Capstone Project: “Cheat Sheet” for interconnection for solar and wind market participants

Lightsource BP sponsored a capstone design project through Penn State’s Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory. The Learning Factory facilitates University-Industry partnerships, where students design real-world projects that benefit industry sponsors who interact with students and faculty to help them create world-class engineers and make a significant difference in engineering education at Penn State.

The capstone project that Lightsource BP sponsored was for two teams of students to create a guide to help market participants interconnect solar or wind power generation systems to the electric grid. The project specifically targeted Pennsylvania, a deregulated state with several utilities that have different interconnection rules. An interactive Microsoft Excel guide was created to help wind and solar developers through the grid interconnection process. The guide identified various local, state, and federal grid requirements, along with the required fees based on the geographic location of the generator project.

The guide simplified the interconnection process by summarizing the grid requirements and utility expectations during the initial phases of their project planning. The final deliverable prompts users to input the county the generator project will be in, select the utility company (if multiple) they are connecting to, and provide the corresponding technical requirements and specifications.

During the Spring 2020 semester, Lightsource BP team members from Engineering and Development met with both teams of Penn State students on a weekly basis. The purpose of each meeting was to provide the students feedback on their progress and ensure they were on track to meet their objective. Students provided Lightsource BP a written weekly report summarizing their current achievements and providing a work plan for the upcoming week. The project began by having each team design a large-scale solar generating facility. This gave the students a baseline in understanding what type of details go into connecting a project to the grid. The students spent many hours researching utility requirements and were able to compile them into a modifiable user-friendly Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. By the end of the semester, the students were able to deliver an interactive interconnection guide which can be used by Lightsource BP in evaluating potential sites in Pennsylvania.

All Showcase Projects: httpsss://sites.psu.edu/learningfactoryshowcase/

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