Iowa’s pioneering solar company chooses NEXTracker’s storage solution for Maharishi University of Management project to reduce peak demand charges
FREMONT, CA, USA, May 1, 2018 — NEXTracker™, a Flex company, today announced that Iowa-based Ideal Energy will construct a 1.1 megawatt (MW) power plant at the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, IA using the NEXTracker NX Flow™ integrated solar-plus-storage system. The project will be built on University land and, when completed, it is projected to be one of the largest solar-plus-storage power plants in the state, producing enough energy to cover nearly a third of the University’s annual electricity usage. In addition to those savings, NX Flow will use peak-shaving to significantly reduce MUM’s utility bill during high-demand times.
NX Flow’s energy storage system integrates battery, solar tracker, inverter, and software technologies to improve return on investment for owners of solar power plants. At the core of the system lies an advanced vanadium flow battery (VFB), which is DC-coupled with the photovoltaic array. With NX Flow, the battery charges directly off the array, enabling the battery to store “clipped” energy up to its capacity limit. Energy that has been lost to clipping can now be used to generate additional kilowatt-hours of revenue.
“NX Flow’s solar-plus-storage solution for Maharishi University of Management will make it a benchmark for advanced energy in Iowa,” said Alex Au, Chief Technology Officer of NEXTracker. “NEXTracker looks forward to pairing more storage solutions with the leading solar plant installation expertise of Ideal Energy and partnering with utilities for win-win solutions. Together we can help drive the fast growth trajectory of the Midwestern market for advanced renewable energy solutions. We’re also pleased to help lessen the demand charges and utility bills faced by customers in Iowa.”
“We’re excited to be a part of the solar project serving Maharishi University of Management and working to help further solidify Iowa’s spot on the renewable energy leader board,” said Amy Van Beek, cofounder of Ideal Energy. “When it came time to recommend a solar-and-storage solution, NEXTracker was not only the clear choice with its next-generation technology and trackers, but its customer-first approach is second to none, and the short product delivery lead times on an accelerated schedule were essential. We look forward to furthering Iowa’s promising solar future.”
With 37 percent of Iowa’s electricity coming from wind power, Iowa is no stranger to producing renewable energy. And, according to The Solar Foundation’s 2017 National Solar Jobs census, with an increase of 45 percent of solar jobs in 2017 alone, the state is expanding its clean energy production to include solar energy.
As Iowa has relatively high demand charges (typically above $20/kW), it is an ideal state for solar plus storage, according the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
For the MUM project, Ideal Energy will also be installing NEXTracker’s award-winning smart solar tracker, NX Horizon, for decentralized active tracking. NX Horizon holds the number one market share position for trackers worldwide with over 12 gigawatts of systems delivered. With independent rows, high-slope tolerance and rapid assembly features, construction risk is minimized, and project schedules are accelerated. Key mechanical and electrical components have substantial ground clearance, minimizing flood, snow, and vegetation concerns. With NX Horizon, each row is remotely monitored, leveraging advanced data science capabilities to ensure maximum performance and availability. NX Horizon is certified to UL 2703 and UL 3703 standards, underscoring NEXTracker’s commitment to safety, reliability and quality.
 “Solar Jobs Census 2017: Iowa,” The Solar Foundation, March 2018. https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/solar-jobs-census-factsheet-2017-ia/
 “Customers in Most States Could Cut Energy Costs by Adding Battery Storage to Solar,” Seth Mullendore, Sept. 14, 2017. https://www.nrel.gov/technical-assistance/blog/posts/customers-in-most-states-could-cut-energy-costs-by-adding-battery-storage-to-solar.html
NEXTracker, a Flex company, advances the power plant of the future with smart solar tracker, energy storage, and software control applications that yield additional energy, optimize performance and reduce costs for project and plant owners. As the number-one tracker supplier worldwide with over 12 GW delivered or under fulfillment, NEXTracker is globally recognized for delivering smart and connected energy solutions for hundreds of projects across five continents. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, the company has offices in Australia, India, Latin America, and Europe. For more information, visit: NEXTracker.com and follow the company on Twitter @NEXTracker.
About Ideal Energy
Ideal Energy has designed and built many of the largest and most advanced solar installations in the Midwest. The company’s portfolio includes multiple innovative, award-winning projects including the first net-zero manufacturing facility in Iowa, and the first solar + battery energy storage system in the state. With hundreds of installations deployed across the Midwest and nearly a decade at the cutting edge of the solar industry, Ideal Energy was the obvious choice for the University’s project. For more information, visit: www.idealenergysolar.com
Amy Van Beek