Islas Secas Stationary Hybrid Power Plant
The Panamanian island of Islas Secas is powered by a 355kW PV array located next to the island’s air strip. Similar to a plug-in Prius, the PV array and batteries power all of the island’s electrical systems throughout the year. For heavy loads or unexpected bad weather, the system can call on two 200kW diesel generators at any time.
The solar array powers all appliances, lighting, air conditioning and systems on the island - switching off at dusk, to run only on silent battery power at night. Then, again the next morning, the solar array will switch back on at sunrise to refuel the batteries from the night before and will continue to run the island’s electrical loads - all without interruption, noise or exhaust fumes.
Just like a Prius on a long road trip, the diesel generators are on standby to refuel the batteries should there be extended overcast skies, which can reduce the solar array output.
Under normal operation, the batteries and solar array should be able to supply 90% of all the energy needed by Islas Secas. Every component of the system is monitored and viewable locally and remotely by Islas Secas personnel to ensure uninterrupted generation.
- 1424 PV Modules rated at 355 kW
- 18 Solar Inverters rated at 360kW
- 36 Battery Inverters rated at 288kW
- 2 Diesel Generators rated at 200kW each
- 16 AGM Battery Banks rated at 96kWh each
- Total storage of 1.5 MWhrs, expandable to 3MWhrs
Note: When watching the first video, you can see the results of this design on the runway field. You will notice the shipping container that was repurposed for the storage enclosure which can also be seen in the project photos.
Designed by: Stuart Fox, CivicSolar, Oakland, CA
Engineering by: Robert Seton, Solar Hybrid Design
Construction by: Islas Secas Staff and subcontractors, Ryan Norman, Solar Power Partners
Stuart Fox: Narration and copy | Charlie Saginaw: Video production | Eric Lorenz: Photos | Islas Secas: Aerial Video
The custodians of this pristine location made a decision to do things differently: Instead of the repeated risk and cost of imported fuel oil, they have chosen to rebuild the island infrastructure for maximum efficiency and supply as much of their energy demand as possible with the abundant, local sunlight.
CivicSolar is proud to have played a role in this project - and in the course of designing the energy system and supplying the equipment - to have worked with a talented and dedicated team both on and off the island.
As is apparent - the final product is both inconspicuous and immensely powerful. Designed to compliment the industrial aesthetic of the airstrip and blend into the adjacent jungle as much as possible (if tons of steel, aluminum, and glass can even be described that way…)… When fully operational, the system will generate, store and supply some 500-megawatt hours of electricity per year - without burning a drop of diesel fuel
The most inspirational part of this project? It’s only the beginning.
The next generation will see countless similar examples as homeowners, landowners and municipal governments embrace the beauty and practicality of clean, reliable solar energy - there is no longer a size or cost limitation…