3-MW Solar Plus Storage Microgrid Commissioned at Biofuels Plant

May 24, 2024
The system, which was partially funded by an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission, will reduce the amount of grid electricity required by the plant during peak demand hours.

A $12 million, 3-MW solar plus storage microgrid has been commissioned at the Aemetis ethanol plant in Keyes, California.

The system will reduce the amount of grid electricity required by the plant during peak demand hours. Solar energy generated during the day will be stored in the system’s battery storage, giving Aemetis the ability to time-shift its use until later in the day when grid prices are higher.

Aemetis, a renewable natural gas, renewable fuel and biochemicals company based in Cupertino, California, will own and operate the system, which also includes an artificial intelligence energy management system.

The microgrid, which is designed to maximize energy production and minimize energy costs, was funded in part by an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission.

Decarbonizing the manufacturing sector

Aemetis produces 65 million gallons of ethanol per year at the Keyes facility. Byproducts of the ethanol production process, such as wet distillers grain and distillers corn oil, are sold as animal feed to 80 local dairies.

"This large integrated solar and battery storage system is a key step in the conversion of the Keyes ethanol plant to renewable electricity from petroleum natural gas," stated Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis. 

The system will help the company reach its goal of reducing its petroleum natural gas consumption by 90% by 2025, according to the company website.

Eric Potts, vice president of TotalEnergies Renewables USA, said the microgrid is a good example of “how the manufacturing sector can play a key role in the decarbonization of energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in California.”

TotalEnergies developed, built and commissioned the system, and it provided the solar technology. Electrical and battery storage equipment was provided by Schneider Electric.

Aemetis is also developing a sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel fuel biorefinery in California. It plans to use renewable hydrogen, hydroelectric power and renewable oils to produce low carbon renewable jet and diesel fuel.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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