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5 SOLAR INSTALLATION BEST PRACTICES YOU NEED TO KNOW

Installing solar panels can be more complex than you think. There are numerous factors to take into account that go beyond simple functionality. This includes how the system will look, how long it will last, whether and when maintenance can be completed, how the environment will affect the system, and how you need to label the system to ensure compliance.

Design for Looks

A good solar installation will take looks into account. Customers might be willing to have less than-pretty things done to their home, but an ugly installation will lower the house’s value, annoy neighbors, and damage the perception of solar technology.

Design to Last

When selecting components, it’s important to make sure that they are appropriate for the installation. Components should complement each other. If a critical component has half the expected life of other components, the system might fail before you expect it.

Design to be Maintenance Friendly

The solar system should be designed so there is enough room to perform work safely. From time to time, there will be a need to remove a panel, access conduits, or work with other components. Smart designs will ensure workers can perform work safely.

Design for the Environment

Many environmental factors need to be addressed when installing solar panels. These include elements on the roof as well as wind and sun levels.

Roof Structures

Residential and commercial buildings often have obstructions (chimneys, air conditioning units, etc.) that can block some sunlight. Always map out the roof before deciding on a solar system’s configuration, maximizing the sunlight panels will receive. Another roof-related factor that needs to be taken into account is structural integrity. Installing an array adds extra weight to the roof, so it’s important to ensure that the roof can support the array. When doing this, other factors like water and debris must be taken into account for the final design.

Wind

Installations need to stand up to the elements. To this end, understanding seasonal wind maximums is essential to ensure that installations are robust. In addition to wind levels, the roof’s shape and other architectural elements can affect the wind’s force. It’s important to understand how the wind will behave, and how to best mount the panels to reduce the chance of damage or vibration from the wind.

 

Sun Levels and Power Demand

It’s important to understand the electricity demand of a given area when installing solar panels. As with any installation, it’s essential to understand the environment and how to maximize the solar energy your customers can use.

Labeling Your System

Before you begin installing a solar system, preferably during the design phase, it’s essential to understand which labels will be required.

SOLAR PANEL MAINTENANCE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Solar panels are a great investment as they can provide one with renewable solar energy for an entire 25+ year lifespan. But how do you maintain them? Read more about solar panel maintenance below.

Keep the shade away

Make sure that the path of sunlight is clear and is hitting your panels well throughout the day. This will keep them efficient and productive when the sun is up.

Check on your panels regularly. 

If you’re using an inverter, make sure that its green light indicator is flashing. This means that your solar cells are converting energy that you can use for your devices.

Watch out for consistency. 

If your system is producing the same energy (or more daily), then it is in good shape. However, if you see a significant decline in its efficiency, then, perhaps, it’s time to get it checked by an expert. Or, maybe it’s time to clean them.

Be aware of the weather’s effect.

If there’s a season change, it can be a good trigger for you to get that water hose and start sprinkling. When you do, make sure that the pressure isn’t so high that it will scratch the cell surface. Don’t use harmful chemicals or cleaners on your system. Distilled water is enough in keeping it clean and sparkling.

Invest in automatic cleaners.

Accumulated dirt can cover the panel’s surface and lead to reduced productivity. If you don’t have time to clean the device yourself, or you don’t think it’s safe for you to climb a ladder to reach it, then you can use automatic sprinklers to clean your panels. However, this is not necessary.

Never step on your panels

Even if you’re barefoot, it is never safe to step on your panels in the case of ground-mounted panels. Dirt on your foot may scrape the crystal’s surface and do more harm than good. If you need someone to check on it, seek the help of a professional who will know how to keep the system safe and functional.

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The world’s biggest solar power plants

Solar is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world, and with countries racing to assert their dominance in the burgeoning industry the leading nation is never clear for long. Power-technology.com profiles the eight biggest solar power plants in the world.

The nations pulling ahead in the sunny sector are China and the US, which together account for two-thirds of the global growth in solar power.

The ten largest solar power plants in the world

  1. Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
  2. Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
  3. Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
  4. Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
  5. Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
  6. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
  7. Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
  8. Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
  9. Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
  10. Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW

Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, USThe Topaz solar farm is located in the north-western part of the Carrisa Plains in San Luis Obispo County, California, US. The 550MW plant was developed by First Solar and later acquired by BHE Renewables in January 2012. Commissioned in 2014, the project covers an area of 4,700 acres and is equipped with more than eight million solar modules. Topaz supplies electricity to approximately 180,000 households in California.

  1. Solar Star Projects, US

Solar Star Projects comprises two co-located projects, Solar Star 1 and Solar Star 2, in the Kern and Los Angeles counties, Rosamond, California, US. The two projects have a combined capacity of 579MW and comprise more than 1.7 million solar modules installed on 3,200 acres of land. They were developed by SunPower Corporation and owned by BHE Renewables.

  1. Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India

The Kamuthi solar facility in Tamil Nadu, India, has a total generation capacity of 648MW. Covering 2,500 acres (10km²) and consisting of 2.5 million solar panels, the site is estimated to supply enough power for 750,000 people.

The plant is cleaned every day by a robotic system, which is charged by its solar panels. The power generated by the facility is evacuated to the 400kV Kamuthi substation operated by Tantransco and distributed to approximately 265,000 homes.

  1. Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico

Located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, the photovoltaic (PV) facility comprises more than 2.5 million solar panels installed across 2,400ha in the Mexican semi-arid region. The 828MW power plant became fully operational in September 2018 and can produce more than 2,000GWh a year.

  1. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China

The Longyangxia solar park has a capacity of 850MW, sufficient to power 200,000 households. The site sits on the Tibetan Plateau in northwestern China’s Qinghai province and spans 27km². The plant is installed with approximately four million solar panels and is operated by State Power Investment Corporation, one of China’s top five power generators.

  1. Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India

Kurnool solar park covers 5,683.22 acres (22.99km²) in the Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh. With a total generating capacity of 1,000MW, the solar park was built with an investment of approximately $1bn.

The project was implemented by SBG Cleantech Project (350MW), Greenko Group (500MW), Azure Power (100MW), and Prayatna Developers (50MW). More than four million solar panels were installed in the park, each with a capacity ranging between 315W and 320W.

  1. Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China

The Datong solar project is being developed in Datong City, Shanxi province, China. The project is part of China’s National Energy Administration’s plans to develop solar projects in the region. It includes the development of seven 100MW projects, five 50MW projects, and several smaller capacity projects.

A total of 1,070MW capacity was operational by 2016, while the development of an additional 600MW was announced.

  1. Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China

The Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, has an installed capacity of 1,000MW. Opened in September 2016, the plant is touted as the world’s biggest continuous solar PV array.

The power plant features Huawei’s SUN2000-40KTL and SUN2000-50KTL smart PV controllers and smart PV wireless transmission system, which uses a fiber ring network. The central management of the power plant is through the FusionSolar Smart O&M cloud center, which utilizes cloud computing and big data to efficiently operate the plant through its 25-year life span.

  1. Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE

The Sweihan PV independent power project is located in Sweihan in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Covering an area of 7.8km², the plant has an installed capacity of 1,177MW.

The power plant was developed by a joint venture of Marubeni Corporation (20%), Jinko Solar (20%), and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA, 60%) with an investment of $870m. It commenced commercial operations in April 2019 and supplies electricity to more than 195,000 homes.

Sweihan uses an innovative module layout design, high-efficiency monocrystalline solar modules, and advancements in project maintenance to ensure a low cost of power generation.

  1. Tengger Desert Solar Park, China

The Tengger solar park located in Zhongwei, Ningxia, dubbed the ‘Great Wall of Solar’, covers 1,200km of the 36,700km Tengger desert, occupying 3.2% of the arid region.

The 1,547MW plant is owned by China National Grid and Zhongwei Power Supply Company. Construction was started in 2012 and the power plant became operational in 2017. The project developers included Tianyun New Energy Technology, Beijing Jingyuntong Technology, Ningxia Qingyang New Energy, Qinghai New Energy, and Zhongwei Yinyang New Energy.

