Juhl Energy, GE Build Solar-Wind Hybrid Project In Minnesota

Juhl Energy, GE Renewable Energy and Bank of America are partnering for what they call the U.S.’ first commercial, integrated solar-wind hybrid power generation project.

Minnesota-based Juhl Energy developed the 2 MW, community-based renewable energy project to provide locally generated energy to the Lake Region Electric Cooperative of Pelican Rapids, Minn. Bank of America has provided financial support by agreeing to purchase the project’s renewable energy certificates (RECs). 3Degrees facilitated the connection between Juhl Energy and Bank of America.

The project will use one GE 2.0-116 wind turbine, supported by 0.5 MW of PV solar. The project uses GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy technology platform – developed through GE’s Global Research Center – to directly integrate the solar panels through the wind turbine’s converter so that both wind and solar share the same balance of plant, increasing system net capacity by 3%-4% and annual energy production by up to 10%.

“This unique renewable energy project will provide a tremendous amount of value to the local community,” states Tim Thompson, CEO of the Lake Region Electric Cooperative. “The cost-savings from purchasing the hybrid project’s energy will help provide rate stability, benefiting all of our co-op members.”

According to the partners, the hybrid design will allow the project to produce power when it is most needed – i.e., solar in the summer and wind in the winter.

“Distributed generation will play a major role in the implementation of renewable energy in the U.S. electrical market in the years to come,” says Dan Juhl of Juhl Energy. “Projects such as this one, with Juhl Energy’s package design and GE hybrid technology, will economically blend clean, renewable energy into the electric grid at a lower cost, plus add reliability to the system.”

Pete McCabe, president and CEO of onshore wind at GE Renewable Energy, adds, “By leveraging the complementary nature of wind and solar, this unique project shows how GE is driving technology innovation that will help customers deliver more renewable energy in an even more efficient manner.”

Bank of America’s purchase of the RECs from the project will cover the bank’s electricity usage in Minnesota and will contribute to its 2020 environmental operations goal of purchasing 100% renewable electricity.

“Accelerating the path to a sustainable future starts with creative thinking and projects that can help drive more low-carbon energy solutions in our communities,” says Alex Liftman, global environmental executive at Bank of America. “Through supporting innovative renewable energy projects like this one, we continue to enhance our commitment to reduce our operational impacts on the environment.”

The project will be owned by a Juhl Energy subsidiary that pools together capital from the company and outside private investors. Juhl is further partnering with Wisconsin-based Faith Technologies Inc. to construct the project and collaborate on building additional hybrid projects. The project is expected to be operational before year-end.

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