What is solar energy used for?

Once converted into electricity, solar energy is used in homes and businesses just like any other form of electricity. 

 

What are some advantages of solar energy?

After the initial investment in solar-energy equipment, the costs are minimal since the sun provides free "fuel." These facilities are not affected by the supply and demand of fuel or subject to price volatility, and solar energy can help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. Solar energy is also clean and renewable, which helps protect our environment.

 

How Does Solar Energy Work?


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1. As light hits the solar panels, the solar energy is converted into direct current (DC) electricity.

2. The direct current flows from the panels into power inverters and is converted into altering current (AC) electricity, which is suitable for use by homes and businesses.

3. The AC electricity from the power inverters is collected using cables and delivered to a central electrical substation, where it passes through a power transformer.

4. The electricity travels through transformers, and the voltage is boosted for delivery onto the transmission lines.

5. Clean, renewable, American-made solar electricity is delivered to homes and businesses.

 

How many solar facilities does your company have and where are they located?

Through its subsidiaries, NextEra Energy Resources is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. We currently have ownership interests in 3,160 MW of operating solar projects (as of Dec. 31, 2020), representing universal-scale solar facilities in 27 states, as well as multiple small-scale (distributed generation) solar projects.

 

Are solar facilities good for the environment?

Solar energy emits no pollutants and the overall impact of solar on human health is overwhelmingly positive. To learn more, view our solar environment page.

 

What percentage of generation does solar energy represent in the NextEra Energy Resources' portfolio?

Solar energy represents about 13 percent of NextEra Energy Resources' generation.

 

What do you look for in a site when building a renewable energy project?

We look for a location with good wind or solar resources, landowners who are interested in hosting our equipment and proximity to transmission lines.

 

If I have land and want you to assess its suitability for a renewable energy project, how do I get you to come out to look at it?

We cannot guarantee that we will assess every parcel of land presented to us. However, you can contact us for more information.

 

How much land does a solar project require?

Typically, a project will require 5 to 8 acres of land for each megawatt of solar energy capacity.

 

Is there construction traffic?

Yes. During construction there will be additional traffic. Although the construction period is only a matter of months, it will require heavy equipment, including bulldozers, graders, trenching machines, concrete trucks, flatbed trucks and large cranes.

 

How long will it take to complete construction?

It depends on the size of the project. However, 12 to 18 months is a reasonable time frame to build most solar projects.

 



How do battery energy storage systems work?

Energy from the power grid or from renewable energy sources is delivered via a bi-directional inverter, which converts the energy from alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). Today's batteries can only store DC. This energy goes into an array of batteries that is typically housed within a battery container or a building structure.

When the energy is needed on the power system, the inverters are then used again, but this time to convert the DC from the batteries into AC. Once the power has been transformed, it is stepped up in voltage and subsequently sent to an on-site substation or directly to a distribution or transmission line.

A Battery Management System monitors the individual cells and controls the voltage, temperature and current for safe, reliable transfer of energy. The system automatically shuts off if the batteries are operating outside of predefined parameters.

The electricity is then distributed to homes, schools, businesses and other consumers.

What are the components that make up a battery energy storage system?

A storage system consists of:

  • Individual battery cells (the size of an iPad)
  • These cells are put into battery modules and stacked on racks
  • The racks fill containers, not unlike a storage container you’d see on a ship or truck
  • The containers are paired with inverters to convert DC-AC electricity
  • The system includes HVAC to maintain temperature control
  • Can be paired with a renewable energy asset (solar, wind) or stand alone
 

What is the value of energy storage for both a utility and its customers?

Battery storage helps optimize the way the power grid delivers electricity to customers with a wide variety of use cases, including:           

  • Smoothing out fluctuations in frequency and voltage
  • Replacing traditional peaking generation units
  • Reducing energy losses and waste
  • Avoiding the need for some system upgrades, including big transmission projects
  • Extending the hours a renewable energy project can operate, i.e., even after the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing
  • Allowing customers to enjoy more renewable energy, more hours of the day

Energy storage technologies are highly flexible and controllable resources, capable of fast response to system needs and near instantaneous ramp to full capacity in either charge or discharge mode. Projects can be scaled in size to match any site—be that co-located with a power plant, installed at a substation, directly connected to a transmission or distribution line, or sited at customer premises—and can provide services interchangeably to wholesale markets, distribution grids, and end users.


What type of batteries will the storage system employ?

Most battery energy storage systems employ lithium ion batteries.

  • Lithium ion is the dominant technology because it benefits from more than $100 billion in R&D from the electric vehicle industry
  • This is also the prevalent battery technology found in laptop computers, iPads, and other electronics
  • NextEra Energy Resources has its own battery testing facility to measure battery performance and degradation, as well as testing alternative technologies


What’s the risk of a battery energy storage system catching fire?

  • All of the battery module designs included in our facilities undergo rigorous industry testing and certification related to fire safety, in order to minimize the risk that a failure of any single battery cell or module spreads to adjacent batteries or other equipment
  • NextEra Energy Resources has a control center in Florida that is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that monitors and can control the operation of all of our assets remotely
  • The company works with local first responders and fire officials to educate them about the technology and coordinate any response, in the unlikely event of a fire
  • NextEra Energy Resources storage systems comply with all local, state, and federal regulations in terms of operations, fire protection, and disposal of waste from storage operations
 

Has your company built other energy storage systems?

NextEra Energy Resources has approximately 700 MW of operational energy storage, including:

  • Frontier Battery Energy Storage System, Illinois
  • Elmira Energy Storage, Ontario
  • Gopher Energy Storage, Anoka and Isanti counties, Minnesota
  • Mantua Creek Battery Energy Storage System, New Jersey
  • Green Mountain Battery Energy Storage, Pennsylvania
  • Casco Bay Battery Energy Storage System, Maine
  • Pima Battery Energy Storage System, Arizona
  • Blue Summit Energy Storage, Texas
  • Minuteman Storage, Massachusetts
  • Montauk Energy Center, New York
  • East Hampton Energy Center, New York
  • Parry Energy Storage, Parry Sound, Ontario
  • Pinal Energy Storage, Arizona
  • Rush Springs Energy Storage, Oklahoma
  • Blythe II Storage, California
  • Various behind-the-meter energy storage projects in California and Massachusetts

Additionally, the company is developing nearly 2 GW of energy storage projects across the U.S. and Canada that are under long-term contracts. Over one-third of the new solar projects we’re developing for customers now includes a storage component.