Power optimization goes big in Australia

16 Dec, 2013

I’ve been harping on about the potential I see for module level power optimization for some time, but a recent project using SolarEdge power optimizers demonstrates that this can work on large projects too.

Foster Bowling Club: A Cost-Efficient Commercial Installation
NSW based Solar PV Commercial recently completed a 100kW project on Forster Bowling Club using SolarEdge power optimizers and inverters. Since 2009, Solar PV Commercial has completed more than 4,000 PV installations in Australia and specializes in providing 50-250 kW PV solutions tailored to the energy requirements of business owners in NSW, and around Australia. When this site was initially designed using conventional inverters, it called for 20 strings of 20 modules. But with SolarEdge power optimizers and inverters, Solar PV Commercial was able to design the site with 8 strings of 34 modules and 4 strings of 32 modules.

The site’s demand peaks in the afternoon and happens to have east-to-west roofing, so Solar PV Commercial designed a system that utilized the existing roof orientation (saving money on framing), matched generation to demand (afternoon peak) and used SolarEdge optimizers to maximize power in the various different orientations.“This solution just made so much sense to everyone – it was a no brainer” Chapman said. Installation of SolarEdge power optimizers is completed in a single step – by simply clipping it to a module frame or attaching it to the rail with a single screw. The communications system uses the power cables to transmit data, simplifying the process and saving time.

Solar PV Commercial’s Daniel Chapman said “Not only did SolarEdge technology increase the site’s lifetime energy production by 7.7% and significantly decrease our customer’s upfront BoS costs, but it also saved time and money by simplifying our site design and installation process.”

Faster and Easier Site Design and Installation: 12 strings versus 20 strings with traditional inverters
The SolarEdge optimizer allows for both longer strings and for multiple orientations, tilts, and even module types in the same string. “The SolarEdge technology simplified site design for us by providing unprecedented design flexibility,” Chapman said.

Besides increasing design flexibility, module-level MPP tracking performed by SolarEdge power optimizers allows generation of maximum energy from each individual module. Even though the modules are installed on different roof facets, causing varying MPPs, they still generate the maximum energy possible while connected in a single string.

forster solar edge monitoring

Cost Effective Maintenance
SolarEdge power optimizers enable performance monitoring at the module level and offer accurate troubleshooting pinpointed on a virtual site map, for enhanced maintenance, improved transparency into system performance, and increased system uptime.

Chapman said: “For Forster Bowling Club, module-level monitoring means there is transparency into the system’s energy output which can be displayed in its lobby for visitors to see. For us this means that if there is a problem, we can analyze and identify problems on-line before we send our team to the site or onto the roof. The SolarEdge products make the PV system more efficient and, they keep our team safer, lower our maintenance costs and speeds up our response time.”

Enhanced Safety
With a unique built-in safety feature, SolarEdge technology guarantees ultimate safety for installers, maintenance personnel, firefighters, and other emergency forces by eliminating the risk of electrocution and electric arcs. In case of inverter or grid shutdown, SolarEdge power optimizers have a certified DC disconnect which automatically removes DC current as well as voltage from all string cabling. The voltage of each module is reduced to 1V.

“Standing behind every product we install, it is important to us that we deliver high-quality, superior systems. Safety is a key feature in any PV system for both our customers and our employees. In my opinion, the DC disconnect in SolarEdge technology puts its products in a superior safety class.” Chapman said.
Using SolarEdge technology helped Solar PV Commercial develop and install a system that provided a better return on investment for its customer and improved its service offering and efficiency. “With our overlying mantra being to keep the process of going solar as simple as possible and ensure that the customer understands the result the solar system will have on their energy bills, SolarEdge technology is a perfect match for us.”

Post expires at 9:34am on Tuesday December 16th, 2014

About the author

Nigel Morris
Nigel Morris

Nigel is the Director of SolarBusinessServices. After almost 20 years working for other companies SbS Director Nigel Morris, established the company in 2009 with a view to providing other organisations with the benefits of his wide experience in the renewable energy industry.

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  1. December 20, 2013

    Very interested in your article on the Forster Bowling Club installation. I agree with the comments about west facing modules – I did some study of daily power consumption in western Sydney (Penrith) and came to the same conclusion, particularity as regards summer peaks, which occur mid to late afternoon. The west or NW facing modules have power peaking characteristics closer to that of the system load.

    I am wondering though, how does individual module inverter/MPP give 7% better output that normal string -level inverters (other than allowing different module types)? And what about module strings with different tilts & orientations?

    (Dr) K Mitchell

    • Nigel Morris
      December 20, 2013

      Hi Dr Mitchell

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Although the gains from orientation (in terms of time/demand matching) are great, it is worth noting that of course on an annual basis, you do generate slightly less energy over the year. It depends wat the aim is and in increasing cases, matching to demand is more preferable to avoid exports which have little if any value these days.

      The gain from individual MPP comes from several areas. Firstly, not all modules are identical in performance so when they are combined in a string there is some mismatch. Module level MPP overcomes this. This effect can also be amplified by local conditions; ie some modules will operate hotter (if in the middle upper part of the array) because they have thermal gain as heat rises from others and less cooling from circulating fresh air. When you have different tilts and orientations of course, having individual MPP has a bigger benefit because it maximizes the output based on the radiation each module is receiving, not a sum of varying levels and outputs.

      String inverters have some great benefits and advantages, don’t get me wrong. But module level MPP have some too!

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