Largest Microgrid in Central America Provides Critical Power Backup

costa rica microgrid

Solar power brings Costa Rica closer to its carbon-neutral goal

Demand Energy and Rio Grande Renewables have commissioned a battery storage-plus-solar-PV microgrid at Establishment Labs S.A., a medical manufacturing plant in Costa Rica. The system provides multiple on-site and grid-assisting services, including peak demand reduction, solar PV “shaping” to smooth out variability, and backup power for critical loads in the event of an outage.

The microgrid, which is the largest in Central America, includes a 500-kW/1 MWh lithium-ion battery storage resource connected to 276 kW of solar PV. It is controlled by Demand Energy’s Distributed Energy Network Operating System (DEN.OS), which optimizes how these resources interact and perform. Under normal conditions the system will smoothly integrate intermittent solar PV for on-site self-consumption. When an outage occurs, the microgrid will “island” itself off from the grid and continue operating in standalone mode.

“Like most sensitive manufacturing and laboratory operations, the Establishment Labs facility must receive a continuous flow of quality power,” says Demand Energy Vice President of Operations Shane Johnson. “This DEN.OS-controlled intelligent microgrid offers a rapid payback thanks to significant savings from peak power reduction, and it will deliver instantaneous backup power to support clean room operations when needed — preventing production losses during outages. The system eliminates the stranded costs of traditional diesel generators while offering a healthy return on investment through optimizing renewable solar generation, which drives a reduction in GHG emissions that supports Costa Rica’s goal to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country.”

Adds Rio Grande Renewables President Brian J. Schmidly: “This new generation of microgrid technologies is a game-changer in the region. They are not only cleaner than traditional grid electricity and diesel generators, but they’re also more affordable now than in previous years. We expect to see demand for microgrids grow as customer awareness increases and the benefits are clearly demonstrated. We applaud early adopters like Establishment Labs for taking a leadership position on environmentally responsible manufacturing and for being the first in the region to deploy this type of climate-friendly technology to help save money and compete internationally.”