In October, OUC’s Board of Commissioners approved plans to add 149 megawatts of solar energy – enough to meet the annual energy needs of 27,000 residential customers – and test a cutting-edge hydrogen system for storing solar power.

The Commission’s $200 million proposal to purchase power from two, 74.5-megawatt solar farms will double OUC’s solar generation portfolio. Clean-energy provider Invenergy will build and operate the arrays on two 500- to 600-acre sites in Osceola County. The first site is scheduled to come online at the end of 2022, with the next to follow a year later.

Invenergy also will provide battery storage for a pilot project conducted at OUC’s St. Cloud East substation. The pilot will test the effectiveness of batteries to store energy for use later during peak load periods. Coupled with the 108.5 megawatts of solar scheduled to come online next year as part of the Florida Municipal Solar Project of which OUC is the tenant anchor, the additional capacity is expected to make OUC the largest provider of solar energy in Florida on a watt-per-customer basis, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Our advancements in solar power generation complement our plan for evaluating hydrogen storage of solar electricity. This technology holds the potential to revolutionize storage of solar power, in comparison to the industry standard lithium-ion batteries.

The $9 million research initiative is being partially funded by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The pilot project will be located adjacent to a floating solar array at OUC’s Gardenia location. “A hydrogen battery system could be the key to unlocking reliable and long-lasting solar generation during cloudy days and at night,” said Justin Kramer, OUC’s Supervisor of Emerging Technologies & Renewables.

“We see this pilot project as just the first step toward building an integrated system of sustainable energy resources.” The solar and hydrogen developments come as OUC transitions toward a clean energy future.