NEXTracker Launches Storage-Integrated Solar Tracker
California-based NEXTracker, a Flex company, has launched a solar-tracker-plus-storage solution. The new NX Fusion Plus solution integrates a tracker, battery, inverter and software. By incorporating battery storage technology into its product, NEXTracker says it will further increase the energy output and duration of solar power plants.
“NX Fusion Plus is an incredibly powerful development for the energy industry,” comments NEXTracker Chief Technology Officer Alex Au. “Our goal has always been to identify the best technologies for addressing solar generation’s intermittency. We can now dispatch uninterrupted clean energy in the most effective manner possible for the customer. Our tracker becomes the data acquisition backbone of the plant, offering complete system analytics and monitoring. NX Fusion Plus enables higher return on investment than solar alone because we can now utilize more clipped energy and offset demand charges for end users.”
NX Fusion Plus will incorporate Ideal Power Inc.’s SunDial inverter. The SunDial, based on Ideal Power’s patented Power Packet Switching Architecture, is a grid-tied commercial 30 kW PV string inverter that has an integrated six-string PV combiner and DC disconnect with a 480 V, three-phase output.
“We are honored to have been approached by NEXTracker to supply our new SunDial Plus multi-port solar-plus-storage inverter,” says Dan Brdar, CEO of Ideal Power.
In addition, NX Fusion Plus will incorporate predictive modeling software acquired through NEXTracker’s purchase of BrightBox in 2016. The company says the machine-learning capability optimizes solar power plant performance and reduces operations and maintenance costs.
“This solution brings together the NEXTracker protocol, the machine-learning and predictive analytics capability of BrightBox, and Flex’s cyber-secure software platform to ultimately deliver more value to the end user,” says Scott Graybeal, senior vice president of Flex Energy Solutions.
JinkoSolar PV Modules Meet Anti-PID Standards
China-based JinkoSolar has announced that its entire portfolio of PV modules passed the 96-hour potential induced degradation (PID) resistance test under the conditions of 85°C and 85% relative humidity (double 85) at +/-1,000 V, as required by IEC62804 standards, with a degradation of less than 5%. As such, JinkoSolar says it can now guarantee anti-PID under double 85 condition with the warranty of less than 5% degradation for its PV modules.
“JinkoSolar’s PV solar modules are 100 percent in compliance with double 85 anti-PID standards and offer the related warranty, which marks a milestone in anti-PID technology development of the solar industry and demonstrates our leading position in the field,” says Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar’s CEO. “We will continue to improve our anti-PID system to generate a better performance under higher voltage and other tougher conditions.”
In other company news, JinkoSolar has completed the previously announced sale of its downstream business in China. The company has sold the 55% equity interest it indirectly held in Jiangxi JinkoSolar Engineering Co. Ltd., a developer and operator of solar power projects in China, to Shangrao Kangsheng Technology Co. Ltd., a company formed by a buyer consortium led by Xiande Li, JinkoSolar’s board chairman, for $250 million in cash.
FOCUS: System Monitoring
Morningstar Bolsters Network Connectivity With EMC-1
Morningstar, a supplier of solar controllers and inverters, has introduced its new Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC-1), which enables IP-based network connectivity to any Morningstar product that features an existing MeterBus port (RJ-11).
Morningstar products that include the RJ-11 port are the TriStar MPPT, ProStar MPPT, SunSaver MPPT, TriStar PWM, SunSaver Duo and SureSine Inverter.
The company says the EMC-1 offers IP-based MODBUS connectivity, remote configuration of controller settings, Morningstar’s Live View (which displays status and log data directly from the EMC-1 to a website), and a cloud-hosted data service.
Fraunhofer ISE Claims Record With New Solar Cell
Researchers at the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), together with the Austrian company EV Group, have claimed a new record after successfully manufacturing a silicon-based multi-junction solar cell with 30.2% efficiency. According to Fraunhofer ISE, that efficiency exceeds the theoretical limit of silicon solar cells.
For this achievement, the researchers used a “direct wafer bonding” process to transfer a few micrometers of III-V semiconductor material to silicon – a well-known process in the microelectronics industry. After plasma activation, the subcell surfaces are bonded together in vacuum by applying pressure. The atoms on the surface of the III-V subcell form bonds with the silicon atoms, creating a monolithic device.
According to Fraunhofer ISE, the efficiency achieved by the researchers presents a first-time result for this type of fully integrated silicon-based multi-junction solar cell. The complexity of its inner structure is not evident from its outer appearance: The cell has a simple front and rear contact just as a conventional silicon solar cell and, therefore, can be integrated into photovoltaic modules in the same manner, Fraunhofer ISE adds.
