North America’s Largest DC Microgrid Up and Running at Honda Distribution Center

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Honda is continuing its strong push into distributed energy for its California facilities, recently completing a DC microgrid at its parts distribution center in Chino and a 2-MW solar array at its campus in Torrance.

Undertaken with Bosch Building Grid Technology (BGT) group, the Chino project is the largest commercial-scale, DC microgrid in North America, in terms of both electrical load and facility square footage, according to Honda.

The microgrid allows the distribution center to use and store 300 kW of DC connected solar power directly without exporting it to the electric grid. LED lighting, ventilation fans, forklift charging, and other loads in the facility use power from the microgrid.

In addition, the microgrid’s 546-kWh lithium ion battery provides backup power during grid outages, increases energy efficiency, and optimizes the system’s renewable energy.

The Chino facility is also home to an existing 1-MW solar array, completed in 2016, that provides more than 1,400 MWh of solar energy every year.

With the  DC microgrid now in place, the Chino distribution center will be able to use 100 percent  on-site solar power, allowing it to meet  California’s 2030 Zero Net Energy Commercial Building goal.

Torrance campus uses smart solar plus storage

Honda also recently flipped the switch on a solar system for its Torrance campus, which Honda says now houses the largest solar array on a commercial building in Southern California. It’s also one of Honda’s largest on-site renewable energy installations globally.

The solar array’s 6,000 panels are expected to generate about 3,000 MWh annually. It will offset roughly 30 percent of the electricity the Torrance campus would otherwise purchase from the grid. The system also will feed the facility’s electric vehicle charging stations.

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American Honda’s Torrance, Calif. campus features more than 6,000 solar panels. (PRNewsfoto/Honda)

The 60 EV charging stations will be managed by a Honda-developed cloud-based energy system that matches EV charging demand with solar production to maximize the amount of solar energy used.

Three lithium ion batteries will improve the integration of renewable energy with the electric grid, smoothing out any abrupt changes in power generation that occur, for example, when a cloud covers the sun. The batteries — one 500 kW/1,000 kWh and two 100-kW 200-kWh — also can be used to even out the buildings’ power usage and cut energy costs by reducing utility demand charges.

“Installing the solar and battery system on Honda’s Torrance campus is a win-win-win solution that will help Honda reach its renewable energy goals, save money and reduce CO2 emissions,” said Ryan Harty, manager of Connected and Environmental Business Development and Engineering at American Honda. “Charging electric vehicles with sunshine is also very satisfying for our associates. The transition to renewable energy and electric transportation go hand-in-hand.”

Track news about DC microgrid projects by following Microgrid Knowledge on Twitter @MicrogridNews.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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