In 2021, the United States installed a record 3 gigawatts of utility-scale battery backup systems, according to the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report by Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association (ACP). It was the first time the U. S. commercial solar installation had exceeded 2 gigawatts in a single year. The 3-gigawatt number in commercial solar installation will likely be exceeded in 2022, possibly by double.
Commercial Solar Installation
The exponential growth of utility-scale solar and wind farms—which rely on intermittent sources for their power—is pushing similar growth in battery storage to supply power when the sun is down and the wind is calm. Just as aerial and GIS data help with site planning for these generating systems, it can inform the placement of battery storage.
Many commercial solar farms occupy large acreages, meaning there are many possible locations for the batteries. One consideration is the location of power substations. A distance of as little as two miles between the storage location and the substation can mean a power loss of around 5%. This decreases the power available and raises the cost per megawatt hour for every MWh generated, to make up for the loss.
Aerial photography can clearly show the location of substations and power grids, allowing planners to estimate distances and any related power loss during transit.
As storage requirements grow, so does the space needed for the batteries. Aerial photography can quickly identify spaces large enough to accommodate the needs.
Greater size and greater energy density mean more concerns about cooling and safety. Cooling fans can be noisy, and the danger of fire, while slim, is real. Locating such a system away from high-density population, industry or retail is also a priority, which aerial data can inform.
The proximity of access roads, fences, and other necessary surface data are also part of the package.
For any installation the site’s terrain is key, and it is no different for utility-scale storage. First, a relatively flat site minimizes dirt work. If the best site does slope significantly, aerially-acquired elevation data lets them accurately budget for the amount needed.
Elevation data can also reveal stream networks and watershed basins. A proposed site may be flat, yet positioned within a drainage basin in such a way that significant amounts of runoff could impact the site, making it unsuitable.
See What You Need to See
With resolutions available as close as 2.5 centimeters, even small features are visible, when necessary. Even the more standard resolutions around 15 cm give a clear view of a wide range of features.
Want to see certain features like roads or power lines more clearly? We can create planimetrics that digitize the items you’re tracking, making them stand out for easy visibility.
Our data is always fresh, gathered shortly after you order it—as opposed to free satellite imagery that may be recent, but could also be months or years old, and things could have changed in the meantime.
We can deliver your data in any format you need. Have a GIS system? Great. If not, we offer many other options.
You probably have questions about many things covered in brief here. That’s great! Please contact us HERE and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you have about how our affordable, timely, and detailed data can give you the critical information you need for site planning and other issues.
At Prius Intelli, we collect our imagery using manned fixed-wing aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art sensors capable of resolutions ranging from 2.5-15 cm. This provides current, crisp data on any project. For GIS mapping, we process the information through advanced analytics to provide comprehensive base maps with geospatial data and analysis.