Princeton Power Systems, the Princeton Pike-based energy management technology company, has an idea for averting power outages: giant batteries.
One might think that a building equipped with solar panels would be able to stay online during a power outage, but that’s not the case. Most older solar power systems don’t work when the grid goes down. The reason is that solar panels are designed to send power back into the power lines when they are producing more power than the building they are attached to requires — normally, the panels’ owner receives a credit for selling power back to the power company like this. However, this arrangement is something of a double-edged sword.
When the power is down, the utility will send workers to repair the fault. To avoid zapping workers with unexpected electricity during those times, solar panel systems are designed to stop working when they are not receiving electricity from the grid.
Many institutions where power is critical, such as hospitals and police stations, have diesel generators on standby for when the grid goes down. But Princeton Power Systems has created a system that uses batteries instead. According to the company, its system could have kept the lights on during events such as the December snowstorms that killed power in places. Princeton Power Systems says battery storage of energy can be smaller and more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel generators.
The company is hosting a meeting on storm resiliency Thursday, March 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Windsor Athletic Club at 99 Clarksville Road, West Windsor. The company was supposed to participate in a community meeting on storm resiliency January 27, but it was canceled because of the snow storm.
Several experts will share their knowledge on a panel moderated by Robert D. Prunetti of the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce. The panel will include Darren Hammell of Princeton Power Systems, Andrew Powers of PSE&G, Ted Borer of Princeton University, and Thomas Walker of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
“North America’s infrastructure is aging and frail. So even small disturbances to the system can lead to power failure,” said Hammell, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Princeton Power Systems, which designs and manufactures state-of-the-art power electronics used in advanced battery operations and alternative energy.
Princeton Power Systems itself uses a bank of backup batteries at its main office that can keep its servers online for up to eight hours during blackouts.
The system represents a smaller version of the kind of technology that Princeton Power Systems has installed at many other sites in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Now Princeton Power Systems is working to bring a similar system — at no cost — to the West Windsor Municipal Complex.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our own community to reap the benefits of the kind of state-of-the-art solar plus battery storage that we’ve brought to so many other parts of the world,” Hammell said.