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.”

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“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

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

iDemand says new charge controller eliminates AC loss from solar+storage systems

solar storage charge controller

iDemand Energy Storage (iDES3) has developed a single conversion charge controller that they say will shorten the time needed for electrical current to travel from solar panels to storage batteries, and in so doing, save energy. The idea is to take voltage coming in and convert it efficiently to low voltage, high amperage.

“You need high amps because batteries charge in amp hours,” iDemand’s Chief Operating Officer Raymond Trejo said. “Now everyone’s using standard PV inverters to convert solar energy to usable AC energy, and then they use a secondary hybrid inverter to take that AC and convert it back to DC.”

The problem with this method, according to Trejo, is a loss of efficiency, anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of the energy.

“Our approach was to develop a high voltage charge controller that takes the high voltage solar energy and converts it to low voltage, high amperage DC to charge the batteries,” he said. “So, it’s all DC energy dumped straight into the batteries. Other companies aren’t looking for a solution to the conversion problem because they design battery storage solely as a backup system. But our battery is capable of being fully grid-independent.”

PV Pointers: How to future-proof PV systems with a storage-ready inverter

Under development for nearly a year and a half, the new charge controller, which eliminates AC loss, is expected to go on the market in mid-June. It is best suited for large scale commercial and industrial operations that use a vast amount of electricity.

“Since this product doesn’t require a second inverter, it will save customers money,” Trejo added.
He pointed out that while the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz Energy recently announced a partnership with solar installer Vivint to sell backup storage, and SolarCity has merged with Tesla to do likewise, neither appear to be developing storage systems with a level of extended functionality equal to that of the new iDES3 charge controller.

iDemand_New_Charge_Controller-01 (002)

iDemand’s battery lineup includes the 9-36 kilowatt hour Echo Indoor series suitable for most residential needs, the 9-72 kWh Echo Outdoor and 36-108 kWh Indoor/Outdoor Alpha. Commercial systems include the 36-108 kWh Indoor/Outdoor Alpha, and the Mega, the smallest of which comes in at 500 kWh, and can be customized in 108 kWh increments. They are all comprised of fifth-generation lithium iron phosphate, LiFePO4, prismatic cell technology, which is safe and will not self-ignite.

— Solar Builder magazine

Sunetric, Sunnova team to offer solar+storage solutions in Hawaii

Sunnova residential solar-001

Sunetric, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RGS Energy, and Sunnova Energy Corp., a residential solar service provider in the U.S., have joined forces to offer comprehensive solar solutions with battery storage to residential customers in Hawaii.

“As one of the leading full service renewable energy providers in Hawaii, Sunetric is a perfect partner to introduce our new PowerStack service plan to the Aloha State,” said Jordan Frugé, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunnova Energy. “Through their well-established local marketing and sales channels, Sunetric will offer our advanced solar+storage system as one of the most affordable and effective solar power solutions available in Hawaii.”

Customers will benefit from no money down and low monthly lease payments for a solar+storage service plan designed to offer affordable, reliable and clean solar power day and night—while also lowering their utility bill.

Hawaii expands customer grid supply capacity (adding 20 MW)

PowerStack is backed by Sunnova’s industry-leading warranty that covers everything from the panels to the battery, and even the wires. The comprehensive solutions delivered by Sunetric include complete project management, permitting and installation, in addition to Sunnova’s lifetime monitoring, support and service.

The solution is supported by the customer self-supply (CSS) program mandated by the Hawaii PUC, which enables homeowners to install solar systems that do not export power to the utility grid. By including energy storage with their new solar system, customers benefit from an expedited PUC review and approval process. The CSS program was established to help the state to achieve 100% renewable energy status by 2045.

“Through our partnership with Sunnova, a leading residential solar service provider in the U.S., we can now offer Hawaii residents a very competitive and affordable solar solution that can provide around-the-clock renewable energy,” said Darren Jennings, Vice President of Sunetric. “With PowerStack, going solar is now an even more attractive option for Hawaiians residents looking to lower their energy costs.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Partnership between Clean Energy Group, Geli to focus on solar+storage for low-income communities

Grow-community-micro-neighborhood

Clean Energy Group, a national, nonprofit organization, will work with the energy storage control and monitoring software company, Geli, to help bring the benefits of solar PV with battery storage technologies to more low-income and otherwise disadvantaged communities. Using Geli’s new online energy storage and solar+storage design and assessment tool, ESyst, Clean Energy Group will provide free training and support to nonprofit organizations evaluating solar+storage solutions for low-income communities.

Through its Resilient Power Project, Clean Energy Group works to accelerate market development and deployment of solar+storage for affordable housing and critical community facilities in disadvantaged communities. Solar+storage can help strengthen these communities both through ensuring more reliable power to support critical services during extended power outages and to reduce the economic burden of rising energy costs. The goal of the work is to further clean energy equity by ensuring that all communities have equal access to the economic, health, and resiliency benefits that solar+storage technologies can provide.

“Our work with Geli will help to level the clean energy playing field in low-income communities,” said Seth Mullendore, a project director with Clean Energy Group. “With ESyst, we’ll be able to give communities the knowledge and free tools to explore solar+storage options without having to rely on proprietary industry models or expensive engineering firms. Low-income community leaders can use the tool to get a good understanding of the economics of a proposed project before reaching out to developers.”

Wells Fargo commits $2 million to low-income solar installs via GRID Alternatives

Geli announced the nationwide launch of ESyst in April. With access to over 10,000 electric rate tariffs across 1,300 U.S. utility service territories, ESyst was developed to standardize and simplify the process of sizing energy storage and solar+storage systems for commercial and industrial properties. The free online tool lets users perform in-depth site analyses in a matter of minutes – calculating both a property’s energy and demand charges savings over time. The tool allows users to select from multiple system options according to project needs, financial parameters, and supplier preferences, and includes functionality to download full financial pro formas and a detailed breakdown of how the system will generate value.

Clean Energy Group will host a free webinar with Geli to introduce ESyst and walk through an example of how to use the platform to analyze an affordable housing property on Thursday, May 24, at 1 p.m. EDT.

— Solar Builder magazine