The solar park supplies green energy to more than 600,000 homes.

5 Solar Installation Best Practices You Need to Know

Installing solar panels can be more complex than you think. There are numerous factors to take into account that go beyond simple functionality. This includes how the system will look, how long it will last, whether maintenance can be completed, how the environment will affect the system, and how you need to label the system to ensure compliance.

Design for Looks

A good solar installation will take looks into account. Customers might be willing to have less than pretty things done to their home, but an ugly installation will lower the house’s value, annoy neighbors, and damage the perception of solar technology. Good design should ensure that:

  • Each panel is the same color
  • Edges of arrays are parallel to the edges of the roof
  • Each array is aligned to the same height (typically 3 inches off the roof)
  • Conduits on the exterior are concealed when possible

Design to Last

When selecting components, it’s important to make sure that they are appropriate for the installation. Components should complement each other. If a critical component has half the expected life as other components, the system might fail before you expect. To ensure the system operates as expected:

  • Ensure component warranties are appropriate for the installation
  • Understand failure points and eliminate them as possible
  • Follow local codes to ensure that the system is built appropriately for its geographic location

Design to be Maintenance Friendly

The solar system should be designed so that there is enough room to perform work safely. From time to time, there will be a need to remove a panel, access conduits, or work with other components. Smart designs will ensure workers can perform work safely.

To help with this, the National Electrical Code, International Building Code, International Residential Code, and other standards provide helpful guidelines for installing solar systems in a safe and efficient manner, which includes designing for maintenance.

Design for the Environment

There are many environmental factors that need to be addressed when installing solar panels. These include elements on the roof as well as wind, seismic activity, and sun levels.

Roof Structures

Residential and commercial buildings often have obstructions (chimneys, parapets, air conditioning units, etc.) that can block some sunlight. Always map out the roof before deciding on a solar system’s configuration, maximizing the sunlight panels will receive. Another roof-related factor that needs to be taken into account is structural integrity. Installing an array adds extra weight to the roof, so it’s important to ensure that the roof can support the array. When doing this, other factors like water, snow, and debris must be taken into account for the final design.

Wind

Installations need to stand up to the elements. To this end, understanding seasonal wind maximums is essential to ensure that installations are robust. In addition to wind levels, the roof’s shape and other architectural elements, like parapets, can affect the wind’s force. It’s important to understand how the wind will behave, and how to best mount the panels to reduce the chance of damage or vibration from the wind.

Sun Levels and Power Demand

It’s important to understand the electricity demand of a given area when installing solar panels. In many areas, peak energy demand is seen in the afternoons of the summer months, due to air-conditioning use. While south-facing panels in these areas produce more total power over the course of the year, west-facing panels produce more power during those peak demand times. In some cases, this will be more valuable, better matching the customers’ needs and reducing strain on the grid.

As with any installation, it’s essential to understand the environment and how to maximize the solar energy your customers can use.

Labeling Your System

Before you begin installing a solar system, preferably during the design phase, it’s important to understand which labels will be required.  Some labeling requirements can vary depending on the system’s configuration. For example, each of the following have special requirements:

  • Standalone systems
  • Interconnected systems
  • Back-fed over current protection devices
  • Solidly grounded systems
  • Systems with rapid shutdown switches

Fun Facts About Clean Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

These days it seems that terms like “renewable and sustainable energy” are on everyone’s lips. And despite all the talk and hype, there are still many popular misconceptions about renewable energy and what it means for our planet’s future. Yes, we know that it’s better for the environment, but what exactly does that mean for us?

So, let’s take a moment to look at the facts.

What is renewable energy?

The term renewable energy refers to any energy source that can be utilized more than once. For example, fossil fuels like coal can only be burned once to create energy. Once that lump of coal is burned up, there’s no way to use it again quickly.

On the other hand, when we use a resource like the wind to turn a turbine, it does not stop blowing as soon as we take energy from it. We take some of its kinetic energy, but there will always be more wind. As another example, when we use biomass (plant matter) for energy, we may burn a singular plant, but we can always grow more relatively quickly.

Here are our top 5 renewable energy fun facts:

1. Renewable energy creates 5x more jobs than fossil fuels

Fortunes have been made in the oil industry, so this is a statistic few oil tycoons want you to know about. However, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, and when it comes to exclusively coal and gas (excluding oil), that number rises to 5 to 1.

That means for every 1,000 people employed in the coal and gas industries, there are 5,000 jobs available in the renewable energy sector.

Best of all, these jobs are created locally. Much of our oil and fuel comes from overseas, and so there is even more opportunity to create jobs here in the Uganda ( Africa ) with the help of renewables.

2. Solar power could be the world’s top power source by 2050

According to a report by the International Energy Agency, solar power is set to be the number one power source by 2050. Why? The solar industry is growing fast each and every year, as it is one of the few renewable energy sources that can be utilized by businesses and individuals alike. Virtually any open space or rooftop can be used to place solar panels.

While solar panels lack some efficiency currently, that is quickly changing. As the panels themselves become more sophisticated, they’ll be even more eagerly adopted.

3. One wind turbine can power up to 1,500 homes for a year

Yes, you read that correctly. The average on-land wind turbine (2.5-3MW capacity) can produce enough electricity to power 1,500 average homes. If you look to offshore turbines, this number increases exponentially due to their advantageous positioning, with the capacity to power an impressive 3,312 households!

That single wind turbine also creates jobs and requires little maintenance over its lifetime. The average wind turbine lasts for 20-25 years, meaning it can power 1,500 homes each year for a quarter of a century. If that’s not clean energy, we don’t know what it is!

4. Massive corporations are pledging to go green

The switch to renewable energy is everyone’s responsibility, and so numerous top companies have pledged to go green or even achieve net-zero soon. Here are some of the most innovative:

  • Tesla: Tesla, of course, is no stranger to thinking green. Since they build some of the world’s most popular electric vehicles, it’s no surprise to learn that they are also developing super-efficient batteries to store renewable energy sources.
  • McDonald’s: Not often looked to for being good for us or the planet, McDonald’s is actually making major changes to ensure that they do less damage to the planet. They’ve switched to energy-efficient appliances, encouraging hybrid and electric vehicles in their parking lots, and are doing more to source their animal products from considerate sources.
  • Dell: Dell implemented a recycling policy so their products don’t fill landfills. Customers can give back any of their old branded products for free, so they can recycle and dispose of them responsibly.
  • Google: Google constructed the most energy-efficient data centers in the world and is a voice for good when it comes to the need to conserve energy. Google continues to support and fund green energy initiatives and projects, and even buys and installs solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Walmart: Walmart has done a significant amount to ensure their supply chains are as green as possible. They cut off any suppliers that weren’t doing anything to ensure their distribution and manufacturing methods were cutting down on carbon emissions.

5. Renewable energy can help you save money

We often hear the argument that we can’t switch to renewable energy sources because it’s too costly to build the new infrastructure. While building any new infrastructure is costly, did you know that in the US if they were on 100% renewable energy, it would actually save $321 billion in energy costs each year?

A study by Rewiring America found that households would save a significant amount of money by switching to clean energy sources. If all elements within a household ran on clean energy (that includes things like your furnace), it could save the average household a tantalizing $2,500 a year. Who wouldn’t like that much money back in their pocket?

In many cases, we’re told that switching to renewable energy will require sacrifice, but that’s simply not the case. In the long term, we can expect to see significant savings for our actions, especially for those who can afford to be early adopters of electric vehicles.

If you want to be a part of this global change for the better, you don’t need to wait! You have the power to choose clean energy now for your home. Our customers are just like you: decided to make a positive change by switching their homes to clean energy at a fixed monthly price.

Here’s what happens to your Solar PV when the sun goes down

Will my Solar PV System work at night and on cloudy days?

Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity for your home so they do not work in darkness. Therefore, it is important to consider solar storage, which allows your solar panel system to access electricity overnight when solar panel production is dormant, either through a connection to the electric grid or a battery. With a grid connection or solar energy storage, solar panels are a sustainable round-the-clock energy solution.