“We are working on methods to surpass the theoretical limits of silicon solar cells,” says Dr. Frank Dimroth, department head at Fraunhofer ISE. “It is our long-standing experience with silicon and III-V technologies that has enabled us to reach this milestone today.”
A conversion efficiency of 30.2% for the III-V/Si multi-junction solar cell of 4 cm2 was measured at Fraunhofer ISE’s calibration laboratory. In comparison, the researchers say the highest efficiency measured to date for a pure silicon solar cell is 26.3%, and the theoretical efficiency limit is 29.4%.
FOCUS: System Monitoring
iC3 Software Platform Enhances Monitoring Capabilities
Adara Power has introduced its iC3 platform, a product suite that integrates battery and inverter controls with cloud-based software and IoT connectivity. The company says the platform is initially available in scalable 125 kW/250 kWh inverter/battery packages for commercial-scale applications.
Central to the platform is the Adara iC3 Controller, an intelligent hardware and firmware device that optimizes battery life and performance relative to a facility’s electrical load demand. The associated iC3 Cloud solution uses an Amazon Web Services infrastructure to scale processing and data storage, as well as monitors commercial energy storage installations.
Additionally, the Adara iC3 Connectivity tool includes device-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud integration, with optional application programming interfaces to enable integration to higher-level building energy management systems and for utility smart grid services.
Ingeteam Readies New Three-Phase String Inverter
Ingeteam says it is finalizing the launch of its new solar PV string inverter, which will make it possible to achieve a power output of 100 kW AC in a single, 75 kg unit. The inverter is set to go into production in June 2017.
The company says this new three-phase inverter, commercialized under the name INGECON SUN 100TL, is suitable for indoor and outdoor installation alike and is primarily directed at commercial, industrial and large-scale projects.
According to Ingeteam, the inverter’s high power density means that it is possible to reduce the number of inverters to be installed and, therefore, the total amount of cabling. Furthermore, the company says no combiner boxes are required (either in DC or AC), and a neutral cable is not necessary, thereby reducing the total AC cabling cost by up to 20%.
The inverter’s main features also include a maximum efficiency of 98.8%, Wi-Fi and Ethernet communications supplied as standard, a maximum DC input voltage of up to 1,100 VDC, and grid support functionalities, with a low-voltage ride-through capability and reactive power capability, the company adds.
Ingeteam notes that the new inverter extends its INGECON SUN 3Play TL range up to 100 kW, and its 3Play family models available up to now, with output powers ranging from 10 kW to 40 kW, are already installed across various countries, including the U.S.
Sunrun Expands BrightBox Offering To Calif. Market
After initially launching its Sunrun BrightBox solar-plus-storage solution in Hawaii in early 2016, residential solar provider Sunrun Inc. is now making the solution available to homeowners across California.
According to the company, Sunrun BrightBox is a solar-plus-storage service that offers homeowners peace of mind during power outages by backing up the electrical circuits that matter most to homeowners. BrightBox also saves homeowners money by optimizing when a home uses electricity generated directly from the home’s solar system, stored in the battery, or sourced from the grid, resulting in maximum control over electricity bills, the company adds. Sunrun will maintain, monitor and insure the system for 20 years. Systems are available through a monthly or prepaid lease.
“Building on the successful launch of BrightBox in Hawaii, we are thrilled to offer Sunrun BrightBox to California homeowners who’ve been the leaders in adopting clean energy at scale,” says Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun.
Sunrun says that as California moves toward a time-of-use rate structure, BrightBox will provide consumers with new ways to manage their energy consumption, allowing homeowners to time shift when they use solar energy to minimize paying peak rate energy prices. Michael Grasso, chief marketing officer of Sunrun, adds, “The backup capability ensures you will have several hours of power for important appliances and electronics even when your local electricity grid goes down.”
Sunrun says it plans to launch BrightBox in more states in the coming year.
FOCUS: System Monitoring
Solar-Log Solution Integrates With GE Smart Meter
Solar Data Systems Inc. has rolled out integration capabilities for its Solar-Log PV monitoring technology with GE’s 1-210+ socket meter, which will streamline residential solar PV plant monitoring and enable revenue-grade metering and automatic incentive reporting.
The new Solar-Log 370 and GE meter combination offers I/O ports for numerous connectivity options, including inverter-direct monitoring, consumption monitoring, power management and connection to on-site weather sensors. The Solar-Log 370 ensures maximized residential solar PV plant performance by comparing the generated power to a solar irradiance sensor, produced power from nearby plants, open-source performance databases and/or weather satellite irradiance information in real time. It can connect via a cellular network or LAN, giving near-real-time visualization of plant data.