PCI Solar develops solar 1.8-MW project at brownfield site in Wasco, Calif.

PCI Solar

PCI Solar has completed construction of a 1.8-MW solar array for the City of Wasco in California. The project, developed by Siemens, is part of California’s RES-BCT program, which allows a local government with one or more eligible renewable generating facilities to export energy to the grid and receive generation credits to benefitting accounts of the same Local Government. The energy from the array will virtually offset some of the energy from various buildings operated by the City of Wasco.

The project is located on a previous landfill site and is a brownfield development. The 1.8 MW of DC power will be provided by (5346) Silfab 345 watt panels and utilize (27) ABB Trio 50 KW inverters. So as not to disturb the soil, the panels were mounted on a GameChange ballasted racking systems and surrounded by a ballasted protective fence.

— Solar Builder magazine

ABB releases 60-kW TRIO-TM smart solar inverter

ABB TRIO-60-60 kw

The newest addition to ABB’s three-phase, commercial product line is the TRIO-TM-60 with immediate availability. This three maximum power point tracking (MPPT) version features power ratings up to 60 kW and has been designed with enhanced flexibility in mind to maximize the ROI in large systems.

“The TRIO-TM-60 is a robust string inverter able to handle larger design demands as well as size down for the smaller commercial power requirements based on its multiple configurations,” said Mario Thomas, Product Manager at ABB’s solar business in the US. “The modularity, MPPT channels and inde-pendent string allowance offers designers a flexible and reliable solar inverter; while, the user interface offers a wide range of control and application protocols to meet customers’ needs.”

What’s new?

The modularity of this inverter comes with separate DC and AC compartments, which are available in multiple versions for large commercial and small utility designs. The enclosure is NEMA 4X, which re-duces the particles that penetrate the electronic compartments; while, the forced air cooling and field replaceable fans increase the reliability over the lifetime of the inverter.

ABB’s new digital string inverter is ready for next generation smart grid applications and code compliant with Rule 21, and UL1741SA. Its smart capabilities include embedded multi-communication interface (2xEthernet, Wi-Fi and 2x RS-485), and a comprehensive set of control functions enabling full grid sup-port and free remote monitoring. Easy and fast commissioning is verified with an embedded web user interface through any WLAN device.
For more information about the products, services and training please visit www.abb.com/solarinvert-ers

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

ABB adds new predictive maintenance alerts to Electrical Distribution Control System

ABB_Ability

ABB industrial customers will soon be able to receive alerts for predictive maintenance of their facility’s electrical distribution system. ABB is adding new connectivity functions to its ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System that make power assets more reliable and simpler to manage.

Kevin Jordan, U.S. Market Development Manager for ABB Ability Electrical Distribution and Control System, said: “The more people and companies digitize their work and processes, the more important reliable power sources become. This is why ABB’s latest advance in low-voltage power aims to eliminate common causes of preventable disruptions. This new cloud-based software application for air circuit breakers makes predictive maintenance even easier – it’s a unique solution that will save ABB’s industrial customers time and money.”

ABB’s Electrical Distribution Control System is a unique cloud-based tool for electrical power systems that increases operational efficiency and productivity by up to 30 percent, maximizing uptime for key processes. Additionally, using plug-and-play modules that provide sensing and a direct connection to the cloud, ABB’s unique solution is fully scalable, enabling customers with multi-site operations to manage and supervise remote locations from anywhere. Users can allocate energy consumption and costs to specific assets and the ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System helps them optimize power use by receiving data-driven insights and alerts via smartphone, tablet or PC that are easy to act on.

RELATED: Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 2018 edition

“ABB’s digital maintenance manager makes servicing a circuit breaker as smart as servicing modern cars,” continued Jordan. “On-board diagnostics determine how soon the next service event should be by monitoring operating conditions and identifying any emerging maintenance requirements before they become an issue. ABB’s predictive maintenance algorithm takes into account all the factors that could affect the circuit breaker’s performance and durability to help customers take the right preventive actions at the right time.”

ABB servicing experts helped develop the new algorithms that will make maintenance smarter, quicker, and less expensive. This new function will optimize service intervals, replacing routine maintenance with intelligent servicing that matches real-world requirements based on the circuit breaker’s real utilization. Factors include the number of mechanical operations; nominal current, overloads and short circuits; and environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, vibration and corrosion. For mission-critical processes, the cloud-based solution will significantly reduce the risk of unplanned shutdowns. Installations in harsh operating environments will have the clarity needed for effective asset management.

“Simplicity is what makes ABB innovations so powerful,” said Daniel Lightsey, U.S. Technical Manager ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System. “ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System gives you predictive maintenance without an overload of information. Users determine how often to receive updates on the health of key components, in addition to proactive alerts when action is required. A web app answers everything they need to know quickly and intuitively.”

