SEI Professional Services (SEIPS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have been working together for the past couple years on operations, maintenance and system improvements for a PV micro-grid located on the Palmyra Atoll. We had a chance to catch up with Chad Livingston, Palmyra Sustainability Director, to talk about the project.

SEIPS: 
Thanks for talking with us today to talk about this project.

Chad:
Thanks for having me.  It has been great working with SEI Professional Services on this project and we love to talk about our sustainability efforts.

SEIPS: 
So tell us about this project and how we got to where we are today.

Chad:
I think it is important to start off by giving some background of who we are and what we do here. The Nature Conservancy and Palmyra Atoll: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a leading conservation organization working globally to protect ecologically important lands and waters for people and nature. Located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, Palmyra Atoll is one of the most spectacular marine wilderness areas on Earth. Palmyra Atoll has 580 acres of emergent land with 480,000 acres of lagoons, coral reefs, and submerged lands and is a US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge out to 12 miles offshore and a Marine National Monument out to 50 miles. The Nature Conservancy owns 230 acres of land and manages this property as the Palmyra Atoll Preserve in partnership with the USFWS. TNC owns and operates a research station on the preserve.

In June of 2015, TNC and the USFWS worked together to install a 98 kW array supported by three battery banks and two backup generators. However, after one year of operation the station began experiencing occasional blackouts, and the system wasn’t performing as we had hoped. This is when we began searching for a professional solution.

We entered into a contract with SEIPS and then scheduled a series of deep dives into the design and current operation of the system. SEIPS worked closely with us to reprogram the battery inverters to function optimally with our specific batteries. This work culminated in a several day trip down to Palmyra where SEIPS completed an inspection of our system and conducted tasks associated with annual maintenance. They also identified areas for future improvement. They recently returned from a second trip down to Palmyra to again complete annual maintenance and to continue work on several habitual faults within the system.

SEIPS:
It really has been a great partnership working on this project with TNC. We are especially pleased that the efforts of our team resulted in significant reduction in generator run time and diesel fuel usage. We look forward to continuing our work to seeing this system operate at maximum efficiency. We get a lot of calls and inquiries from solar project developers from all over the world who have heard about SEIPS and our expertise in the field, but how did TNC hear about us and decide to choose us as a technical service partner?

Chad:
I investigated various options, and several players in the PV field, and consistently returned to Solar Energy International (SEI) and SEI Professional Services (SEIPS) as an organization with a good reputation, and trustworthy reputation. I felt that there were a lot of organizations most interested in making money. SEIPS presented themselves as most interested in the success of the project and in doing the right thing. SEIPS has been great. They lived up to their reputation of professionalism and expertise.

SEIPS:
Thanks again Chad for talking with us about this amazing project.

Chad:
Thanks for having me. We look forward to working with SEIPS in the future.