The Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN has installed a Sunverge Solar Integration System (SIS) to provide reliable backup electric power to meet operational needs during power outages. Storing power from the center’s solar panels, this installation—the first of its kind in Minnesota—will ensure vital center operations never miss a beat, even when the grid goes down. The SIS will also allow the center to serve as a community charging resource during times of disaster, keeping citizens connected with the people they need to contact.
“We’re thrilled to bring this unique emergency resource to the people of Duluth,” said Tom O’Rourke, executive director of Hartley Nature Center. “We are committed to nature and to our community, and being able to call on our solar power via the Sunverge system lets us meet both those commitments.”
Hartley Nature Center serves more than 25,000 visitors a year, including more than 17,000 school-aged children, through field trips, special events and public programs. The adjacent Hartley Park offers 660 acres of widely varied recreational opportunities.
The project is the result of community partnerships and support. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program, the Clean Energy Group, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and the City of Duluth. Other partners include renewable energy non-profit group Ecolibrium3, as well as the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Lake Superior College, the Minnesota Power Foundation, Werner Electric, Innovative Solar Inc., Solar Market Pathways and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Chapter 242). The system was installed by Great Northern Solar, a Sunverge Authorized Installer.
Sunverge’s systems capture excess power generated by the rooftop solar panels installed by homeowners and small businesses. Using sophisticated intelligence that is integral to the system, the SIS will automatically switch from the electric grid to stored renewable power at peak demand times, when energy prices are at their highest. This saves owners money on their monthly power bill and reduces the emissions from traditional power plants.
In many cases, individual SIS units are aggregating into a “Virtual Power Plant” that can help utilities reduce the need to switch on expensive and polluting central power plants at peak times. This connection of the units as a VPP through a flexible cloud-based software platform makes possible the transition to power as a service and allows more intelligent, automatic, and efficient management of distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources.
“This project is an excellent use case for intelligent energy storage,” said Ken Munson, co-founder and CEO of Sunverge Energy. “The center is providing a valuable service to Duluth residents and demonstrating what’s possible when you combine renewable power, intelligent energy storage, and forward-thinking customers like Hartley.”