MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough Hospital will soon have the capability to store energy drawn from solar panels in the Union Street facility’s parking lot.
The hospital – part of the UMass Memorial family – was one of 26 organizations to receive $20 million in energy storage grants for projects state officials characterized as game changers for energy innovation. Gov. Charlie Baker implemented the Energy Storage Initiative in 2015, which is aimed at supporting energy storage companies and accelerating the development and market for storage technologies.
“This is a long time coming for us,” said Matthew Beaton, secretary of energy and environmental affairs. ”…It really is a technology that has amazing promise.”
Baker and several state officials presented the grants during a ceremony at Marlborough Hospital Thursday. Energy storage technologies – such as zinc iron flow batteries – allow energy produced from solar panels and wind turbines during off peak hours when it less expensive to be captured and used during peak hours when it costs more to produce.
“There were times in the past few years where we have been paying the highest price in the world for our energy,” said Baker. “This could really be a big win. …It’s a tremendously powerful tool.”
The hospital will use the $685,595 grant to connect battery packs to ground-mounted solar panels to store energy produced during off peak hours and discharge it during the day when it is more expensive, said Eric Petersen, director of facilities.
The battery packs will be able to store about 4-6 hours of energy, said Petersen.
The new technology will save money and reduce greenhouse gases. i
“On behalf of UMass Memorial Health Care and Marlborough Hospital we are appreciative of the Baker administration’s support of initiatives that promote and ensure safe, resilient and reliable energy infrastructure,” Steve Roche, president and CEO of UMass-Memorial Marlborough Hospital, said in a statement. “We all must continue to look at ways to reduce greenhouse gas, cut energy costs and provide a cleaner healthy environment for our community.”
Marlborough Hospital was the only MetroWest or Milford-area organization to be awarded funding.
The program was initially only supposed to award $10 million, but the amount was increased because of the quality of the applications received, said Steve Pike, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Nearly 70 organizations sought funding.
The 26 projects funded in the grant cycle include 14 different business models that could unlock potential storage initiatives, said Pike.
“These projects represent a substantial step forward for the emerging energy storage sector in Massachusetts,” said Pike. “The Commonwealth’s leadership in developing this industry will allow renewable energy sources to be harnessed to their full potential and increase the resiliency of the electrical grid.”
UMass Amherst received $1.14 million for a lithium ion battery storage system that will double as a learning tool for students. Tesla received slightly more than $1 million to deploy a storage system at the Wynn Boston Harbor Resort.
“Storage is what’s going to allow us to transition from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy,” said state Rep. Carmine Gentile, D-Sudbury.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.