Staar Surgical, a manufacturer of implantable lenses used in ophthalmic surgery, has inaugurated a 1.1-MW grid-tied microgrid on its production facility in Lake Forest, California. Now operational, the system was installed to meet three goals: Reduce energy costs, improve sustainability and safeguard production in the event of grid outages caused by extreme weather events.
The microgrid is powered by a 780-kW solar system with a SolarEdge DC-optimized inverter located on the facility’s roof and two newly-constructed carports. The 1,752-module system is expected to cut Staar Surgical’s energy costs by approximately 50%, representing an annual saving of around $325,000.
“Manufacturing contact lenses is a highly energy-intensive process that requires each lens to be heated in an industrial kiln continuously for several days,” said Jay Cutting, Snr., president of building and solar contractor, ReVamp Energy, which designed, installed and will maintain the microgrid. “Any reduction in power of more than a few seconds has the potential to ruin an entire production run, leading to losses of potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars. The increasing frequency of red flag weather events in California necessitated that Staar Surgical address the mission-critical challenge of identifying a cost-effective and sustainable method to safeguard production.”
Excess solar energy produced during the day will be stored in a 450-kW battery to power the site’s 24/7 production lines and provide essential backup in the event of power outages. The battery is expected to provide between eight to 24 hours of back-up power, dependent upon the manufacturing facility’s load requirements. If the power outage lasts even longer, the system also includes a generator, giving Staar Surgical the ability to maintain production.
To ensure seamless operation, ReVamp Energy designed custom-made switchgear that will automatically switch the site’s energy supply to back-up power in the event of a power outage. The microgrid is manageable via the SolarEdge monitoring platform. This will enable Staar Surgical and ReVamp Energy to track a variety of key parameters such as solar energy production, consumption and battery energy levels in real-time and from a single platform.
“We have worked with Staar Surgical on several solar installations and for each one we have used SolarEdge technology — it is a key component of realising the client’s requirement for high energy production, reliability and intelligent control,” Cutting said. “This starts with the use of Power Optimizers to pull more power from the solar arrays and extends through to the generation of highly-granular performance data that will enable us to operate and maintain not just the solar installation, but the entire microgrid, in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.”
News item from SolarEdge