What happens with my Solar PV system during a power outage?

Grid-connected PV systems are designed to shut down to prevent back-feeding electricity into de-energized powerlines. The purpose of this is to protect line workers or electricians who may be trying to make repairs to the grid. This is imperative for all grid-tie systems. For those who want to have some critical power for things like freezers, lights, appliances, or water pumps during an outage, changes can be made to the system to accommodate those loads

Do you have any questions about Solar energy? Talk to our experts

What are the benefits of co-locating solar and crop production?

There are different benefits of co-locating solar and crop production for solar energy developers and farmers.

Benefits to solar developers include:

  • Reduced installation costs – The use of previously tilled agriculture may prevent the need for expensive grading to flatten land to a usable level.
  • Reduced upfront risk – Geotechnical risks can increase the cost of solar installation due to increased testing needs. Previously tilled agricultural land was identified as the “least risk option” during a series of surveys with solar installers.
  • Reduced legal risk – By using previously disturbed land, solar installers can reduce the risk of upfront litigation during the environmental review process.
  • Potential increase in PV performance – Vegetation under modules can contribute to lower soil temperatures and increase solar performance.

Benefits to agricultural land managers include: 

  • Reduced electricity costs
  • Diversification of the revenue stream
  • Increased ability to install high-value, shade-resistant crops for new markets
  • Marketing opportunity for a sustainability-mindful audience
  • Ability to maintain crop production during solar generation
  • Allow for nutrient and land recharge of degraded lands.
  • Potential for water use reduction
  • Potential to extend growing seasons

 

Battery Maintenance Tips

  1. Taking good care of your Solar Batteries is one of the best ways to improve battery performance, increase battery life and decrease the lifetime cost of your off-grid solar energy system.

    Here are some of the maintenance tips to extend the Battery life of your Solar System

    1. Protect your Solar battery bank from extreme temperatures. Extreme temperatures may cause your solar batteries to malfunction and stop working. Therefore, to prolong the lifespan of your battery bank, ensure that you keep it from extreme heat or cold.
    2. Conduct regular inspections for your solar battery bank. Checking your battery bank regularly will enable you to detect potentially threatening conditions thus saving you from unexpected expenses.
    3. Checking the fluid level. This only applies to unsealed batteries (FLA), which are flooded lead-acid batteries. Open your battery cap and look inside. Add distilled water into the cells so that no metal lead surfaces are visible.
    4. Check also for leakage and corrosion on or near the terminals and cables. Finally, feel around for hot spots. One battery may feel warmer than the others, or the lugs at the cable ends could fail and get hot.
    5. Keep your Solar batteries charged. Keeping your Solar batteries in the discharged state for an extended period may affect the capacity and lifetime of your battery bank. Ensure that you completely charge your solar batteries every month to reduce internal corrosion and degradation

Upgrading your Off-Grid Solar System? Here’s what you need to know

Your Solar energy system may not have been sized to accommodate heavy usage or your energy consumption may have increased. The good news is your off-grid or stand-alone solar system can be upgraded to fully cater to your energy needs.

When can your Off-grid system be upgraded?

  1. Increased Energy Consumption: Your household or business energy usage can grow due to the addition of new electrical appliances, or simply an increase in the number of people in your home. This may call for the need to expand your existing solar system to cater to the increase
  2. Underperforming System: If this is the case, it’s time to contact your original installer. If your system is still under warranty (most warranties are 20 years) and the issues with the system are legitimate under the warranty, then you should not need to pay for a replacement. You may, however, decide after your system has been fixed that you still want to upgrade, which will then put you in the two below scenarios.
  3. The solar system is performing well but you want to increase its size. If your current system’s inverter can add more panels and your roof has the space to cater for additional panels, this will be your best option to increase your generated energy. This will cost less than if you were to upgrade your inverter or install an additional solar system
  4. The Solar system is performing well, you have excess energy and want to add battery storage. Adding a battery to your system will allow you to store any excess energy generated from your system, for you to use when your system is not generating energy (when the sun is not out). For a battery to be useful and store excess power your current solar system must be generating more energy than you are consuming daily.

Here’s how your Off-grid system can be upgraded

An Off-grid system can be upgraded by adding panels, inverters, and battery

Adding a battery to your existing Solar System

Adding a battery to an existing grid-tied solar system depends on whether or not your system was designed to do so.

  1. Storage-Ready Solar System. Because installing solar is quite expensive, some people usually start small with an intention of expanding the system in the future.
  2. DC Coupled System: With a DC Coupled System, your inverter will be replaced by one that works with a battery and a solar system. These are known as hybrid inverters. DC power produced by your solar panels is used to charge the battery. From there, the power is passed through the hybrid inverter, which converts the power into AC electricity. Then, the AC power can be either used in your home or business or go to the grid.

 

DC Coupling could be a great option for you if you’ve had your solar system for some time and your inverter is approaching the end of its expected life. Most string inverters last fifteen years, so replacing your inverter a little earlier with one that works with a battery could be to your benefit.

  1. AC Coupled System: The next option, an AC Coupled System, uses your traditional inverter in addition to a second inverter, or a “storage inverter,” that charges the battery. DC power produced by your panels goes to the inverter and is converted to AC power as it always has. From there, the inverter sends it to your building if you’re using electricity, to your battery if you’re producing more electricity than you’re using, or to the grid if your battery is fully charged. Typically easier to install, AC Coupling offers flexibility in terms of location, works with a variety of inverters, and is likely to be a lower-cost option. However, it is slightly less efficient. Electricity stored on the grid and used in your home is AC, but batteries store DC power. For the battery to provide the power you can use in your home or business, it must then be converted to AC power. This extra step causes more energy to be lost compared to DC Coupling.

Adding Solar Panels to an existing Solar system

It is important to note how many additional solar panels will be required as this affects the system design and the cost of the upgrade. We can assess to be able to determine how many additional panels you will need given your current energy consumption situation

What to consider before adding Solar Panels to your existing system

  1. Unshaded space on your roof for rooftop solar or large space on your property for additional panels to be mounted on the ground
  2. Solar Panel compatibility. It is important to install the same type as the original array if possible. This ensures everything will match, and has the same power outputs and efficiencies as the rest of the panels. However, if you are unable to install the exact panels, lookout for panels with similar power output to avoid damaging the existing array

Inverter replacement

Depending on how much more new capacity you add to your system, you may need to replace your inverter. When an installer sizes your central inverter, it’s based on the power output of your panels. Because the direct current (DC) electricity being produced by your panels is being converted to alternating current (AC) at the inverter, the power rating of that inverter can be a bit smaller than the panels because of the energy loss that occurs during the conversion process. If you’re adding quite a few panels and your entire solar panel system is much larger than the original size, it may generate more electricity than your pre-existing inverter can handle.

Add-on projects are a bit easier if your original solar panel system uses microinverters as opposed to a power optimizer or string inverter system. Because microinverters are located at each panel, you don’t have to worry about inverter capacity issues and can just install additional microinverters with the new panels.

Looking to expand your Solar Power System, we can assist you to make the right decision for your home or business with the most viable of the available options after a critical and professional assessment of your situation

 

Ref: Solar Market

Solar Panel Efficiency: what you need to know !

Solar panel efficiency is a measurement of a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Given the same amount of sunlight shining for the same time on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel. Solar panel efficiency is determined by the production of electricity by solar cells, which is in turn influenced by the cells’ composition, electrical configuration, surrounding components, and more.

How efficient are solar panels?

Most solar panels are between 15% and 20% efficient, with outliers on either side of the range. High-quality solar panels can exceed 22% efficiency in some cases (and almost reach 23%!), but the majority of photovoltaic panels available are not above 20% efficiency.

How solar panel efficiency differs by product

Given the same amount of sunlight shining for the same time on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel. Solar panel efficiency is determined by the production of electricity by solar cells, which are in turn influenced by composition, electrical configuration, surrounding components, and more.