Air circuit breakers are among the most important safety devices in any large building or industrial facility. When a fault occurs, devices such as the Emax 2 air circuit breaker protect people, plants and processes. Servicing is essential – and by giving customers the right information at the right time, this new ABB solution will make facilities better equipped and more productive.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

Data Drivers: Inverter monitoring system trends in the residential market

data monitoring inverters

This is an excerpt from the 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide. Be sure to download the full free report, complete with specs on 136 inverters at the bottom of this page.

Don’t let the hard, boxy exterior fool you — today’s inverters are all about transparency. A key in inverter selection is knowing just how transparent it is: What portals are set up for you and your customer to use? What do they show? And when? Just after it’s failed or maybe just as it sees something’s wrong? How do the alerts work? Can you make adjustments? Will it make its own adjustments?

Basically: How well can you see inside that box?

We asked each inverter manufacturer to share with us how their inverter monitoring system works and what came back was a variety of strategies, from increased flexibility and visibility for the operator and homeowner to innovations in predictive analytics and automated processes. Some come standard, some are subscription-based, but all are slick, boost PV performance and improve your company’s O&M services.

Here are the trends among the manufacturer-provided inverter monitoring systems on the market.

Download the 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

Apps for that

Mobile-friendly platforms are fairly common now, with differences coming in how much data is presented and what remote capabilities are offered.

APsystems provides complimentary module-level monitoring through its cloud-based EMA service for both homeowners and installers. With the EMA app, users can see the energy their system is producing at the panel level, so if the app shows that a particular PV module is underperforming, the owner knows to check for shading issues, debris, damage, etc. The online EMA portal also emails alerts to the installer if a system or unit is operating outside its standard parameters. This is particularly handy when a PV module fails or is somehow disconnected.

Some solar customers invest in a PV system because they want to fully take ownership over their energy bills. They are hands on and want insight into what’s happening and how the system is performing. There are more options than ever for providing this service.

Enphase comes with MyEnlighten for homeowners, which presents system energy production, overall health, historical performance and energy equivalents all on one mobile-friendly display. Real solar enthusiasts can take advantage of a paid upgrade to per-panel monitoring, which is available via the installer who activated the system.
The flipside for the solar installer is the Enphase Enlighten Manager, which provides: fleet management, upgrade management for existing fleets (based on production and consumption data) and simplified repeat-business generation tools to reconnect with existing customers through additional services like battery management, EV charging solutions and system upgrades.

Diagnostics and remote updates

Fronius software updates

The free Solar.web platform from Fronius offers remote diagnostics and alerts such as proactive notifications in a variety of dashboards.

At Fronius, the free Solar.web platform offers remote diagnostics and alerts such as proactive email notifications concerning performance and state codes, as just two examples, to help determine whether a truck roll is necessary or not. Remote Update via Fronius Solar.web eliminates another category of O&M complexity and cost. In just a few clicks, any Fronius SnapINverters is updated remotely from any web-enabled device.

ABB’s Aurora Vision Plant Management Platform and Plant Viewer lets homeowners get a real-time view of how much energy has been harvested along with dashboard views for fleet-wide performance management through reports, diagnostics, analytics or event alerts. ABB inverters also come standard with a wireless connection that enables system monitoring and over-the-air upgrades to ensure units are operating with the latest functions.

Satellite monitoring

Recently, SolarEdge added satellite performance ratio and mismatch reporting to its cloud-based, module-level monitoring platform (free for 25 years). The company says this satellite performance ratio service eliminates the purchasing, installation and O&M of sensors. The mismatch report helps to streamline the process of identifying underperforming modules by comparing each module’s peak power and energy production to the average of all modules in the site, and presenting each module’s mismatch as a percentage above/below the average.

Storage integration

The plus sign in a “solar + storage” system says all you need to know about the monitoring system capabilities — there are more added in.

Magnum Energy provides data monitoring through the MagWeb line of monitoring kits. The MagWeb provides live internet monitoring of the inverter, battery monitor and automatic generator start module. Using an internet connection, MagWeb makes live and historical conditions available through a web browser at data.magnumenergy.com. The MagWeb GT provides an integrated dashboard of the MicroGT system engineered for PV + storage systems. With the MagWeb GT, the production data from the array and the battery bank status of the storage system are accessed via your local network from one simple dashboard.

Tabuchi provides data monitoring via the Tabuchi Cloud. Here, customers can monitor PV generation, household consumption, the amount of power bought and sold to and from the grid and the battery charge. It also allows customers to compare data hourly, daily, monthly and yearly. The service is included with purchase of the Eco Intelligent Battery System (EIBS). Tabuchi Cloud allows installers to make sure everything is working as intended, while the simple interface allows homeowners to quickly see how they are saving on energy costs.

