Hybrid-Electric Buildings

Mar 17, 2016 | DERMS Applications-Group, White Papers DER-Group

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Think of a Tesla — take the battery technology — and amplify it by about 16,000 pounds.

Huge batteries are being combined into state-of-the-art energy storage systems from Tesla Energy. It’s being called a first in the world for a major real estate company, The Irvine Company.

“It could be much as 10 percent of electricity costs,” said Rich Bluth, vice president of energy management for The Irvine Company.

That could mean a savings of up to $100,000 a year for two office buildings alone in Irvine.


In the first phase, The Irvine Company will have more than 20 high rises in Irvine and Newport Beach fitted with a battery system, turning them into hybrid-electric buildings, in a deal with Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) and SoCal Edison.

“You’ve got a virtual power plant with 10 megawatts of capacity that can be deployed in a matter of moments,” said Bluth.

Ten megawatts — enough to supply power to about 10,000 homes.

“Instead of burning a fossil fuel plant in the middle of the day when (SoCal) Edison needs the energy, they’ll simply give a dispatch order, and Irvine Company buildings will switch to batteries for a period of time,” said AMS CEO Susan Kennedy during a phone interview.

She says the batteries being installed can last 4-6 hours. The shift to battery power can help SoCal Edison during peak hours or during a power failure. The flexibility is expected to be helpful, especially in South Orange County.


“It’s really important, especially with the closure of San Onofre,” said Bluth.
One of the challenges, though, is finding enough space for the battery system. Roughly five units are needed for one building — that’s equal to about five parking spaces.

The weight is often too much for a rooftop. So, the Irvine Company is installing the system on the ground.

The system is being paid for by AMS.

Kennedy won’t provide exact numbers, but says the cost of the batteries and installation is in the tens of millions of dollars to be spread out over a 10-year contract with SoCal Edison.

The first system is expected to be installed by the end of the year in Irvine.