The project, made possible with a $1.39 million contract awarded to Maxwell by the California Energy Commission’s Research and Development, aims to improve the integration of solar power into the electric grid.
Ultracapacitors are energy storage devices that charge rapidly from any electrical energy source and discharge their stored energy on demand. In combination with a photovoltaic system, their function will be to act as a standby reservoir of electrical energy to mitigate the variability of solar energy generation. This additional energy storage system will diversify UC San Diego’s existing microgrid, demonstrate the cost savings and efficiency benefits of combining ultracapacitors with concentrated solar photovoltaic systems, and advance California toward its goal of 33 percent renewable energy generation by 2020, Maxwell says.
The project starts this month and will run through November 2015. Independent evaluation of the performance of the integrated systems will be performed by DNV KEMA under a sub-contract with Maxwell.
Soitec’s new fifth-generation Concentrix CPV systems incorporate modules with module efficiency two to three times the efficiency of conventional photovoltaic technology. CPV technology converts sunlight directly into clean electricity via concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells, offering the best design for use in sunny regions as it delivers environmentally friendly, low-cost, reliable solar-generated electricity. Additionally, the CPV system’s two-axis tracker allows a high and constant power production throughout daylight hours.
In April it emerged that Maxwell Technologies is supplying the ultracapacitors for an energy-saving braking energy recuperation system that American Maglev Technology, is installing on light rail vehicles operated by the Portland, Ore., area’s TriMet transit authority.
TriMet won a $4.2 million grant from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration Transit Investment for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction, or TIGGER, program to improve the efficiency of its fleet of 101 light rail vehicles equipped with regenerative braking after determining that the vehicles were able to use only about 70 percent of the energy generated by braking.
The company’s ultracapacitors were also recently installed in a power system that operates 26 ship-to-shore cranes for loading and unloading container ships at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, in China.