Automation

The next evolution in system monitoring is taking all of this data and having the system apply its own fixes. Pika Energy‘s REview Dashboard is provided to the customer with every Pika system to view performance metrics in comprehensive real-time reports, but its biggest advances come from system automation. While some inverters may notify users that grid or environmental conditions have changed, the Pika Energy Island acts automatically to meet these new conditions. When peak rate periods set in, local demand spikes or the grid goes down, the Pika Energy Island manages energy flows to keep system owners powered up and saving money.

SMA’s latest development in monitoring and alerts is SMA Smart Connected. Now available with the Sunny Boy-US residential line of inverters, SMA Smart Connected is a proactive service package integrated into Sunny Portal that automatically detects and evaluates system events and initiates remediation or repair activities. This decreases truck rolls, lengthy service calls and system downtime. Once it is operating, SMA Smart Connected will actively monitor a residential system at all times through Sunny Portal’s intelligent monitoring technology.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

ABB offers new code compliant inverters for residential solar installers

ABB Tigo

Following the new SunSpec communication protocol, ABB offers a unique configuration that ensures design flexibility and compliance with 2014 & 2017 NEC 690.12 requirements. The robust energy production of a single-phase string inverter, the rapid shutdown function and an optimizer option provides installers a stronger solution to code compliant solar installations.

“Finding inverters that can perform under the demands of challenging roof configurations and comply with the latest code requirements can be difficult,” said Mario Thomas, string inverter product manager, ABB’s Solar business in the US. “With these new code compliant options from ABB, installers have more options to choose from.”

The UNO-DM-PLUS-US family of single phase solar inverters deliver high performance with excellent power density giving end users the maximum amount of energy production. This flexible inverter comes with embedded connectivity and an efficient communication protocol, which enables the UNO-DMPLUS-US to be easily integrated within any current or future device for smart building automation, smart grid integration and with third party monitoring and control systems. The UNO-DM-PLUS-US also comes with remote Over-the-Air (OTA) firmware upgrade for inverter and components to enable remote software upgrades.

For jurisdictions that have not migrated to 2017 NEC 690.12, ABB’s string-level Rapid Shutdown 2.0 device provides a simple and cost-effective solution to implement. This product mounts directly to the PV mounting rail or PV module, and lay parallel to the roofing surface. It provides a fail-safe solution for emergency responders. Available in two configurations (single and dual), this rapid shutdown device requires no extra conduit, which minimizes additional material cost and associated labor. Shutdown occurs at the rooftop box when the utility power is lost or when the PV system’s AC disconnect switch is opened.

RELATED: Rapid Shutdown and Beyond: Inside NEC 2017 and the effort to streamline PV design

Tigo partnership

In conjunction, ABB and Tigo formed an operational compatibility between ABB’s inverter line UNO-DM-PLUS and Tigo’s TS4 optimizer platform. The combined ABB and Tigo module solution is now available. Combining ABB’s world-class inverters with Tigo’s TS4 Platform offers a flexible and scalable solution to meet all the different needs of installers and end customers. The connectivity package of the UNO-DM-PLUS allows for built-in smart grid capabilities such as dynamic feed-in control, which manages the energy fed into the grid, and uses SunSpec-compatible open communication protocols to ensure compliance with future grid codes and maintain off-the-shelf interoperability with other devices in the system.

Advantages of this system

The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified third-party solutions offer Rapid Shutdown and optional MLPE configuration with string inverter power generation as well as the following advantages:

• Module-level Monitoring – Predicting and conducting maintenance on solar installations is critical to ensure that they last beyond their expected 25-year lifetime. With full visibility of a system’s performance through module-level monitoring in 2 -second increments, solar fleets can maximize system up-time, identify performance issues, and control operations and maintenance (O&M) costs.

• Safety – The UL-certified module-level Rapid Shutdown Solutions provide installers, EPCs, and PV plant owners the most cost-effective response to safety regulations like the National Electric Code (NEC) 2014 & 2017 requirements. For installations unencumbered by shading, the MLPE option provides the necessary safety and monitoring services to ensure systems meet local fire regulations and performance expectations.

• Optimization of Energy Harvest – With optimized modules, more roof space can be used to max-imize energy production. This fixes module mismatch and increases design flexibility by optimiz-ing each module when shade drops their performance. It addresses system-level inefficiencies and age tolerance while also benefiting from the module-level monitoring and safety features.

Once the inverter is installed, operators can turn to a smartphone to commission the unit via a simple, built-in web user interface. This enables them to gain access to features such as advanced inverter con-figuration settings and Aurora Manager, which facilitates OTA firmware updates (remote software up-dates).

— Solar Builder magazine