In practical terms, for two solar panels of the same physical size, if one has a 21% efficiency rating and the other has a 14% efficiency rating, the 21% efficient panel will produce 50% more kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity under the same conditions as the 14% efficient panel. Thus, maximizing energy use and bill savings heavily rely on top-tier solar panel efficiency.

What determines solar panel efficiency?

Several factors determine how efficient a solar panel is. At its core, solar panel efficiency is determined by how much incoming sunlight the solar panel can convert into usable electricity. But what factors into that end conversion rate? There are several items that solar cell researchers and manufacturers consider when designing and producing efficient solar panels:

  • Material – the type of material (monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, etc.) impacts how light converts to electricity
  • Wiring and busing – the organization of wires and “busbars” on a solar panel that capture and transfer electricity impacts efficiency
  • Reflection – if the light is reflected away from a solar panel, its efficiency may be lowered. This is why the glass layer on top of silicon solar cells is so important.

Additionally, factors like being able to absorb light on both sides of a cell (bifacial solar panels) and being able to absorb variable wavelengths of light (multijunction solar pan.0els) change the efficiency equation for solar panels. All in all, there is a multitude of levers that scientists and researchers can pull when working on improving solar panel efficiency. Ultimately, it’s all about converting more incoming sunlight into electricity.

Can I Add Batteries to Your Existing Solar System? YES

For years, batteries have been a way to store excess power for solar systems. But until recently, due to their high cost and low efficiencies, they only made sense for a few, mostly off-grid solar systems. However, as battery prices continue to decline and batteries themselves become more and more effective, they are growing into a viable option for many grid-tied solar systems as well.

If you installed your system a few years ago, batteries may not have made sense. But as the market changes and technology advances, you may find yourself wishing you could take advantage of energy storage.

If you’re wondering whether or not you can install batteries in your existing solar system, the answer is yes! There are several ways you can integrate battery power into your existing solar system.

How Do Solar Batteries Work?

Before we get into your options for adding batteries to your system, we want to quickly go over how batteries work.

As the sun shines, your solar panels collect the energy and turn it into DC electricity. The electricity is then sent to your inverter, which converts that power into AC electricity – the form you can use in your home or business. As your system produces energy, it’s used to power your lights, appliances, and devices. But what happens when your system produces more electricity than you use?

If you install a battery, here’s where it would come in. When you’re using more electricity than your solar system is producing, you can draw on energy stored in a battery, instead of drawing it from the grid.

Adding a Battery to Your Existing Solar System

In most cases, adding a battery to an existing grid-tied solar system is possible, however, the level of difficulty is dependent on whether or not your system was designed to do so. Here are the ways to install a battery in your existing solar system.

Storage-Ready Solar System

Best-case scenario, you knew you’d eventually want to install batteries and planned for it when having your system installed. Maybe you were waiting for prices to drop or wanted to keep the upfront investment during installation as low as possible. Either way, you prepared yourself for the future. Your inverter is ready for the installation of a battery when it makes financial sense to you. This is the cheapest and easiest option, requiring less labor and materials than the other two options.

If you did not install a storage-ready system, there are two main ways to integrate your battery into your system – DC Coupled and AC Coupled.

DC Coupled System

With a DC Coupled System, your inverter will be replaced by one that works with a battery and a solar system. These are known as hybrid inverters. DC power produced by your solar panels is used to charge the battery. From there, the power is passed through the hybrid inverter, which converts the power into AC electricity. Then, the AC power can be either used in your home or business or go to the grid.

DC Coupling Battery

 

If you go this route, your system will lose less of the energy produced by your panels during the conversion process.  This is because power is only going from DC to AC, whereas in an AC Coupled System (explained next), all energy stored in the battery goes from AC to DC (to charge the battery) and back to AC again.  However, this option will likely cost more upfront due to the cost of the inverter and more involved labor.

DC Coupling could be a great option for you if you’ve had your solar system for some time and your inverter is approaching the end of its expected life.  Most string inverters last fifteen years, so replacing your inverter a little earlier with one that works with a battery could be to your benefit.

AC Coupled System

The next option, an AC Coupled System, uses your traditional inverter in addition to a second inverter, or a “storage inverter,” that charges the battery.  DC power produced by your panels goes to the inverter and is converted to AC power as it always has. From there, the inverter sends it to your building if you’re using electricity, to your battery if you’re producing more electricity than you’re using, or to the grid if your battery is fully charged.

DC Coupling Battery

Typically easier to install, AC Coupling offers flexibility in terms of location, works with a variety of inverters, and is likely to be a lower-cost option.  However, it is slightly less efficient. Electricity stored on the grid and used in your home is AC, but batteries store DC power. For the battery to provide the power you can use in your home or business, it must then be converted to AC power.  This extra step causes more energy to be lost compared to DC Coupling.

Source: https://www.paradisesolarenergy.com

Myth-busters: solar energy

Solar power is amongst these often maligned energy sources, with numerous misconceptions about how it works. Never fear, All in Trade myth-busters are here to help clear up three of the top myths about solar:

Myth 1: Solar only works when the sun is out

A common misconception about solar energy is that it only works when the sun is out. The sun’s ultraviolet light is all that solar power needs to create energy. Solar panels will create heaps of the stuff during foggy and overcast days too, as the UV light still manages to shine through. Perhaps surprisingly, solar panels are more efficient at cooler temperatures than hot ones. Take Germany for example not a traditional destination for sun-seekers. Yet back in June of 2014, more than 50% of Germany’s electricity demand was met by 23.1 gigawatts of solar power– which was half of the entire world’s production at the time. Germany is set to continue holding one of the top spots for solar production globally – it hasn’t let a cloudy day get in the way.

Myth 2: Solar panels can’t withstand extreme weather conditions

It snows, its rains, it hails; can solar panels withstand all of that? Solar panels are sturdy and made to last a long time in various weather conditions. American solar panel manufacturer Solar World conducts tough tests to make sure the panels are ready for the world. The company starts by dropping half a kilo, 2.54cm steel balls onto solar panels from a height of 4.2 meters. This process is repeated up to 20 times in the same place on at least 11 different points of impact. They then drop heavy or hard objects onto the panel to ensure stability and break-resistance – including a 45kg lead-filled sack from a height of 1.2 meters right into the middle of the panel! After this, the solar panels are put into a climate room that emulates 25 years of weather changes. In the chamber, the panels manage to withstand temperatures as low as -40°c to as high as 85°c. They may sound like torture from the middle ages but these tests are needed to make sure solar panels survive in various environments.

Myth 3: Using solar energy is too expensive, I’ll never get my investment back

Throughout Europe, there are misconceptions about how much solar panels cost and the return on investment. UK-based solar power comparison site, The Eco Website, states that 2/3 of consumers don’t know how much solar panels cost. The cost of panels has been tumbling and is set to continue this downward spiral. Oxford University researchers found that, since the 1980s, panels have gotten 10% cheaper each year and this is likely to continue. Falling solar power costs mean that in 2016 the typical return on investment for solar panels is 4.8% over 20 years. Not only are solar panels getting cheaper but they can also be a nice little earner, which means better summer holidays for all.

 

Source: https://social-innovation.hitachi

Grid Tied Vs Off grid Solar

Grid-Tied Solar System

What is a Grid Tied Solar System?

A Grid Tied, also called an On-grid Solar system, is connected to the public electricity grid, does not need batteries, and uses either solar inverters or micro-inverters. The excess power produced is exported to the grid during solar power generation. At night, when your solar system does not produce electricity, your home draws electricity from the grid

Pros

Reduction in monthly electricity bills since you are still connected to the grid

Cons

You are still prone to power blackouts. This is because on-grid systems are unable to generate electricity during a blackout due to safety reasons

Note: For on-grid systems, a battery backup can be added to the system at a later stage if needed.

Off-grid Solar System

What is a Grid Tied Solar System?

