Sunday, 8 April 2012

Next Generation Solar PV

There has been increasing discussion in our industry of late about the latest emerging technologies that will be the next boon to the renewables industry globally, but especially so in Australia with most states dropping any reasonable Solar Feed In Tariffs.
There are many terms to describe this approach to renewables, but my favourite is "Distributed Storage" which obviously goes hand in hand with "Distributed Generation".
With the current business model for energy utilities in Australia of "sell more energy to make more money" and our policy makers so obviously biased towards the "Fossil Fuel" lobby, it is becoming more important for energy consumers to leave the grid behind (well, as best they can).
This range of inverters allows the flexibility to tie together Solar PV, Batteries & the grid. This technology is not new, I was using them for my first "Grid Connected Solar PV Systems" back in the mid 1990's, the difference now is that advancements in digital capability has granted us fantastic control and programmability.
As a Solar Developer we are now able to offer our customers the option of applying "Photovoltaic Modules" and connecting them to an "Inverter" as well as "The Grid" and a "Battery Bank". The programmability of the Inverter allows us to "prioritise" the flow of energy that is generated by the Solar PV.
The highest priority is to supply the sites' consumption at the time of generation known as "Self Use".
The next priority is to funnel the solar energy into the batteries for use either during times of "Peak Tariff" or "Grid Failure".
Finally, and only if you chose to, you can feed excess solar energy into the grid, and if you are lucky you will be paid a fair & reasonable "Feed in Tariff" (most Australian energy retailers will only pay a pittance if anything at all).
I have been looking at three different products that have the potential to answer the prayers of many of my existing and potential clients. Those are:

  1. The "PowerRouter" from Nedap in the Netherlands & distributed in Australia by Setec in Melbourne has quite a few variations and some great capabilities and support, but currently limited to small to medium sized installations and single phase. Well worth keeping an eye on this product, especially if we can add to their R & D wish list.
  2. SMA offers the "Sunny Backup" system. Definitely some robust German engineering with great pedigree. Currently comes in small, medium & large with 3 phase capability.
  3. Selectronic, an Australian company has available the SP Pro Series, Selectronic also has a "Battery pack" that can be perfect for this application.
These three manufactures, in my opinion will see some remarkable growth in the sales of their range of smart energy management inverters through the remainder of 2012. 

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