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Contact Lens Manufacturer Focuses on Solar Power to Safeguard Production During Extreme Weather Events

MILPITAS, Calif. 4th January 2024 – Staar Surgical, a leading manufacturer of implantable lenses used in ophthalmic surgery, has inaugurated a 1.1MW grid-tied microgrid on its production facility in Lake Forest, California. Now operational, the system was installed to meet three important goals: reduce energy costs, improve sustainability, and, most importantly of all, safeguard production in the event of grid outages caused by extreme weather events.

The microgrid is powered by a 780kW SolarEdge DC-optimized inverter solar system located on the facility’s roof and two newly-constructed carports. The 1752-module system is expected to cut Staar Surgical’s energy costs by approximately 50%, representing an annual saving of around $325,000. However, this figure could be a drop in the ocean compared to the savings that could potentially be achieved by preventing spoiled production runs.

Jay Cutting, Snr., President of building and solar contractor, ReVamp Energy, which designed, installed and will maintain the microgrid, explains: “Manufacturing contact lenses is a highly energy-intensive process that requires each lens to be heated in an industrial kiln continuously for several days. Any reduction in power of more than a few seconds has the potential to ruin an entire production run, leading to losses of potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars. The increasing frequency of red flag weather events in California necessitated that Staar Surgical address the mission-critical challenge of identifying a cost-effective and sustainable method to safeguard production.”

Excess solar energy produced during the day will be stored in a 450kW battery to power the site’s 24/7 production lines and provide essential backup in the event of power outages. The battery is expected to provide between eight and 24 hours of back-up power, dependent upon the manufacturing facility’s load requirements. In the rare event that an outage lasts even longer, the system also includes a generator, giving Staar Surgical the ability to maintain production.

To ensure seamless operation, ReVamp Energy designed custom-made switchgear that will automatically switch the site’s energy supply to back-up power in the event of a power outage. For added convenience, the microgrid is manageable via the SolarEdge monitoring platform. This will enable Staar Surgical and ReVamp Energy to track a variety of key parameters such as solar energy production, consumption and battery energy levels in real-time and from a single platform.

Cutting, Snr. comments: “We have worked with Staar Surgical on several solar installations and for each one we have used SolarEdge technology – it is a key component of realising the client’s requirement for high energy production, reliability, and intelligent control. This starts with the use of Power Optimizers to pull more power from the solar arrays, and extends through to the generation of highly-granular performance data that will enable us to operate and maintain not just the solar installation, but the entire microgrid, in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.”