An off-grid also known as a Standalone Solar system is not connected to the electricity grid. Therefore, the excess electricity is stored in a battery from where you draw your power at night when the solar panel is producing less electricity. Off-grid solar systems must be designed appropriately to generate enough power throughout the year and have enough battery capacity to meet the home’s requirements.

Off-grid systems are usually the best option for remote areas since the cost of extending the public grid is extremely highly

Pros

With or without the public grid, the off-grid system can power your property at all times

If you want to achieve energy independence, Off-grid systems are the way to go

Cons

It is more expensive since it requires the addition of batteries for backup

Grid-tied systems store energy in the power grid, while off-grid systems store energy in batteries.

Rooftop Solar Vs Ground Mount Solar

Rooftop solar or Ground mount solar? Which is the best for me?

Solar Panel Installations can be done in different ways depending on various factors. At All in Trade Limited, we install Roof top solar systems and Ground mount solar systems. Both options are good. All you have to do is choose the option that meets your specific requirements

What is a Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System?

Rooftop solar is a system of solar panels placed on top of roofs of commercial, institutional or residential buildings to capture the light energy emitted by the sun and convert it into electrical energy.

Pros of Rooftop Solar Systems

  • The energy produced is clean and environmentally friendly
  • Utilizes space that otherwise wouldn’t be
  • Does not require a large property to be installed on since it’s on the rooftop
  • Lower installation costs
  • Can shield your roof from certain elements
  • Adds value to your property

Cons of Rooftop Solar Systems

  • If your roof is old, you may require a new one before installation
  • Not suitable for shaded roofs

What is a Ground mounted Solar PV System?

A Ground mounted solar PV system is a system of solar panels that are mounted on the ground on your property, rather than on the roof of your house. These capture the light energy emitted by the sun and convert it into electrical energy. The difference is that they are installed on the ground, in an open space rather than on top of your roof.

Pros of Ground Mount Solar System

  • The energy produced is clean and environmentally friendly
  • Can be installed to face any direction
  • Requires no modification to the house structure
  • Easy to access in case of maintenance
  • Can install a fairly large system if you have plenty of space
  • The property on which the panels are installed can be used for other activities such as farming

Cons of Ground Mount Solar System

  • It may require large property
  • Higher Installation costs

Rooftop or Ground Mount Solar?

Roof Top solar is the commonest type of solar installation for homeowners or businesses choosing to go solar. However, ground-mount solar is equally good and can provide several advantages over rooftop solar.

If you have plenty of unshaded roof space, rooftop solar installation is likely going to be the best, cheapest option. If your available roof space is limited but has plenty of unshaded property, a ground mount system might be suitable

Wondering which type of Solar installation is best for you, always work with a qualified installer to assess the condition of your property and help you make an informed decision

Solar Powered Water Pumps! What you should know

Solar Powered Water Pumps

What is a Solar Powered Water Pump

A Solar water pump is an electrical pump in which electricity is generated by Solar PV systems. Solar water pumps are environmentally friendly because they are powered by the sun.

Application

Solar Water Pumps meet a broad range of needs including crop irrigation, livestock watering, and domestic use.

Types of Solar Water Pumps

There are two types of Solar Water pumps namely the Submersible water pumps and Surface water pumps

Submersible Solar/DC Pumps

Lift to 650 feet and fit in a 4″ or larger well casing. Submersible solar pumps are used when the water supply is more than 20 feet from the surface. They can operate directly off solar panels, batteries, or in some cases an AC power source.

Surface Solar/DC Pumps

Good for applications with shallow wells, ponds, streams, or storage tanks. Best if the water supply is 20 feet or less from the surface. Used primarily for solar water heating applications. These solar pumps run directly from a small solar panel. No battery is required.

Sizing and designing a Solar Water Pumping System

This depends on many factors including;

  • How much water do you need
  • When you need the water
  • Is your water source a stream, pond spring, or well?
  • Water available in gallons per minute
  • Depth of the well
  • How far the water needs to be pumped and with what elevation gain
  • Water quality problems like silt or high mineral content that may damage the pump
  • How much volume is available in storage tanks and how the tanks are arranged

Advantages of Solar Water Pumps

  • Solar water pumps are environmentally friendly since they are powered by the sun
  • Because they are powered by the sun, they work perfectly in remote areas where there’s no access to the national grid
  • You don’t need to pay a ton of money each time you use your solar water pump. There are no cumulative electricity bills since the system is powered by the sun
  • Solar water pumps as easier to maintain compared to conventional pumps.
  • Solar water pumps work efficiently while saving you a ton of money.

 

Which Type of Solar Water Pump is suitable for me?

The type of solar water pumping system you need will depend on the water source. If the source is a borehole (proposed or existing) or deep well, then a submersible pump that fits the borehole or well will be suitable. If the water source is a river, then a surface pump is recommended. If the water resource is a shallow well, pond, or lake, then either a surface or floating pump may be selected.

An All In Trade expert system designer can help you select the suitable Solar Water Pumping System during the site visit.

Need a  Solar Powered Water Pump? Talk to our experienced Solar Experts to get started

 

 

Solar Food Drying: Using the Sun to Dry Foods

The harvest of summer’s fruits and vegetables is in full swing. It’s a perfect time to think of drying the abundance of these foods. Drying food is a great way to make fresh foods last longer. Harnessing the power of the sun to aid in drying food is not only a planet-friendly method of food preservation but also a time-honored tradition that has been used for centuries.

What is Solar Food Drying?

Much like the name sounds, solar food drying involves using the sun to dry out foods. This can be something as simple as setting a plate of food outside and letting the sun dry it or something as elaborate as building your system that acts to protect the food from dust, debris, and pests, while the food is drying. Depending on the conditions in your location, it takes an average of two sunny days to dehydrate food in a solar food dehydrator.

Why Dehydrate Food?

Many people wonder, why dehydrate food? The truth is that there are many benefits, some more obvious than others, to drying food.

Preppers, or people who make a point of preparing for rough days that may lie ahead, like dehydrated food because it lasts a long time, is easy to store and it’s highly portable.

Environmentalists, or people who are interested in saving the planet, have different reasons to appreciate the benefits of dehydrating foods, including the following:

  • Requires less energy than freezing or canning.
  • Not susceptible to power outages.
  • Creates a concentrated product that requires fewer containers and less storage space than the original products.

Then there are the people who are fans of the power of fruits and vegetables. They understand that drying foods create foods that retain more nutrients than traditional methods of preservation, and the process of drying foods can serve to improve food’s flavor.

Why Solar Dehydration?

There are other methods available for dehydrating foods. Knowing this, why are people so committed to solar food drying?

To begin with, there’s the cost factor. The sun shines free – even on days when you wish it would find a cloud or so to hide behind. That brings the operating costs of drying foods with solar power to zero, once you’ve built the environment in which you’ll do the drying.

Even the costs of building your solar food dryer can be mitigated by purchasing supplies from a surplus building supply or Habitat for Humanity store. This helps the planet by giving new life to old building materials and can save a bundle on supplies.

Another cost factor to consider involves savings over the costs of other preserving methods, like freezing and canning. Freezing fruits, vegetables, and meats is an effective way of preserving them to use later, but it incurs a monthly cost for operating your freezer – not to mention the risk of losing the food in your freezer, in the event of a power outage or equipment malfunction.

Canning often requires long cooking times at high heat in order to properly preserve and store the fruits or vegetables, while preventing spoilage. This uses up precious fossil fuels and makes the inside of homes, if you’re canning your foods inside, uncomfortably warm – causing air conditioners to work even harder to keep up.

Then, there’s the simple fact that it’s easy to do and requires very little participation on your part once you set the wheels in motion. Since it often takes two full days to properly dry food, it frees up your time in the meantime to devote to other things. You don’t have to stand over it and watch it like a hawk to make it happen.

What Kinds of Foods can be Dried?

Drying food is quite versatile and offers endless possibilities when it comes to fruits and vegetables and, to a lesser extent meats, though the USDA discourages the practice of meats.

