First published at on Mar 22 2016

Solar+storage systems scale as commercial operation grows in Southern California

SimpliPhi Power and California Solar Electric have completed the second phase of an off-grid solar plus storage installation at the Taft Botanical Gardens in Ojai, Calif, which are part of an eco resort owned by the non-profit Conservation Endowment Fund. The second phase of the installation included an additional eight PHI2.6 kWh batteries (doubling the PHI power storage), providing enough extra power capacity to run electrical loads well into the night without utilising a generator for a total of 41.6 kWh of stored PV power.



Taft Gardens was challenged to preserve the pristine natural environment of the gardens while at the same time generating and harvesting enough off-grid power to accommodate expanding operations at this remote location. California Solar Electric originally designed and installed an off-grid hybrid solar power generation and storage solution that would eliminate trenching power lines and dramatically reduce generator use and fuel consumption for the eco resort. Phase one of the off-grid solar plus storage system involved the installation of eight PHI2.6 kWh batteries (48 v) to provide over 20 kWh of stored power for the facilities’ main lodge and three separate living quarters. A year later, it was evident that the solar PV generation exceeded both the resort’s daily electricity loads and the battery storage capacity. Increasing the battery storage allowed them to capture all their PV generation and store more power for evening loads in order to maximise their capital investment – all off grid.



“Taft Gardens educates visitors about environmental conservation, so the challenge was to incorporate a truly sustainable, scalable energy resource into the property that would become a part of the educational experience while still being reliable and easily scalable as operations increased,” said Catherine Von Burg, CEO of SimpliPhi Power. “California Solar Electric looked to our non-toxic and safe low-voltage storage solution for its performance and accessibility – empowering the high-end eco resort managers to become active participants in their own energy resource generation and utilisation on-site. The SimpliPhi batteries are so versatile and user-friendly, the staff can even safely disconnect and re-purpose the batteries if needed in a sudden or long-term off-grid emergency. ”

Critical to the success of the off-grid power system was an enduring and robust energy storage solution that was non-toxic and that would eliminate the need for temperature monitoring and cooling, the use of fossil fuels and trenching transmission lines across miles of rugged terrain. California Solar Electric installed SimpliPhi’s battery solution because they are proven to perform in hot climates, such as those in Southern California, and their modularity met the project’s needs for scalable capacity expansion without additional transmission infrastructure or equipment upgrades.

“We have customers who are looking to expand their power storage capacity to match expansion of their businesses or home energy needs, and we even have customers looking to retrofit their grid-tied solar systems with storage. Having SimpliPhi’s solution, that is modular and scales without increasing voltage as the batteries are wired in parallel, gives us opportunities to expand capacity or add storage without changing other equipment like charge controllers or inverters,” said California Solar Electric CEO Don Campbell. “For Taft Gardens, this approach allowed us to fully utilize a distributed energy model of power generation and storage assets to make each building independent and power secure beyond the traditional limits of the transmission grid.”