Future energy needs

SRP is always looking ahead to ensure the needs of our customers are met. Reliability is our No. 1 product.

Unlike water stored in a reservoir or waiting in a pipe, electricity must be made at the exact time it is needed. Customers flip a switch or hit a button and expect immediate results. To make sure we meet this demand, and do so sustainably, SRP invests resources in long-term strategic planning as well as research and development.

Planning

There are many factors that are taken into account when SRP creates a roadmap for the future. The planning process, called integrated resource planning, has three overarching objectives:

  1. Create a plan to grow SRP's energy generation for the next five years
  2. Continue to keep costs affordable for our customers
  3. Incorporate sustainability goals

The latest cycle of the process was concluded in 2018 and included more than 20 discussions with SRP's elected officials, five-in depth stakeholder meetings and 26 stakeholder interviews. The extensive outreach that is part of this process ensures that the work was properly informed by and responsive to customer, stakeholder and elected official perspectives.

Read the 2017-18 Integrated Resource Plan Report File is a PDF for complete details and conclusions.

Research and development

SRP's team of engineers and scientists works closely with Arizona universities and researcher partners to develop projects that relate to key utility issues — including renewable energy and sustainability. In addition, we were a founding member of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) . Today, EPRI includes over 1,000 organizations in more than 40 countries working together to advance new technology and solutions to meet the most significant needs of the utility industry.

Read below to learn about some of our latest innovations.

 

New stand-alone energy storage system in the works

Image of large white industrial sized batteries on a concrete pad outside.

A stand-alone battery storage system can be charged with low cost or renewable energy sources and the energy then used during peak demand times.

Utility scale energy storage systems are poised to be a vital part of modernizing the grid and SRP recently signed a contract to begin construction on a new 10-megawatt, 40 megawatt-hour stand-alone battery storage system. This is the third battery storage project that launched in May as part of an initiative to learn how to incorporate utility scale energy storage systems into the electricity grid. This latest project, to be built in Chandler, will be charged by an SRP distribution station and construction began in May, 2018.

Incorporating battery storage into the grid will provide other energy options to meet peak demand needs, which occur late in the day. The battery systems can be charged with low-cost or renewable energy. The variable nature of renewable energy production results in energy being produced at times when demand is low. Now, that same energy can be used to charge a battery storage system potentially increasing the use of "clean" energy when demand is highest.

Battery storage projects

“Energy storage is already providing a wealth of services to central Arizona’s grid through other deployments, from supporting the growth of renewables to boosting reliability on transmission and distribution grids,” said Mike Hummel, SRP’s General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. “This latest investment will add much-needed efficiency and value for our more than 1 million electric consumers.”

SRP contracted with the AES Corporation (“AES”) on building the facility and the system will be supplied by Fluence . As the largest provider of power to the greater Phoenix area, SRP is drawing on both AES’ experience developing energy storage projects across its platform and Fluence’s expertise in designing and deploying energy storage solutions in 16 countries. Together, SRP, AES and Fluence will deliver a long-lasting, reliable energy storage solution for central Arizona’s power grid and SRP’s electric customers. This is the first stand-alone system of this type in Arizona.

The Fluence team has a successful track record of deploying and operating energy storage for more than 10 years, including many of the first or largest systems in each market. Fluence delivers superior value for its customers by providing proven, industrial-grade energy storage solutions that perform critical tasks reliably and cost-effectively.

 

Sustainable sub-zero industrial freezer first in the state

In Jan. 2018, Bashas’ distribution center in the Phoenix metro area became a research lab when new technology engineered by Viking Cold Solutions was installed.

The Viking Cold Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology stores thermal energy at night by freezing food-safe Phase Change Material (PCM) specially formulated to freeze at -18°F. The refrigeration equipment then runs significantly less during peak hours, and the freezer “rides” the PCM to maintain stable temperatures and protect the food. The TES provides energy and cost savings for customers with industrial freezers, such as Bashas', and also provides long-term benefits to all SRP customers by reducing peak demand.

The project was a result of a partnership between SRP, Viking Cold Solutions and Bashas’ Family of Stores. SRP is collaborating with Arizona State University's School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment , along with Nexant's Utility Services Group , to measure the results of the project. Results will be used to extrapolate the potential impact of this technology on additional low-temperature refrigeration loads in the Phoenix area.

 

Solar energy after the sun goes down

Image of solar panels extending toward the horizon.

Solar panels field at PCSEC located east of Casa Grande that will generate enough power for 5,000 homes with excess energy stored in a battery storage system.

Solar power generation and energy usage have long been at odds. Peak solar energy production follows the sun, occurring when most are at work or school. Energy usage spikes late in the afternoon into the evening with each flick of the switch as SRP customers return home. Being a power source during this high usage period has not typically been the role of solar power — until now. The new Pinal Central Solar Energy Center (PCSEC) in Casa Grande, an integrated solar and battery storage system plant, stores clean energy produced during the day for use whenever energy demand increases.

The plant is the first of three large scale battery storage projects planned by SRP and the largest of its kind in Arizona. SRP will purchase all of the energy produced at the plant, which is owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources .

“The project’s design allows SRP to utilize solar and battery storage together to optimize clean energy output to benefit our customers,” said SRP General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hummel. “In addition, the plant will assist SRP in meeting our goals for renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions.”

PCSEC by the numbers

  • 20 MW solar photovoltaic generation facility
  • Consists of 258,000 solar panels on 257 acres of land
  • 10 MW lithium-ion battery storage system integrated with plant to store excess energy
  • 150 construction jobs will be created and four full time positions
  • Over $7 million in additional revenue will be generated for Pinal County over the operational lifetime

The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  Currently, SRP is on schedule to meet that goal by utilizing solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power and energy-efficiency measures. Additionally, SRP set a goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions intensity by 33 percent by 2035.

“We are delighted to work with SRP to bring this innovative solar and energy storage facility online and deliver unprecedented value to its customers,” said Matt Handel, vice president of renewable development for NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. “The project also brings significant economic benefit to the region, creating jobs and providing additional tax revenue to the communities that host it.”

 

Drone teams tested and coming to SRP

Research students demonstrate how drones could be used to grab debris out of canals.

“This project features a great balance between real-world problems and fundamental research, which leads to great impact in both industry and academia,” said Dr. Zhang.

Precision position estimation, communications protocols and control algorithms are only a fraction of the work that has been completed by ASU’s Dr. Wenlong Zhang’s students to create “teams” of drones. The new drone teams, which have been successfully tested, are destined to become a part of SRP.

What role could a team of drones potentially fill? Thus far, they have been used to perform collaborative tasks such as land surveillance, ash pond monitoring and collecting water and soil samples. The new technology provides an efficient way to access remote locations and even urban ones, such as the canals, to take samples. The data is then transmitted in real-time to SRP scientists, speeding up the analysis and detection of issues.

SRP has had a research agreement with the ASU Tempe campus for more than 35 years and added a contract specifically for Polytechnic in 2012, with grants going to the campus’s Advanced Technology Innovation Center. The Polytechnic partnership targets projects related to key utility issues and renewable and sustainable energy – and it has thrived.

“It’s really a success story in that the program has grown a lot,” said SRP’s Chico Hunter, Manager, Research & Environmental Policy. “It helps keep us in touch with what is going on and how we can apply it to SRP’s research needs.”

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