Fruit

Most people think of food drying in the terms of drying fruits or even making leather from fruit. These make great snacks and are fun to experiment with. Then there is the added versatility in that once the fruit is dried it can be rehydrated at a later date by soaking it in fruit juice or water and then used for making jams and syrups, in sauces, and for baking.

Vegetables

Before drying vegetables, they need to be blanched. This will stop enzyme activity and aids in killing off any microorganisms on the vegetables. Beans are some of the best foods for drying, including lima beans and snap beans, but other foods that dry well include:

  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Parsley
  • Onions (strong odor when drying)
  • Garlic
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets

There are more than just these, too. If there is a vegetable your family loves and eats in abundant supply, there is likely to be a method of drying it for later use.

Meat

Meat is somewhat controversial among food drying experts, even though people have been doing it for centuries. Because of the potential for illness, it’s important to make sure you get solid training on how to properly dry meat if it’s something you’re interested in. The most common method of drying meat is by turning it into jerky. You can make jerky of almost any meat, including fish, deer, beef, pork, and more.

How to Use the Sun to Dry Food?

Successfully drying foods depends on two primary things: temperature and airflow. The primary goal is to keep air temperatures low enough to avoid cooking the food or causing it to crust while maintaining enough warm air to discourage the activation of enzymes that would otherwise begin the spoiling process. The target temperature is typically between 120 and 185 degrees. Airflow is also important, as it helps to create balance in the drying process.

Before you begin, you should prepare your food by blanching or steaming the vegetables. While this is a relatively new thought when it comes to drying food, it is designed to prevent spoilage and rot.

Cut food into thin slices, less than one-half inch thick, and spread them out over the drying trays, allowing plenty of room for air to move around the individual pieces of fruit or vegetable.

Add trays to the solar food dryer, and rotate 180 degrees each day until the food is completely dried. This helps to create a uniform drying process.

Proper Storage of Sun-Dried Foods

Allow dehydrated foods to cool completely before attempting to store them. Dried food should be stored in airtight jars or plastic containers in dark spaces. Fruits should have layers of paper between them to prevent them from sticking to one another.

When done properly, solar food drying provides families with the opportunity to enjoy their favorite fruits and vegetables throughout the year, whether safely at home or on the go.

What do you know about Solar water Heaters ?

Solar water heaters are a great way to generate hot water for your home, hotel, or apartment without spending a fortune on electricity bills. Why? These use sunlight to fuel the heating process. In other words, nature is paying your electricity bills.

How the Solar Water Heater works

The Solar water system captures thermal energy from the sun that it uses to heat water

A Solar hot water system is composed of 4 major components

  1. Collector

These are installed on the roof. They capture sunlight and convert it to heat energy

  1. Heat transfer liquid

These carry the heat from solar collectors to water tanks.

  1. Storage Tank

These store hot water when it is not in use

  1. Controller System

This is the most important part of a solar hot water system. It senses when there is heat to be harvested from the collector and activates the pump to bring that down into the tank where it can be used

  1. Backup Heater

The backup heater operates on cloudy days when it’s difficult to generate enough heat. It, therefore, provides backup to generate hot water for your property with electricity.

There are 2 categories of Solar water heaters.

  1. Active Solar Water Heaters

Direct circulation systems: 

Pumps circulate household water through the collector and into the home

Pros: Automatic controllers installed on the system sense when sunlight is being collected.
Cons: Best for areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. Only works for single-application domestic use.

Indirect circulation systems:

Pumps circulate a non-freezing, heat transfer liquid through the collector and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home

Pros: Still functions in freezing temperatures. Suitable for multiple solar heating applications
Cons: Can be more expensive than direct circulation systems.

  1. Passive Solar Water Heating Systems

Integral collector-storage passive systems:

These require cold water to be pumped into the solar collector in batches

Pros: They work well in households with significant daytime and evening hot-water needs.
Cons: Best in areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing but overall can be less effective.

Thermosyphon systems:

Water flows through the system when the water rises as cooler water sinks. The collector must be installed below the storage tank so that water will rise into the tank

Pros: Reliable system.
Cons: Contractors must pay careful attention to the roof design because of the heavy storage tank. Can be more expensive than integral collector-storage systems.

Sizing your solar water heating system involves determining the total collector area as well as the storage volume you’ll need to meet your household’s hot water needs

Ref: Energy.gov

Which is the best Solar Inverter for my Solar PV system?

One of the most important things to consider before installing a Solar PV system is selecting the right type of solar inverter. Inverters convert direct current (DC) energy generated by your solar system into usable alternating current (AC) energy. The Inverter is one of the most essential elements of a solar PV system as it determines the amount of energy to be sent to the property on which it is installed. Also, an inverter can easily detect a problem on your system if any and increases the efficiency of your system.

What are the different types of inverters?

There are mainly three different types of inverters available for solar energy systems

  1. String Inverters

A string inverter is a central inverter with inputs for “strings” of panels to be run into a single unit. Panels are wired together in series, and the end of the chain plugs into the inverter. Note though,  if one panel is obstructed with shading, all the other panels in the string will be affected too, and the efficiency will drop

String inverters are ideal for both residential and commercial purposes as long as they have full exposure to the sun (no obstruction), and are by far the most affordable option

  1. Microinverters

A micro-inverter is an inverter that pairs with a single solar panel to manage the DC-to-AC power inversion for that individual panel. The conversion of the DC to AC takes place in each inverter connected to each panel. Each panel can function independently to produce electricity therefore shading on one panel will not affect the efficiency of the rest of the panels.

 

  1. Power Optimizers

Like micro-inverters, power optimizers are devices located at each panel. However, instead of converting the DC electricity to AC electricity at the panel site, they send it to a string inverter

Power optimizers give you the option to track the production from every single panel allowing you to detect underperformance and shading issues per panel

Choosing the right Inverter for your solar PV system comes down to your project requirements. An All in Trade Consultant can help you select an inverter that matches your requirements. Contact us to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

 

Solar Panels for Commercial Systems

Solar panels are the primary part of a solar power system. They make up the largest component of the cost of a system and are the primary contributor to performance.

All in Trade Limited has access to the entire solar panel market and is not tied to any particular brand or manufacturer. We will recommend the best solar panels for our commercial customers and provide you with our reasoning. Here is an insight into how we go about selecting solar panels to recommend to our clients:

Solar Panel Assessment Criteria

  1. World-Class System Performance Modelling

    All in Trade Limited utilizes industry-leading solar simulation software PVSyst to model system performance data from hundreds of solar panel specifications in conditions local to Uganda/East Africa. This provides us with a shortlist of panels.

  2. Only “Tier 1” brand-name Solar manufacturers

    Be wary if a solar retailer does not specify the panels to be supplied. You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing the manufacturer and the model and solar is no different. There is a lot of information on panels made by the world’s leading solar panel manufacturers. Large-scale solar farms around the world only source solar panels from large “Tier 1” solar manufacturers and there are many reasons for that.

Brands

The biggest mistake anyone can make when considering a solar system is that all solar panels are created equal. There is a significant difference in the quality, reliability, and durability of solar panels on the market.

An All in Trade Consultant can help you select a solar panel that matches your requirements in terms of budget and system performance. Contact us to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

How Does Solar Battery Storage Work?

The popularity of solar power has led to the rise of another renewable technology: solar batteries that can store extra solar power for later use. Companies like Tesla are developing batteries that can be installed with solar panels to create “solar-plus-storage” systems for your home.

A solar battery is a battery that stores energy from a solar PV system. The system’s panels absorb energy from the sun and convert it to electricity which then passes through the inverter for your home to use. A battery is an additional component that can allow you to store energy produced from your solar panels and use the energy at a later time, such as in the evening when your panels are no longer producing energy.

Solar batteries for home explained

To appreciate why you might choose to install a solar-plus-storage system for your home, you first need to understand how a standard home solar PV system functions.

