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Xcel Energy and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company Announce Carbon-Neutral Energy Project with National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Partners Going Beyond Net-Zero Energy at Peña Station NEXT Smart City Development in Denver

Xcel Energy and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company (Panasonic) today announce a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Denver International Airport (DEN), and LC Fulenwider, Inc., to study the potential implementation of a carbon-neutral energy district master plan for Peña Station NEXT (Peña) in Denver, Colorado. LC Fulenwider, Inc. is the master real estate developer for the mixed-use community.

Peña is a planned 382-acre, transit-oriented smart city development that will also serve as a living lab and proving ground for smart and sustainable technology innovation and infrastructure. Unlike net-zero energy buildings and districts, which typically produce enough on-site renewable energy to fully offset their electricity consumption annually, Peña’s carbon-neutral initiative will seek to go further, by leveraging a to-be-determined suite of on-site renewable energy generation, energy storage, demand flexibility, and potentially carbon sequestration and/or carbon credits, to fully offset the district’s climate impact due to electricity generation and consumption.

“The effort squarely aligns with Xcel Energy’s clean energy strategy, which to date has decreased carbon emissions 30% since 2005 levels across its service territory, with plans to reach a 45% reduction by 2021,” said David Eves, president of Xcel Energy – Colorado. “The carbon-neutral district project also aligns with Xcel Energy’s ‘Our Energy Future’ comprehensive strategy, which centers on three key elements: customer choice, economic development, and technological energy innovations. Across these categories, the company is proactively listening to our customers and creating new programs to address their energy needs and desires.”

Earlier this year, Xcel Energy and Panasonic energized a solar+storage microgrid at Peña in partnership with Denver International Airport and LC Fulenwider, Inc. The award-winning microgrid project includes a 1.6 MWdc carport solar photovoltaic (PV) system, a 259 kWdc rooftop solar PV system, a 1 MW/2 MWh battery energy storage system, and Panasonic’s Technology & Business Solutions Center, which serves as the anchor electricity load.

Collectively, the microgrid assets make Peña net-positive energy for the foreseeable future, until more of the development is built out, thus consuming more of the on-site solar generation. But they don’t yet make Peña carbon neutral, since the development exports surplus solar generation during the day and consumes more-carbon-intensive electricity from the grid at night. The carbon-neutral project with NREL pushes the envelope to close that gap.

The carbon-neutral effort is likewise a natural fit for Panasonic CityNOW, the company’s North American smart city initiative. Matthew Crosby, utility solutions program manager for CityNOW, added: “We focus on partnering with cities, utilities, and real estate developers to offer integrated energy solutions that unlock transformative renewable and efficiency projects at district scale. The carbon-neutral project at Peña is taking the solar+storage microgrid to the next level and innovating in the truest sense of the word. We’re proud to roll up our sleeves alongside Xcel Energy, NREL, DEN, and LC Fulenwider to do something truly groundbreaking. Ultimately, understanding not only the technological solutions but also compatible business models will help these efforts to scale across the country.”

CityNOW’s solution pillars include Smart Energy and Smart Buildings, with a focus on clean, resilient, integrated energy solutions delivered through a combination of energy and sustainability analysis and master planning, solar PV, battery energy storage, demand-side management, and other strategies. With the Panasonic CityNOW team based out of the company’s operations hub at Peña, and with Peña a global showcase for Panasonic’s smart city initiatives, the carbon-neutral effort complements comprehensive smart city solutions at Peña that—in addition to the microgrid—include electric vehicle charging; a smart streets network that integrates connected LED street lights, environmental sensing, community WiFi, public safety, and smart parking; and an on-street deployment of V2X technology.

The carbon-neutral project continues at Peña a strong theme of public-private partnership and collaboration among stakeholders, this time with NREL at the table. NREL is leveraging its URBANopt software, a buildings and district energy systems modeling tool, to analyze the dynamic energy consumption of corporate office space, retail space, multifamily dwellings, a hotel, parking, and street lighting, and feed that analysis into Xcel Energy’s distribution grid modeling. Such analytical efforts will pair with NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), a one-of-a-kind testing laboratory that connects appliances, a home, and even a community in an end-to-end energy ecosystem that incorporates power generation, energy storage, and dynamic end loads, so that researchers can simulate real-world conditions in a controlled laboratory environment.

“The NREL partnership with Panasonic and Xcel Energy helps deliver on our shared vision for clean, affordable, and reliable energy systems at a pace and scale that matters for our society,” said Juan Torres, NREL’s associate laboratory director for energy systems integration. “As a national user facility, the Energy Systems Integration Facility at NREL is an ideal place for both Panasonic and Xcel to analyze and optimize the project’s energy master plan before construction, in a way that benefits all involved.” 

The partners are confident the carbon-neutral project holds great promise, not only for Peña and its future residents, tenants, businesses, etc., but also beyond Peña’s borders. Xcel Energy will consider owning and operating the necessary infrastructure to achieve carbon neutrality, potentially expanding the offering to future carbon-neutral communities in Colorado. Panasonic is similarly interested in how it might replicate and scale carbon-neutral districts and developments across its other current and future smart city engagements through Panasonic CityNOW. And as NREL strengthens its industry partnerships, the lab may apply its net-zero-energy campus expertise to other opportunities.

The concept of Pena Next aligns with the Energy Department’s goal to enhance the nation’s security and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. From Oct. 5–15, the new development will be the site of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition where 12 collegiate teams from around the world will test how well they did in building solar houses featuring the latest in energy-efficient design, smart home solutions, water conservation measures, electric vehicles, and sustainable buildings.

About Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company
Denver-based Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company includes CityNOW, Panasonic’s North American smart city initiative, and the Energy Solutions Group, which focuses on large-scale solar PV project development and integrated energy solutions for telecom. Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company is a wholly-owned business unit of Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America, a leading technology partner and integrator to businesses, government agencies, and consumers across the region. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service, and R&D operations. Panasonic was featured in Fortune Magazine’s 2016 ranking of 50 companies that are changing the world and doing well by doing good. Specifically cited were its smart and sustainable technologies, including its contributions to smart cities and the electric vehicle revolution. Learn more about Panasonic’s ideas and innovations at www.PanasonicMovesUs.com.

About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contacts
Christina Atkinson
G&S Communications for Panasonic
catkinson@gscommunications.com
212.697.2600 x1209

Michelle Aguayo
Xcel Energy
michelle.aguayo@xcelenergy.com
303.294.2300

Heather Lammers
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
heather.lammers@nrel.gov
303.275.4084