Alencon Systems updated its DC-DC optimizer for large-scale solar — here’s what’s improved

Alencon SPOT

Alencon Systems LLC is unveiling the latest generation of its DC-DC optimizer, the SPOT-ES V5, at the Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) Annual Conference, April 18 – 20 in Boston. The newest generation of the SPOT-ES features several exciting features and enhancements specifically targeted at achieving more cost effective and reliable DC-coupled Solar + Storage and Microgrid projects.

The Alencon SPOT – which stands for String Power Optimizer and Transmitter – is a string level DC-DC optimizer which optimizes the power from four PV string inputs with voltages ranging from 600 to 1500 volts. The SPOT outputs power through two outputs at any range of voltage that is completely configurable from one deployment to the next. The ES suffix designates “Energy Storage.” The SPOT-ES family of products has been specifically designed for the needs of DC-coupled Solar + Storage deployments.

The improvements in the SPOT-ES V5 are vast from previous generations of the SPOT family of products. The enhancements include a true 1500-volt input based on 1700 volt rated Silicon Carbide (SiC) rated mosfets, a unique ability to map a wide battery charge/discharge voltage range, reliability enhancements developed in concert with leading Solar + Storage technology providers and integrators as well as more flexible communications options for more better integration with Solar + Storage and Microgrid control systems.

RELATED: How to optimize performance and profit through O&M monitoring 

Higher Input Voltage

The SPOT-ES V5 is the first utility scale PV DC-DC optimizer capable of supporting true 1500-volt string input. The SPOT-ES 1500 can accept four 1500-volt string inputs and provides the two outputs. Two outputs have been provided to allow for the use of standard rated PV connectors at high power and current. The SPOT-ES 1500 can achieve higher voltage input because it is based on state-of-the-art 1700 volt rated Silicon Carbide (SiC) mosfets.

Wide Voltage Control Range

The SPOT-ES V5 takes advantage of Alencon’s patented galvanically isolated design. The SPOT-ES’s galvanic isolation concept completely isolates the PV input from the output by attaching isolation transformers to each PV input. This technique provides for a particularly unique benefit in the DC-coupling of Solar + Storage because the integral magnetics to the SPOT can be easily configured from one deployment to another to easily support a broad battery charge/discharge DC-bus voltage, where the voltage range could vary by as much 20% from complete discharge to full charge. This feature provides a significant benefit when connecting lower voltage batteries to 1500-volt PV systems.
Enhanced Solar + Storage Reliability Features

The SPOT-ES V5 includes a new, ultra-fast circuit to protect the SPOT from sudden system power output overloads. Such overloads can happen with greater frequency in DC-coupled Solar + Storage and Microgrids than traditional PV installations due to the increased complexity of such systems. The result of such occurrences can have very grave consequences to the entire system and hence the SPOT’s ability to better protect itself in such events offers a great deal of additional reliability.

Improved Communications Architecture

Communications between major components in Solar + Storage systems and Microgrids is critical. Such systems typically utilize master system controllers that directly interface with all components in the system including the battery, inverter and of course the SPOTs. The SPOT-ES V5 features enhanced communications features to allow it to be interfaced with third party system controllers via either Modbus TCP, for communicating to the SPOTs wirelessly, or Modbus RTU, which allows for hardwire communication to each SPOT directly. The enhanced communication functionality offered in the SPOT-ES V5 allows for unprecedentedly granular control over the PV including the ability to curtail production at the string level.

— Solar Builder magazine

Check out this DC-coupled commercial solar+storage microgrid from ARDA Power

ARDA Power says it will be incorporating Alencon’s DC-DC Optimizer – the SPOT – into its  DC-coupled microgrid system which includes Solar + Storage. Here’s a look at how that’s going to work.

arda_alencon

ARDA has pioneered the market for microgrids, offering a unique DC-connected microgrid solution which brings the benefits of a microgrid – including resiliency and increased use of renewables – to commercial and industrial buildings without the requirement for complex custom engineering or costly interconnect applications.

In the ARDA system, the Alencon SPOT will serve to enable the DC-coupling of solar to the ARDA microgrid, will perform maximum power point tracking (MPPT) on the PV strings, and will curtail output based on commands from ARDA’s microgrid controls. The Alencon SPOT, which creates galvanic isolation between the PV and battery DC bus, will allow ARDA’s systems to be even easier to install and safer to operate. The Alencon SPOT is the only large scale, PV DC-DC optimizer on the market today that offers galvanic isolation between the PV array and a DC bus.

“The ability the Alencon SPOT offers ARDA to isolate a potentially troublesome PV string while the rest of the solar plus storage system continues to operate is a huge benefit. Galvanic isolation of solar from the rest of the system simplifies the fundamental protection approach on a system level. Since our system is battery centric, we always have a battery on the DC bus, meaning that the fault issues that arise from the PV, if not protected against, can be more severe when high battery currents are taken into account,” states Aleksey Toporkov, the President of ARDA Power. “Alencon’s SPOT protects against such eventualities, giving our users the assurance that their system will harness and store the most possible PV power while operating with both maximum up-time and highest degree of safety.”

Alencon Systems updates its large-scale solar DC-DC optimizer

— Solar Builder magazine

Alencon Systems updates its large-scale solar DC-DC optimizer

Alencon Systems LLC is debuting latest generation of its DC-DC optimizer, the SPOT, at Solar Power International 2017, Sept. 10 – 13, 2017 in Las Vegas in booth #1115. Alencon’s SPOT X2 has been specifically targeted at two, in demand PV applications: PV retrofits and DC-coupled Solar + Storage.

alencon solar optimizer

SPOT X2 improvements

  • The SPOT X2 is lighter and easier to install than previous models, while at the same time offering more power and higher efficiency than ever before.
  • The SPOT X2 features significantly improved on-board firmware to ensure greater energy yield. Headlining the software improvements in the SPOTX2 is an improved maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm that assures optimal PV power harvesting under fast changing weather conditions.
  • The SPOT X2 takes its name from the improved printed circuit board (PCB) design of this newest version, which features two rugged main boards to drive the product’s four PV string inputs.
  • The SPOTX2 carries by ETL certification by Intertek for UL1741 (U.S.), CSA C22.2#107.1 (Canada) and IEC 62109-1 (European Union).