The typical solar energy system includes solar panels, an inverter, equipment to mount the panels on your roof, and a performance monitoring system that tracks electricity production. The solar panels collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity, which is passed through the inverter and converted into a form that you can use to power your home.

The vast majority of residential solar energy systems are connected to the electricity grid (or “grid-tied”). When your panels are producing more electricity than your home needs, the excess is fed back into the power grid. Conversely, when your home needs more electricity than your solar panels are producing, you can draw power from the electric grid.

In most cases, you receive a credit on your utility bill for the electricity you send back to the grid. Later, when you are using more electricity than your solar panels have generated, you can use those credits instead of having to pay more to your utility. This process is known as net metering.

How Does Solar Battery Storage Work?

As mentioned previously, excess energy from your solar PV system is deposited into the battery. This means that the energy surplus can be stored in it and is readily onsite for you to draw from when your solar panels aren’t generating enough electricity.

When choosing the type of battery to use for energy storage, consider the following:

  1. Battery life and warranty
  2. Power capacity
  3. Depth of discharge (DoD)

A battery’s lifespan is generally somewhere from five to 15 years, although it is expected to increase significantly to keep up with the growth of solar panels through the years. Warranties for batteries are generally stated in years or cycles, for example, Victron energy has a warranty of 2 years.

The power capacity refers to the total amount of electricity that the battery can keep. Solar batteries are usually stackable, meaning you can have multiple battery storages at home to increase capacity.

The DoD measures the degree to which a battery can be used relative to its total capacity. If a battery has a 100% DoD it means you can use the full battery storage amount (e.g. 2.5kWh) to power your home. If a battery has a 94% DoD, it means you can use up to 94% of the battery capacity (e.g. for a 2.5kWh battery, you can use down to 2.35kWh before the battery needs to charge again).

Common Solar Battery Types

  1. Lithium Ion

 For the most reliable lifespan and DoD, your best choice for your home battery would be Lithium-ion. The majority of new home battery storage uses this technology, as they have a longer lifespan and higher DoD. Lithium-ion batteries are also more compact, although they’re more expensive compared to lead-acid batteries. Examples of lithium-ion batteries include the sonnenBatterie, LG Chem Resu, and Tesla Powerwall.

  1. Lead-acid

Lead acid batteries have been used for decades and are one of the cheapest varieties in home energy storage for off-grid power systems. The downfall to buying this type of technology is that it is becoming outdated and has a lower DoD compared to other battery types.

Conclusion

It’s that simple! Solar batteries capture excess solar power and allow for that power to be used when it’s most beneficial for the homeowner, like during an outage or to take advantage of additional electric bill savings. Speak with one of our Energy Advisors to see your customized solar and battery system!

SOLAR ENERGY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FAQ

Below we have developed a list of frequently asked questions about solar installations to help guide you in making the most accurate decision for your renewable energy needs.

How can I tell how my system is performing?

Every building contains a power meter telling you exactly how much electricity you generate and use, and when you are sending power back to the utility grid. If a grid tied system produces more power than the appliances in the building are using then the meter will spin backwards. AIT also offers a system monitoring device and service with every installation.

A data monitoring card is installed in the inverter providing real-time, web-based feed of system production. This data card allows for detailed monitoring with better than +/- 5% accuracy. The monitor card detects system interruption and data glitches while feeding instant email alerts to programmers, allowing them to maintain constant vigilance of installations and immediately dispatch an alert. System data/performance can be accessed through a high-speed internet connection and provides you with current weather conditions, AC output, lifetime kilowatt hours, system offsets/efficiency, and daily kilowatt hours produced. The AIT solar monitoring system also shows environmental offsets as a result of the system in tangible terms such as CO2 offset, trees saved and waste recycled rather than land-filled.

What is the difference between crystalline and thin film PV panels?

Crystalline Silicon (c-Si)cells are wafer thin slices of silicon crystals. There are two types: monocrystalline silicon cells are cut from a single uniform crystal and multicrystalline/Polycrystalline Silicon are cut from multifaceted crystals. There are three main types of thin film technologies commercially available today: Amorphous Silicon (a-Si), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) and Copper, Indium, Gallium, Serenade (CIGS). The technologies listed in order of power density are: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Crystalline modules are more expensive to manufacture and require rigid framing to support their fragility, while thin film modules consume far less resources and can be applied to a variety (including flexible) surfaces.

My region is prone to high winds, Is PV safe for my area?

Yes. Advanced Green Technologies can help you determine which type of system is best for your high wind zone risks.

What are the components of a PV system?

The typical components of a grid tied PV system include PV modules, an inverter, associated wiring, a combiner box, safety disconnecting switches and an interconnecting circuit breaker to tie the PV system to the existing electrical system. The PV module is the basis of the system. The number of PV modules determines the amount of power that will be produced by the system. An array is the arrangement of numerous PV modules. The modules are connected together in series to form groups called strings. String size, the number of modules connected together in series, is used to determine the DC voltage. The combiner box is used to take the paralleled strings and combine them into a single output to send to the inverter. The inverter’s function is converting the DC power, or Direct Current, into usable AC power, or Alternating Current. An inverter’s name plate rating is determined by the amount of power that it is able to output. A 5kW inverter is able to output a maximum of 5,000 W.

What does photovoltaic mean?

The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic technologies work. The word has two parts: photo, meaning light, and volt, a unit of measurement for electricity. . Thus photovoltaic literally means light-electricity.

What is a solar tracker?

These are generally deployed on ground-mounted utility-scale farms and are designed to follow the sun’s path during the day and through the different seasons to capture the maximum amount of sun. A tracker increases the annual production of a PV system at the cost of additional system complexity.

What is the lifespan of a PV system?

The PV cells themselves will work indefinitely and produce electricity as long as they have contact with sunlight. Manufacturers provide a twenty five year warranties on most products, however system owners report their systems continue production past the determined twenty five year lifespan.

What maintenance does the system require?

Your system should go years, even decades, without problems. We recommend that the installer conduct a system check once a year, just to ensure everything is performing as it should. Otherwise, you can clean the modules two or three times a year with water to rid it of dust and debris. If your system includes batteries, they may need to be replaced every five to ten years.

Will my roof’s warranty be affected by a solar installation?

No, as long as you use a certified roofer, your roof’s warranty will be carried over. But be wary of contracting an uncertified/untrained individual to install your solar system. Besides making engineering and electrical mistakes, if a roof leak or issue occurs after installation your roofer may not be liable for warranty or inspection if your roof experienced a faulty solar installation. All AIT authorized roofing contractors are certified to install solar systems as per our training programs.

Will my system work on cloudy days?

Yes, your system will work on cloudy days, but it will produce less electricity. Through an overcast sky, panels produce approximately half as much as under full sun.

If you have any questions we did not answer, please contact us today and we will be happy to help you. We have friendly solar experts standing by ready to help.

 

Source: https://www.agt.com/resources/solar-faq/

 

Myth busters: wind energy

There’re lots of misconceptions out there about wind energy. From its cost to whether it’s actually harmful to the environment, we take a look at the top 3 myths.

The growth of wind farms across Europe is significant.

This increased use has led to its profile being raised. However, not all the stories are true and there’s a lot of hot air being circulated, so here we clear up some of the myths…

Myth 1: Wind energy doesn’t make that much of an impact on emissions

Wind is a renewable source of energy. When operating, a wind turbine does not produce any pollutants or emissions. The University of Edinburgh in Scotland has found that power generated by wind farms “prevented the creation of almost 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal and gas, in a six-year period.” It went on to explain that this is equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

Myth 2: Wind power is really expensive

There are two elements to this – firstly, the cost of putting up the wind turbine and secondly, the cost to the consumer. On average the cost of construction for a wind turbine is fully recuperated in 3 to 6 months, and from then on operational costs are minimal. As for cost to the consumer, Wind Europe claims that wind energy is one of the cheapest forms of energy and it is certainly the most cost-effective climate change mitigation technology. In 2014, the impact of onshore wind subsidies on bills in the UK was less than 10 pence a day for the average household. These subsidies are set to disappear from April 2019, so the reality is that wind power is nowhere near as expensive as some people think. More importantly, wind power is likely to become even more efficient in the coming years.

