SOLAR MICROGRIDS AND CHARGING STATIONS TO BE PLACED AT SCHOOLS
The Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) has unanimously approved an ambitious initiative with the Clean Coalition, a nonprofit organization, and Sage Energy Consulting to stage solar-driven microgrids and electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI) at schools throughout the District. The microgrids will feature solar and energy storage that can provide long-duration resilience, along with EVCI that supports District staff and students during the day — and provides overnight charging options for neighbors who have challenges installing electric vehicle chargers where they live.
As deadly wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) become the “new normal” in California, communities are increasingly turning to renewables-driven microgrids to maintain power for their most critical loads during grid outages that can last for days or potentially weeks. To bring these communities unparalleled economic, environmental, and resilience benefits, the Clean Coalition has been designing and staging Community Microgrids in California and beyond, including the Goleta Load Pocket Community Microgrid, which can ultimately provide indefinite renewables-driven resilience to the grid-vulnerable Santa Barbara region.
A Community Microgrid is a new approach for designing and operating electric grids. Going beyond traditional microgrids, which serve only a single customer, Community Microgrids can serve entire communities by providing indefinite renewables-driven resilience to the most critical community loads — and serve all loads for significant portions of time.
The levels of solar-driven resilience in this chart are achieved in California via a net zero level of solar combined with energy storage capacity equating to two hours of the nameplate solar production (for example, 200 kWh of energy storage for 100 kW of solar):
Schools are ideal sites for solar-driven microgrids, because they are located throughout our communities and often serve as emergency shelters. With large parking lots, schools are also well situated to benefit from solar parking canopies and EVCI. Schools can facilitate electric vehicle (EV) adoption by significantly increasing the number of publicly accessible charging stations — and providing access to neighborhoods that have limited options for charging at home. Apartment buildings, for example, have been notoriously slow in adopting EVCI.