UniEnergy, Powerit partner on energy solution for California's Mission Produce

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Electrical demand management company Powerit Solutions and energy storage provider UniEnergy Technologies (UET) are teaming up to provide a 500 kW/2 MWh UET Uni.System advanced vanadium redox flow battery to Mission Produce, a global importer, processor and exporter of avocados.

The companies will install the system at Mission Produce’s site in Oxnard, California, at the end of the year. The Uni.System will be integrated with Powerit’s cloud-based demand management software platform, Spara Hub, which is already in place at Mission Produce.

Through the collaboration, UET and Powerit anticipate a broader alliance with Mission Produce and follow-on projects at other Mission Produce facilities in the United States and abroad. “There is also opportunity to offer the combined solutions to the sizeable and growing market for micro-grids and distributed energy resources on the customer side of the utility meter,” the companies added.

The storage-as-a-service solution, with solar and demand management software integrated into a commercial/industrial micro-grid, will help manage energy consuming, producing or storage devices for Mission Produce. According to UET and Powerit, the highly-integrated system, using the same storage technology employed in nearly 5 MW/15 MWh of UET systems already deployed or ordered, will save energy costs and provide resiliency and energy security for the agricultural produce company.

Mission Produce has been installing Powerit’s energy demand management technology since 2008. Powerit now helps the produce company manage a load of approximately 8,300 kW, which in turn has helped Mission Produce save more than $2 million in electricity cost.

The UET agreement with Mission Produce marks the first deployment of its systems in California. Until now it has focused on commercial, industrial (C&I) and utility applications in the state of Washington and in Europe.

UET President and CEO Gary Yang said, "We believe this deployment will further prove the value of our new-generation vanadium flow battery to C&I customers. This is a flagship introduction of a flow battery into this segment of the storage market, and it will provide Mission Produce with increased peak demand reduction, the ability to arbitrage energy pricing and the ability to island their site in case of grid failure."

With a 1 MW PV installation, 2 MWh battery and a micro-grid control system with sophisticated load control, “Mission Produce is very much in command of its energy future,” the companies said. It will be able to run mostly off solar power during peak hours and absorb spikes in energy use through load management and battery discharging. In addition, it can use its battery to charge both in times of excess solar and off-peak and discharge when solar generation lessens and/or during peak demand.

Jake Nixon, VP of Engineering and Process Improvement at Mission Produce, said, “The unlimited cyclability and no capacity fade of the Uni.System makes it a valuable asset in a facility micro-grid because there aren’t battery life and capacity concerns with frequent charge and discharge cycles. We’re extremely excited about this technology, which will help drive our business even further ahead."

Pointing out that Powerit had so far deployed 200 North American C&I installations, company CEO Kevin Klustner said Powerit had “a proven energy automation system that can cost-effectively orchestrate all of these different elements for the benefit of both customer economics and grid stability. And, because we’ve gotten enough recent in-bound interest in our system for C&I micro-grids, we’ve decided to pursue the design of a standardized configuration offering interested customers and channel partners ‘micro-grid management in a box.’ Approaches to micro-grids in general, and facility micro-grids in specific, are all over the map, so this will allow us to establish a standard offering for customers and utilities."