IT WORKS

Solar Panels to Generate Clean Power


Solar technology has become extremely affordable and reliable in recent years, and utilities, businesses and homeowners are installing solar power to lower their energy costs. In fact, a recent report from the International Energy Agency confirmed that solar power is now the lowest-cost form of energy worldwide. 

The Cavalier project would be connected to the local electric distribution system serving both Southside Electric Cooperative and the Dominion Energy Virginia utility. Solar generation lines up well with electric demand because solar works during the daytime and often performs best on hot days when electric demand is the highest. Combining the solar generation with battery storage will allow GlidePath to make the best use of energy from the project. 

Unlike other types of energy generation, solar farms don’t create sound that’s audible outside the project, don’t consume water and don’t generate any type of pollution. 

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Solar panels are primarily made of glass, aluminum, copper and other common materials. Solar farms also utilize steel racks to position panels, electrical cable, and a small number of inverters and electric transformers to deliver power to the grid. All of this equipment is safe and contains the same materials that are found in household appliances. 

The photo shows a 5 MW solar farm as seen from 100 feet away with no landscaping or vegetation in view. 

View of a 5 MW solar farm from 100' 

Storage Technology to Improve Electric Reliability


Cavalier Solar + Storage will create a more flexible and reliable electric grid by storing energy produced during periods of oversupply and discharging energy during periods of high demand.

 

A battery system can respond instantly to stabilize the grid at any time, which provides better reliability and lower costs for consumers compared to traditional gas-fired generators. Our electric system is evolving and battery storage systems will be a key to creating a cleaner, more reliable and more affordable supply of electricity to homes and businesses.

The proposed project would be a new clean, reliable resource that will help integrate renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on gas-fired generation. The Cavalier Solar + Storage project would be part of a sustainable solution to:

 

  • Maintain grid reliability

  • Enable increasing amounts of intermittent renewable energy-generating sources to be accessed

  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air pollutant emissions from the electricity sector 

  • Upgrade aging infrastructure

  • Support increased and new electricity demand from non-traditional users such as transportation. 

The major equipment at the project would be:

  • Solar panels mounted on racks, with a maximum height of around 10 feet

  • Containers for battery modules - containers would be approximately 53’ long by 8’ wide and 10’ high 

  • Batteries - non-liquid, fully enclosed modules assembled and connected in racks

  • Power Conversion System (i.e. inverters) to convert direct current into alternating current and vice versa 

  • HVAC systems to keep batteries at optimal operating temperature

  • 24/7 monitoring and safety systems

  • Low and medium voltage electrical switching equipment 

  • Computer and telecommunications equipment

  • Electrical transformers and switchgear

  • Security lighting and fencing

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A construction crew installs battery racks inside of containers at a GlidePath battery storage facility 

How Battery Storage Supports the Electric Grid

Battery storage facilities like the proposed Cavalier Solar + Storage project manage short-term changes in energy supply and demand. To use industry terms, the project will provide frequency regulation[1], spinning reserves[2] and peaking power[3]. The project is designed to increase local electric reliability and decrease carbon pollution.

Providing a reliable electric system involves more than just generating power. Electricity has to be available when it's needed and must meet strict quality requirements to prevent damage to the devices that depend on it. Cavalier Solar + Storage is designed to provide these critical services and not solely to generate power.

About Reliability Services

Electric grids always need to have reserve power on-hand to manage the flow of electricity and prevent overloads and blackouts. The need for flexible power reserves is increasing today as we integrate more wind and solar generation into the grid.

The standard way to provide grid stability is to burn extra fuel at coal or gas plants when demand spikes or voltage drops. Typical power plants take up to 10 minutes to ramp up and down and consume a lot of fuel in the process. These plants might cover only a few spikes in demand during the day but they must continue burning fossil fuels 24/7 to stay online until they’re needed.

This inefficient approach increases air pollution and water usage and creates higher costs to consumers.

The Battery Advantage

Battery storage is a better way to manage variations in electric supply. Cavalier Solar + Storage uses batteries to provide a cleaner and more efficient way to support the grid and integrate renewable energy.

The system's batteries are charged by absorbing excess power from the grid. The batteries store power and discharge it to meet the grid’s requirements, eliminating the need keep fossil fuel reserves running. When demand spikes or extra power is required to balance the system, the batteries respond in seconds. This fast response reduces wasted power and creates a more stable supply of electricity.

Supporting the Transition to a Low-Carbon Grid

The energy industry is shifting toward low-carbon electricity with its use of wind, solar and other renewable technologies. However, many of these types of generation are intermittent; they cannot produce power when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. Projects like Cavalier Solar + Storage will help bridge the gap when the generation from renewable resources is not sufficient to meet demand.

The services provided by the project are essential to maintaining grid reliability and recovering from outages and other events that stress the power system. When constructed, the project will displace older and less-efficient providers of these services.

Terms:

[1] Frequency regulation involves moment-to-moment reconciliation of the supply of electricity and the demand for electricity. The reconciliation is done every few seconds. If at any given moment electricity demand exceeds supply, the supply is increased to meet demand. If demand is less than supply, the supply is decreased. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy)

[2] Spinning reserves refers to online-but-unloaded generation capacity that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages. ‘Frequency-responsive’ spinning reserve responds within 10 seconds to maintain system frequency. Spinning reserves are the first type used when a shortfall occurs. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy)
 

[3] Peaking power refers to electricity use at its highest points during a day. Day-to- day trends of power usage need to be met by power plants, but it is not optimal for power plants to produce the maximum needed power at all times. Peak load plants usually use old, low-efficiency steam units, gas turbines, diesels, or pumped-storage hydroelectric equipment. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)