Work begins this month on solar-plus-storage projects in North Carolina that will deploy a total of 12MWh energy storage, by developer Cypress Creek Renewables and turnkey solar and storage provider United Renewable Energy.

The pair is working with local electric cooperative, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) on the projects. There are 12 in total and construction begins this month, with completion expected before October of this year, Cypress Creek Renewables said.

The electric cooperative will be the off-taker for energy and services from the projects, signing power purchase agreements (PPAs) that were put together by United Renewable Energy.

“These projects provide low-cost solar energy to our members, and compound the value by delivering it exactly when we need it. This partnership will provide significant value to our members for years to come,” Brunswick EMC CEO Don Hughes said.

The 12 projects were acquired by Cypress Creek, which also executed project development, financing and now construction. The company has 5GW of solar PV deployed or in the process of deployment.

The batteries – for which the technology to be used was not specified by the partners in their announcement – will charge cheaply from the solar panels during the day’s off-peak periods. The PV panels will continue feeding directly into the grid once the batteries are fully charged, while during subsequent peak load times, a combination of solar and batteries will be used to reduce the cooperative’s peak power demand.

Cypress Creek and United said they look ahead to executing more solar-plus-storage, or “standalone storage projects”. Cypress Creek in particular said that in the short term, solar-plus-storage was of most interest, drawing on its track record in developing, financing and constructing utility-scale PV.

“Energy storage is a key component for solar. We see energy storage as inevitable. It makes solar 24/7 and permits us to be better partners to everyone in the energy food chain. Cypress Creek Renewables began building out our storage team in 2016. These efforts are aligned with our goal to create a generation profile that more accurately matches the needs of our utility partners and retail customers,” Cypress Creek chairman Ben Van de Bunt said.

“Energy storage allows Cypress Creek Renewables to provide ancillary services to utilities to help them with reliability concerns and to allow them to defer investment in certain types of grid updates.”  

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