SB Buzz Podcast: SunLink VP on tech, data, diversity and the path forward for solar

SunLink data podcast

We sat down, with mimosas in hand at 9 a.m. on the last day of Solar Power International, with Kate Trono, VP of Products for SunLink, for an in-depth discussion on the role that data and technology will play in the future of solar and (hopefully) the grid. At some point, I also nerd it up and mention my current favorite Sci-Fi comic series.

Listen below (and be sure to subscribe!)

What to listen for

After the intro and early rambling, we dig into what Kate and SunLink are most excited to be working on right now. “From what we’ve learned from how to take our [tracker] data and how to make sense out of it, we push out more intelligence – kind of that same thing we do in product management, and we think the other technology companies could do something similar with their data, where they make it more actionable, rather than just a data feed.” The goal being more transparent data across the industry.

At the 11:30 mark, Kate shares some cool ideas on better incentivizing reliability and performance in solar. “The way solar projects are financed … there’s other things solar could do rather than just hit an agreed to energy amount … grid services that are recognized by the utility.”

At the 15-minute mark, we burrow into Kate’s imagination and see her vision of the ideal energy world and solar’s role in it. This obviously leads us into a chat about video games and the Sci-Fi we are into these days.

This SPI there was also a big focus on diversity, and we wanted to get Kate’s perspective not just as a woman in solar, but in the tech/engineering world of solar, which is one of the most white male-dominated fields. That discussion starts at the 18-minute mark.

At the 21-minute mark, I explain my fears about our technology future, and Kate tries to calm me down.

Finally, around 24 minutes, Kate tells us what she found that was new and cool at this year’s SPI.

— Solar Builder magazine

This solar+storage case study shows 96 percent reduction in grid-buy

Tabuchi Americas

The post-net metering solar industry looms on the horizon, some day, for every state, but in Hawaii it is a reality, which makes it guinea pig. At SPI, Poncho’s Solar and Tabuchi Electric Co. will be presenting the results of their collaboration with J.O.B. Technologies (Aiea, Hawaii), detailing the results of a year-long case study on the post-NEM residential self-supply (non-export to the grid) market in Hawaii.

Analysis of the field data details various types of optimization and integration required to successfully integrate solar PV with electrical battery storage, solar hot water thermal storage, and summertime solar A/C cold thermal storage. By integrating solar PV + battery storage and adjusting the time-of-use (TOU) of the top 4 major household appliances and using Tabuchi Electric’s HEMS (home energy management system), nearly all household energy demands can be met without the need to purchase from the grid.

“In the post-NEM customer self-supply world, the economics of solar PV and saving electricity is quite different than with NEM,” noted John Borland, President of J.O.B. Technologies. “For NEM programs, the amount of cost savings and return on investment is determined by generating the maximum amount of solar PV energy possible and selling back to the grid. The key to the fastest return on investment in the post-NEM world is through achieving a monthly utility bill with Grid-Buy as close to zero as possible. By working with Poncho’s Solar and Tabuchi Electric over the past 15 months, we successfully reduced the monthly daily average Grid-Buy electricity by 96.0% through modifications and improvements to the solar thermal storage system, the inverter, the Home Energy Management System (HEMS), and the hardware and software control system. The average daily Grid-Buy energy in April 2017 was reduced to ~2.7kWh/day from 48.7kWh/day in April 2016. Additionally, 12 days were at Zero Grid-Buy, running on 100% Renewable Energy.”

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

“Mid 2016, we installed a 7 kW rooftop solar PV system with 27 c-Si modules with the Tabuchi Electric solar inverter and battery storage system,” stated Corpuz Poncho, President of Poncho’s Solar. “Since electrical water heaters in Hawaii can account for as much as 40 percent of the monthly household electrical bill, integrating the solar PV system with solar thermal is essential. To eliminate Grid-Buy needs on water heating, we customized the hot water tank into a thermal storage for Battery Optimized Discharge Hot Thermal Storage.”
The Tabuchi Electric 5.5kW solar PV inverter with 10kWh Lithium-ion storage battery provides multiple flexible modes of operation for users in both NEM-enabled markets, such as California and Arizona, and post-NEM markets like Hawaii.

“Our system monitoring software allows for optimization of energy usage by major household appliances to reduce Grid-Buy, with dynamic battery charging and discharging to maximize savings based on TOU rates,” noted Harumi McClure, President/COO of Tabuchi Electric Co. “The results from this study resulted in improvements to both the software and hardware of our hybrid inverter system. This enabled the Stand-Alone Operation of 21 days with ≤4kWh/day Grid-Buy, and of which 12 days were Zero Grid-Buy. Improvements were made to our new EIBS16GU2 system increasing the critical load panel to 3.3kW and doubling the capacity of batteries to 19.78kWh, and we expect our customers to see further financial savings on electricity and better return on their investment.”

— Solar Builder magazine

See Panasonic’s new 40mm frame HIT solar modules at SPI

Panasonic

At SPI, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America will exhibit be showing off several new products and presenting on the latest advancements in HIT high-efficiency PV modules with innovative silicon heterojunction technology at booth 6701.

The solar panel products that will be on display are the HIT N315K and N320K, Panasonic’s new line of all-black solar panels that have an industry-leading temperature coefficient of -0.258 percent, as well as the N335 and N330 solar panels, the latest in Panasonic’s line of high-efficiency solar modules with a new 40mm frame. These solar modules are manufactured with “N” type cells, which reduce the annual performance degradation from 0.70 percent to 0.26 percent when compared to conventional solar panels.

Earlier this year, Panasonic and Pika Energy Inc. partnered to create the Harbor Flex and Harbor Plus, DC-coupled solar smart batteries with industry-leading performance specifications. Panasonic will also be exhibiting a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, with a wide range of portable electronic applications.

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

— Solar Builder magazine

NCLAVE touts ’80 percent’ reduction in assembly time with new solar mounting system

NClave solar tracker

Spanish company NCLAVE — the merger of Grupo Clavijo and MFV Solar, and specialists in the design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of solar structures and trackers — will be showcasing some new stuff at Solar Power International in Las Vegas such as a new fixation system for framed modules, designed and patented by their I+D+I department, which significantly reduces assembly times by up to 80 percent.

By participating in SPI 2017, NCLAVE seeks to strengthen its presence in the USA, having already carried out various projects and with 2 offices operating in Miami and San Francisco. On another note, the company continues its expansion by increasing its international structure with an office in Australia in addition to those in Chile, El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Japan and France, together with its headquarters in Madrid (Spain) and its production centre in Viana (Navarra, Spain).

This international presence has enabled NCLAVE to take the strategic impulse and qualitative leap to strengthen its growth line in recent years (300 projects carried out with more than 2.5 GW installed) using the most advanced technology and offering the best service to the global photovoltaic sector.

The Ultimate SPI Showcase: Here’s what to see at Solar Power International 2017

— Solar Builder magazine

APsystems to debut ‘most advanced’ microinverter at SPI next week

Included in our massive SPI Preview Showcase is news that APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter.

APsystems-YC600-logo

The company says the YC600 includes groundbreaking design in microinverter technology and offers the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. A wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

The first of its kind, the YC600 is designed to accommodate today’s high output PV panels, offer enhanced capability and meet the latest grid compliance standards while providing an unprecedented level of power with dual, independent MPPT per channel. The unit also builds on the successful APsystems line of multi-module microinverters, simplifying installation and reducing logistics costs.

The new microinverter will debut at the APsystems booth #1745.

— Solar Builder magazine