THE ENERGIZER BUNNY
Dual-Use Photovoltaic (PV) and Pasture-Raised Rabbit Farms Project
What do bunnies have to do with Renewable Energy?
This unique Department of Energy project facilitates dual-use of land for agriculture and photovoltaics in a way that is innovative, sustainable and could help propel America to a lower-carbon future. The Energizer Bunny project combines zero emissions PV with pasture-fed rabbits. For this project, we designed a system for raising pasture-fed rabbits, co-located with a PV system. Group NIRE, in coordination with Michigan Tech University and Sandia National Labs, will build and test a 20kW pilot in order to evaluate the technical, economic, environmental, and social feasibility of the approach. The end goal is a viable and comprehensive manual to be published freely for rabbit and PV co-farmers.
As solar capacity grows across the U.S., the impact of utility scale installations on native vegetation and biological diversity has increased. These factors have put pressure on local social acceptance of PV. This project has the potential to radically improve social acceptance of large-scale PV, while generating another revenue stream for PV farm owners that is of equivalent economic value to the solar electricity generated.
MODERNIZING THE GRID
Over the last century, power has been delivered from large, centralized power sources to customers, requiring only a one-way power flow. Today, the grid is evolving to deliver power from alternative sources, including solar panels on rooftops or customer-owned battery storage. This requires a power grid that supports two-way power flow.
THE PLACE TO TEST
Real World Testing
Stretching over 2,000 acres, our field site is built for industry, government and academia to demonstrate how technologies such as solar modules, wind turbines, inverters, electric vehicles, and smart appliances interact with each other and the grid. We believe simulating realistic scenarios in a controlled environment is good, but interconnecting that same technology on the electric grid is better. Our facility allows manufacturers to go beyond the lab and see how their solutions actually perform in the field.
"In simulated testing, you anticipate real-world results will follow. At Group NIRE, our test site is the real world."
MARK HARRAL, JD Chief Executive Officer
Our Research Facility
Our research facility is designed to assist the industry in developing and testing DERs and energy management systems. The facility serves as a testbed for performance and reliability testing of DERs, support standards development, and investigate other emerging, complex system integration issues. The facility is connected to the electric distribution system at 12.47kV with a 208 V transformer to power the building.
The facility can operate in parallel to the grid or can operate in island, providing high levels of electrical reliability. The system can disconnect from the utility during large events (i.e., faults, voltage collapses), but has the capability to disconnect intentionally when the quality of power from the grid falls below certain standards.
Plug and Play Facility
GRID + BATTERY
Energy storage promises to play a key role in the modernization of our electric grid. Several of these technologies are still at an early stage and require more data on their performance, reliability and safety through extended use under realistic grid conditions.
Our facility provides a location for grid-tied field demonstrations of both residential and utility scale storage systems. We work with the third-party certification body of your choice to evaluate storage capacity, losses and round-trip efficiency of your energy storage solution in a real world environment.
Benefits of Energy Storage
- Balance Load – to shift energy consumption into the future, often by several hours – so that more existing generating capacity is used efficiently.
- Bridge Power – in other words, to ensure there is no break in service during the seconds-to-minutes required to switch from one power generation source to another.
- Power Quality Management – the control of voltage and frequency to avoid damaging sensitive equipment – is an increasing concern that storage can alleviate whenever needed, for a few seconds or less, many times each day.
Group NIRE, in partnership with Texas Tech University, Sandia National Laboratories and Vestas, built and deployed the new Scaled Wind Farm Technology ("SWiFT") facility. Commissioned on July 9, 2013 at the Reese Technology Center, the SWiFT facility consists of three small-scale wind turbines totaling a nameplate capacity of 900kw.
As part of its role with the SWiFT project, Group NIRE worked and successfully acquired both the necessary Power Purchase Agreements for the project and the Interconnection Agreement. Group NIRE was able to secure these agreements with erecting the Vestas wind turbine at the site.
SWiFT is the first project in the United States that will study wind farms instead of individual wind turbines. Additionally the project arose to help eliminate wake issues that generally occur on wind farms. SWiFT is a unique facility that gives the country an opportunity to address wind farm underperformance, much of which can be attributed to turbine-to-turbine interaction. The SWiFT facility allows for rapid, cost-efficient testing and development of transformative wind energy technology, with specific emphasis on improving wind plant performance.