Editor’s note: In this Austin Central Library case study, Apparent reported that the renewable energy generated by the Austin Central Library’s solar arrays was estimated to power 130 homes and produce an annual energy savings of $100,000. This representation instead relates to the Austin Central Library’s estimated energy savings from smart, energy efficient building design, for which it achieved a LEED platinum rating, as well as the solar kWh produced and Apparent platform’s ability to meet voltage and ancillary service demands behind the meter (BTM). Apparent’s platform allows it to manage individual inverters BTM in parallel with the point of common coupling, which enables it to operate while still meeting the curtailment requirements of Austin Energy’s downtown grid. There are other clean energy solutions that can interconnect with Austin Energy’s downtown grid but without the additional benefits offered by the Apparent platform.
To help meet the City of Austin’s goal to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2035, Austin Central Library (ACL) is utilizing energy management technology from Apparent to gain 30% higher utilization out of one of downtown’s largest solar arrays. Apparent was the only energy management company capable of meeting Austin Energy’s strict grid synchronization requirements, with a hardware and software solution that results in more than $100,000 in annual savings. Apparent’s cloud-based, intelligent grid operating system (igOS) is managing the 180-kW solar array at the library, consisting of 555 325-W solar panels and Apparent’s proprietary microinverters. The system produced 157.35 MWh in 2019.
“Our team at Austin Central Library strives to incorporate sustainable measures within our buildings,” said Sharon Herfurth, Office of Programs & Partnerships and Division Manager for Austin Central Library. “Using technology that helps us save on energy allows us to put more of our resources towards what really matters: our community.”
Apparent technology monitors ACL’s demand and, working in sub-seconds, matches available solar generation to the facility’s energy needs. This real-time process enables the inverters to maximize solar generation and use behind-the-meter. Apparent met Austin Energy’s required management scope for an interconnected behind the meter distributed energy generator by ensuring ACL’s solar system would not export (backfeed) any energy to the grid and could read, reckon, and react to signals from the utility in three-seconds or less.
Unique in its application, the system’s self-diagnosis capability to shut down individual inverters while still allowing the rest of the inverter string and system to operate was also a crucial functionality. Today, ACL’s solar generator managed by Apparent operates seamlessly with the local grid while keeping costs down and lowering the library’s carbon footprint. In addition, the technology is plug-and-play, making the transition seamless for library staff.
“With consumer-based clean energy generation expected to increase by 50% between 2019 and 2024, the Austin Central Library is a great example for cities to mirror,” said Jacqueline DeSouza, President of Apparent, “As distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar, battery storage, and electric vehicles, are adopted at growing rates, being able to use their energy generation and storage potential transforms energy from a commodity to a controllable asset.”
Apparent’s energy management platform actively manages clean energy from any connected source to provide the exact amount of energy where and when it’s needed. In the case of ACL, Apparent prevents power from going where it’s not needed or required by the building or local grid. Apparent’s unique solutions present applications for a new energy market that connects behind-the-meter consumer supply and demand with the energy market.
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