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

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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

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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

Resilient Power Project — a pilot program to install solar+storage in low-income communities

Seven community-based nonprofits and affordable housing developers have been selected to receive grants from Clean Energy Group’s Resilient Power Leadership Initiative, as part of the Resilient Power Project, to build their organizational capacity on the benefits of solar and energy storage (solar+storage) technologies.

Resilient power solar storage

The Resilient Power Project, a joint initiative of Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute, works to deploy solar+storage projects in affordable housing and critical community facilities, with the goal of ensuring that the most vulnerable communities have access to the economic, health and resiliency benefits that solar+storage can provide.

“Incorporating a resilient strategy is a key component of creating healthy, efficient, and affordable housing,” said Julie Klump, Vice President of Design and Building Performance at POAH. “The grant will help us focus on the incorporation of resilient strategies at one or more current projects and across our portfolio.”

For this pilot program, Resilient Power Leadership Grants have been made to the following organizations working in the areas of affordable community housing, environmental justice, energy equity, and sustainability:

California Environmental Justice Alliance, Oakland and Huntington Park, CA
The Greenlining Institute, Oakland, CA
LINC Housing Corporation, Long Beach, CA
Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), Boston, MA
Sustāinable Molokai, Kaunakakai, HI
THE POINT Community Development Corporation, Bronx, NY
WE ACT for Environmental Justice, New York, NY

The work of these organizations and how they will use their awards can be found here.

“Low-income communities often experience disproportionately negative impacts from dirty power generation such as diesel generators during power outages,” said Dana Bourland, Vice President of JPB’s Environment Program. “By increasing clean energy generation, through solar+storage, these populations are not only protected from power outages, but they will also experience a reduction in harmful emissions.”

“There are hundreds of resilient solar+storage projects now in development or deployed in the U.S., as more companies and consumers are becoming aware of the benefits that solar+storage systems can offer,” said Seth Mullendore, Project Director at Clean Energy Group. “Unfortunately, very few community-based organizations have the internal capacity to move solar+storage projects forward or to advocate for policies that could lead to greater resilient power deployment in their communities. This is particularly true for nonprofits that serve low-income communities, which are most in need of cost savings and resiliency benefits from solar+storage, but often have limited resources available to access new technology solutions.”

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Here’s the price of residential solar-plus-storage systems, according to DOE research

Solar + Storage Backup system

Declining costs in customer-side energy storage products have opened the door for batteries to improve the value and flexibility of residential PV systems while falling costs in PV technologies have been driving the growing adoption of combined PV and storage solutions. However, gaps remain in developing an in-depth understanding of the costs of combined PV and battery systems and in effectively communicating their value proposition.

To close that gap, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are making available the most detailed component and system-level cost breakdowns to date for residential photovoltaic (PV) solar systems equipped with energy storage-and quantifying previously unknown soft costs for the first time. The report, titled “Installed Cost Benchmarks and Deployment Barriers for Residential Solar Photovoltaics with Energy Storage: Q1 2016,” was written by researchers from NREL, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Energy Department.

“There is rapidly growing interest in pairing distributed PV with storage, but there’s a lack of publicly available cost data and analysis,” said Kristen Ardani, lead author of the report and a solar technology markets and policy analyst at NREL. “By expanding NREL’s well-established component- and system-level cost modeling methodology for solar PV technologies to PV-plus-storage systems, this report is the first in a series of benchmark reports that will document progress in cost reductions for the emerging PV-plus-storage market over time.”

Details of the methodology

Through in-depth analysis of those costs and barriers to adoption, the report’s authors provide technology manufacturers, installers and other stakeholders with invaluable information to help guide their efforts to identify cost reduction opportunities. In addition, the analysis informs decision makers on market factors that are headwinds to further growth.

The analysis covers alternating current (AC)- and direct current (DC)-coupled systems for residential use, as well as retrofitting batteries to installed arrays, and the costs of enhancing the resiliency benefits of the combined system by switching to a battery with greater capacity. Both systems are designed to provide back-up power for critical loads in the event of a grid outage, and they enable a typical customer to optimize self-consumption of PV electricity-including peak-demand shaving and time-of-use shifting.

The results

The authors separate installed system cost into 13 categories that range from direct hardware costs, such as the PV modules and batteries themselves, to soft costs that include items such as labor for installations, permitting and inspections, and net profits. The resulting cost for a DC-coupled system that integrates a 5.6-kilowatt (kW) PV array and a 3-kW/6-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery is $27,703, which is roughly half hardware costs and half soft costs.

An AC-coupled system, which can be more effective in applications that tend to use the energy from the PV array at the time of generation, costs $1,865 more if the battery is installed at the same time as the array. In settings where the battery is retrofitted to an existing AC-coupled system, the cost is increased by $3,218 to $32,786. The system design that provides for greater resiliency with a 5-kW/20-kWh battery costs $45,237 when DC-coupled and $47,171 when AC-coupled.

This granular cost breakdown offers deeper insights into the potential for cost reductions than simply looking at price trends or hardware costs alone. It also provides critical information on where stakeholders should focus cost-reduction efforts. This cost benchmarking will be updated periodically to allow the tracking over time of the progress in declining costs.

This research is supported by the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. For residential PV, the SunShot goal is to get to $0.09/kWh by 2020 and $0.05/kWh by 2030.

— Solar Builder magazine