Unit 3 of the Cane Island Power Park
Cutting edge power technology is a cornerstone of every POWERGEN International, the annual event for the power generation industry, which is running in Orlando, Florida this last full week of February.
While the conference and exposition officially begin on Tuesday, February 21, enthusiastic attendees from all over the globe flew in early to take in a tour of the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) Gardenia Innovation and Operations Center followed by a tour of the 740MW Cane Island Power Park.
OUC’s facility is where the municipal utility tests pre-commercialized or newly commercialized technology and includes a floating solar array, a vehicle-to-grid bi-directional charger, a 50-kW DC fast charger (soon to be upgraded to 120 kW), several Level 2 EV chargers, a 10-kW/40-kWh vanadium redox flow battery and two underground 8-kW/32-kWh flywheels.
“We want to make sure we understand how they work, their operational characteristics and build new business cases around them before we put them in a position where they could be affecting our customers,” explained Rubin York, one of the three OUC engineers leading the tour.
In addition, OUC is testing a site controller that can operate the system in three main modes: PV smoothing, demand mitigation, which performs autonomous peak shaving, and contingency mode, which collects the assets into a microgrid.
“That is only possible thanks to these flywheels,” said York.
Flywheels flank the combiner box at OUC’s Gardenia Innovation and Operations Center
They go through a grid-forming bi-directional inverter which, in contingency mode, assess the frequency and voltage of the buildings and meters and disconnects the EV chargers, the PV inverter (per the IEEE standard), and any other load until the flywheels can output a good 60 hertz, 480-volt AC signal, said York. Once the flywheel generation is firm, OUC can slowly bring the loads back up and charge the EVs.
York also showed off the Cloud Impact Mapping System (CIMS), an in-house developed system that was designed to predict the ramp rate of solar PV as clouds come over and depart the solar PV. Should the technology scale, it could prove to be useful to electric utilities in Florida that are relying on a large amount of solar PV generation because Florida generally experiences a large amount of clouds.
“The goal is to build an array of these all around our territory, build a central repository, and have them effectively ‘hand off’ cloud systems to one another,” said York.
The OUC Gardenia site is also host to a rooftop solar array with bifacial solar panels and a solar parking canopy, which covers the parking lots for the facility.
Control Center at Cane Island Power Park
After a quick bus ride and lunch, attendees toured the 740-MW Cane Island Power Park, which was available more than 90% of the time in 2021 and won an award for its exceptional availability.
Unit 3 of the park ran for nine months with no trips said Ken Rutter, COO of the Florida Municipal Power Authority (FMPA), which owns the plant. He added that the unit ran through Hurricane Ian and supplied power to customers who were able to accept it.
The POWERGEN group was split into four smaller groups and taken all throughout the park, viewing each generating unit, one turbine (that was not currently operating), condensers, cooling towers, the control center, and more. Rutter encouraged attendees to ask their tour guides anything at all – and they certainly took him up on that offer.
Cooling Towers at Cane Island Power Park