The SPOT X2 has been recast in a manner to make it easier to install to minimize the ‘soft’ costs – such as labor and ancillary installation materials – associated with PV retrofits. Minimizing installation costs is key to achieving the highest rate of return on PV retrofits.

“With a number of PV assets now changing hands as PV plants get older and PV fleets get consolidated, we are seeing a great deal of interest in retrofitting PV plants to improve energy yield. The SPOT X2 makes performing larger commercial and industrial or utility scale PV retrofits much easier than ever before,” explains Alencon Systems President Hanan Fishman. “Retrofitting a PV plant with Alencon’s SPOT can significantly increase PV yield by introducing more granular MPPT while at the same time improving safety and decreasing on-going O&M costs. Visitors to the Alencon booth at SPI will be able to see first-hand just how easy the Alencon’s SPOT PV retrofit solution is to deploy.”

 

— Solar Builder magazine

SIC USA looks to retrofit PV plants using Satcon inverters with power optimizers

SIC USA LLC and Alencon Systems LLC announced a partnership for promoting improved performance at existing PV plants with Satcon solar inverters. SIC USA is the exclusive US importer of the Satcon line of PV inverters. Alencon Systems is the manufacturer of the SPOT – String Power Optimizer and Transmitter – family of utility-scale PV DC-DC optimizers.

What the partnership does

satcon_alencon

As part of this partnership, SIC and Alencon’s engineering teams will work closely to ensure the interoperability of Alencon’s SPOTs with existing Satcon’s inverters already installed in the field. In addition to working in close partnership, Alencon has installed a grid-tied Satcon inverter in its power electronics lab in Hatboro, Pa., to provide real world test conditions for the performance of its SPOT PV DC-DC optimizers with the Satcon inverter platform.

Pairing Alencon’s SPOTs with Satcon inverters already installed in the field provides PV plant owners with a number of benefits. Alencon’s SPOTs increase energy in existing PV plants by providing string level maximum power point tracking (MPPT) to plants equipped with central inverters. Each Alencon SPOT has four MPPT inputs and thus can reverse the effects PV panel yield mismatch caused by uneven module degradation or other factors. For PV plants between five to ten years of age, Alencon’s SPOT will typically increase DC energy yield between 5 – 10% by mitigating the negative effects of mismatch while performing a host of other energy yield optimization functions.

Additionally, by injecting galvanic isolation between the PV strings and the Satcon inverter, Alencon’s SPOT can extend the life of the inverter by protecting it from any harmful faults that occur in the PV array. By isolating every string, the Alencon SPOT will also reduce the on-going operations and maintenance costs of plants with Satcon inverters by isolating each string in the event of trouble.

— Solar Builder magazine

Power optimizer for PV plants from Alencon Systems achieves ETL certification

Alencon Systems successfully gained ETL certification for its newest SPOT – String Power Optimizer and Transmitter – family of products. The ETL Mark from Intertek is proof that the product has been tested by an independent laboratory and meets the requirements of the applicable product safety standard. The new SPOT family of products meets the requirements of ANSI/UL1741, the safety standard for inverters, converters, controllers and interconnection system equipment for use with distributed energy resources. The SPOT is the largest ETL listed DC-DC optimizer for PV applications available on the market today.

SPOT Specs

spot_etl alencon systems

The latest version of the SPOT features a more rugged, low profile design along with a number of unique power electronics features to allow both new and existing PV plants to generate more energy while also streamlining their operations and maintenance (O&M) activities. Alencon’s SPOT can improve the yield of PV plants from anywhere 5 – 10% on average.

Galvanic Isolation: Alencon’s Unique Solution for Better PV Plant Performance

Alencon’s SPOT provides complete galvanic isolation between PV strings and the inverter. This unique feature makes the SPOT an incredible tool for O&M because any arc or ground faults that occur with a PV string can be isolated from the rest of the solar system. Additionally, arc and ground faults can be quickly traced to the exact PV string where they are occurring which means maintenance can be more efficiently deployed and repairs can be safely done on one string while the rest of the PV plant continues to produce power.

RELATED: 1,500-volt systems to trend in 2017: Here’s what you need to know 

Voltage Step-Up: Lower Conduction Losses, Better Inverter Performance

Alencon’s SPOT allows for a broad range of both input and output voltages, so it can be deployed to improve the performance of any PV plant, irrespective of its age. By stepping up voltage on the output, the SPOT is able to markedly reduce conduction losses. Additionally, by feeding a central inverter fixed voltage, the SPOT will allow a central inverter to run much more efficiently by providing it the level of voltage that allows it to perform at its highest rated efficiency.

The PV-IoT for Performance Monitoring and Control

In addition to providing a number of energy production enhancing features such as granular MPPT, galvanic isolation and voltage step up, the SPOT is also a very unique PV plant performance monitoring tool. The SPOT offers continuous, wireless communication to a central aggregator, so the performance of a PV plant can be studied down to the string level. The SPOT is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) ready device. By applying the PV-IoT, the Photovoltaic Internet of Things, the SPOT allows PV plant owners to assure their assets are operating at peak performance.

 

— Solar Builder magazine