SunPower, Schneider supplying Solar-Battery Storage for AI-driven Microgrid at Aemetis Biorefinery

Feb. 8, 2022
The microgrid will be integrated with an artificial intelligence distributed control system at the Keyes biorefinery. Overall, Aemetis predicted, the solar-storage microgrid will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 8,000 metric tons per year

Biofuels firm Aemetis will utilize a solar and battery storage microgrid to strengthen power resiliency at its Advanced Fuels biorefinery in Keyes, California.

SunPower and Schneider Electric were selected to provide components for the grid-connected microgrid featuring nearly 2 MW of solar photovoltaic panels and a 1.25-MW battery energy storage system.

The microgrid will be integrated with an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven distributed control system at the Keyes biorefinery. Overall, Aemetis predicted, the solar-storage microgrid will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 8,000 metric tons per year.

The microgrid offers resiliency in case of grid outages and also can assist with off peak shaving and energy efficiency at the Advanced Fuels ethanol and renewable natural gas upgrading and injection facility in Keyes.

The $12 million solar microgrid, battery backup and AI-enabled energy system is supported by an $8 million grant awarded to Aemetis by the California Energy Commission.

“At a time when the transportation industry is driving to meet sustainability goals and reduce emissions, solar continues to become a bigger part of our daily lives with innovative solutions that help improve our air quality,” said Eric Potts, Executive Vice President for Commercial at SunPower. “SunPower is proud to work with Aemetis to utilize the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which drives renewable options for their operations and is helping the transportation sector decarbonize across the west. We applaud Aemetis for their leadership and leveraging the power of the sun.”

The solar array will generate approximately 3.2 million kWh per year. In addition to designing and supplying the photovoltaic solar system, SunPower will serve as the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor.

The new AI-enabled control system will run on virtualized servers, reducing the amount of computer hardware by 80%, which will require less power to operate than traditional systems. Virtualized systems do not require changing hardware to upgrade obsolescent operating systems or security changes. The virtual environment will also help reduce planned and unplanned down time.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can reached at [email protected]).