Myth 3: Wind turbines are as loud as helicopters

There’s not really much to say about this other than, they aren’t! Although wind turbines are not totally silent, you would have to be within a couple of hundred metres, and not have any other surrounding noise, to be able to hear them. Most wind turbines are at least 300 meters away from residential properties. At this distance, the sound will be around 43 decibels. The average fridge, babbling brook or computer all run at about 40 decibels. A typical library is also around 40 decibels.  Conversely, a helicopter at 30 metres altitude is about 100 decibels which is 64 times as loud!

So, from now on, when you hear someone talking about how wind energy isn’t actually great for the environment or it’s too expensive or unbearably loud, you’ll have the real facts to bust that myth!

Source: https://social-innovation.hitachi

New Solar Technology: Insolight panels use lenses to concentrate light 200 times

Insolight, a Swiss startup, has taken a different tack – embedding a grid of hexagonal lenses in a solar panel’s protective glass, thus concentrating light 200 times.

To follow the sun’s motion, the cell array shifts horizontally by a few millimetres throughout the day. It is a bid to make concentrated solar cheap.

“The architecture of these conventional concentrated photovoltaics is very costly. What we’ve done is miniaturise the sun tracking mechanism and integrate it within the module,” says Insolight’s chief business officer David Schuppisser.

“We’ve done it in a cheaper way [that] you can deploy anywhere you can deploy a conventional solar panel,” he says.

The Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s solar energy institute measured Insolight’s current model as having an efficiency of 29%. It is now working on a module that is hoped to reach 32% efficiency.

Current silicon technology is not quite dead, though, and there are approaches to make tiny, quick wins in efficiency. One is to add an extra layer to a cell’s back to reflect unabsorbed light back through it a second time. This improves efficiency by 1-2%.

Another is to add an outside layer, which lessens losses that occur where silicon touches the metal contacts. It’s only a “small tweak”, says Xiaojing Sun, a solar analyst Wood Mackenzie research – adding 0.5-1% in efficiency – but she says these changes mean manufacturers only need to make small alterations to their production lines.

From such small gains – to the use of concentrated solar and perovskites – solar tech is in a race to raise efficiency and push down costs.

“Spanning this magical number 30%, this is where the solar cell industry could really make a very big difference,” says Swift Solar’s Max Hoerantner.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51799503

All in Trade Limited has been selected for the Youth Sustainable Energy Hub

We are excited to announce that our innovation of e-backpack-education project was selected as one of the 98 youth initiatives for the Youth Sustainable Energy Hub (YSEH) from around the world. The Youth Sustainable Energy Hub is a flagship project developed by SDG7 Youth Constituency in partnership with the world’s leading energy and climate change organizations. It is the first of its kind global platform showcasing the work of youth practitioners in the sustainable energy sector.

What is the All in Trade ‘e-backpack-education’ project?

All in Trade Limited will partner with Child protection activists with an intention to develop a special school backpack “e-backpack” for school going children which will be equipped with solar energy powered equipment’s such as; tablet, reading light, tracking device and phone/tablet charging system.

The main objective of this e-backpack-education project is to combat issues of social injustice such (child sacrifice, kidnaps, defilement, racial discrimination..), as well as encouraging and promoting e-learning, and home schooling as a response to COVID-19 pandemic schools closure, open conservation, open literacy ,online education and enhancement in the reading culture for those who are not connected to the national grid. The pilot project will mainly focus on Wakiso district in the initial stages with possibility of scaling up to other regions depending on availability of funding and success of the project.

The Youth Sustainable Energy Hub presents a platform to;

-Showcase the work of youth practitioners on all levels (local, national, regional and global) in the sustainable energy sector on a global platform

-Promote skills and knowledge building for youth to become effective agents for change in their communities

-Share best practices and lessons learnt from implemented projects to inspire youth in the sustainable energy sector

-Demonstrate how young people contribute to the implementation, monitoring and review of SDG7 and its associated targets and indicators

-We appreciate YSEH for this platform as we work to resolve some of the biggest challenges in the education system with sustainable solutions

About Us

All in Trade Limited is a private Ugandan registered company incorporated in November 2008, dealing in provision and maintenance of Reliable and Affordable Solar Energy Systems, Power Backup Systems, Electrical Services, Wind Energy systems, Power Protection Systems and other renewable energy solutions to the population of Uganda and the neighbouring East African Countries.

We basically focus on design, supply, installation and maintenance for domestic, commercial and Industrial purposes. All in Trade Limited has proved to be one of the best and competent renewable energy companies in Uganda because of our ability and consistency in the provision of high-quality products and services at affordable prices and the willingness to serve our customers with utmost diligence.

 

 

UGANDAN ENTREPRENEUR WINS GREEN CLIMATE FUND (GCF) AWARDS FOR EXPANDING RENEWABLE ENERGY

Businessman Muhammed Lubowa, has become a Climate Entrepreneur during the first GCF Green Champions Awards for his resourcefulness in increasing the uptake of renewable power in Uganda and neighboring nations

Madrid.- Ugandan Entrepreneur Muhammed Lubowa is now a Transformational Country Champion after winning one of the first GCF Green Champions Awards. The awards were announced on December 5th in Madrid, Spain during the major climate change meeting of the year, COP25.

Mr Lubowa is one of six award winners chosen among 280 entries from countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, South Pacific and North America. The inaugural GCF Green Champions Awards are designed to show it is possible to make a difference in overcoming the challenge of climate change. They focus on achievements by individuals and organisations taking strong climate action in developing countries.

Mr Lubowa is the founder and general director of All In Trade Limited. This Ugandan private company supplies and maintains reliable and affordable renewable energy solutions for people in Uganda and other countries in Eastern Africa. These include solar and wind power systems.

The partnership of Mr Lubowa’s company with Centenary Rural Development Bank has resulted in the creation of an energy entrepreneur pilot model, where rural energy distributors are selected by the bank in their rural communities to be distributors of regional solar systems. All In Trade installs and provides maintenance service to the systems sold. Mr Lubowa is raising awareness of clean energy and the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility through infrastructure development which includes underground solar-powered boreholes, in-house solar lighting, solar water heating and solar street lighting systems for schools and worship centers in Uganda’s rural communities.

ABOUT GCF

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, as part of the Convention’s financial mechanism. It aims to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change.

GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. GCF is headquartered in Songdo, Incheon City, Republic of Korea.

For more information about the Green Champions GCF Awards or GCF, please visit https://www.greenclimate.fund or find us on Twitter (@GCF_News) and Instagram (@greenclimatefund).

 

All In Trade’s 11 years of championing Renewable Energy in East Africa

November 2008 marked the humble beginning of a Ugandan indigenous firm that had a vision to propagate affordable and renewable energy for all.

A decade and one year down the road, All In Trade Limited has established a well-founded footprint across the East African region that is only in line with its vision.

The company set out focusing on the provision and maintenance of reliable and affordable solar energy systems, power backup systems, electric services, wind energy systems, power protection systems and other renewable energy solutions within Uganda and neighbouring East African countries.

To-date the company has diligently served 1,889 clients including industries, United Nations agencies, religious bodies, humanitarian organisations, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, hotels and leisure centers, academic institutions, non-government organisations and individuals/households.

Notable among these clients are Oxfam GB, Uganda Red Cross Society, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Windle Trust Uganda, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Makerere University, Finn Church Aid, United Nations- African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Gayaza Junior School, Save the Children, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) etc.

Through this unmatched level of service, All In Trade Limited has undoubtedly inked its name among the regional power houses in the area of design, supply, installation and maintenance of domestic, commercial and industrial capacity renewable energy systems.

American skater, Charlie White was once quoted saying; “the most important thing is being passionate about what you’re doing and always give it your all. That is the key to success.”

All In Trade has lived this adage through its values that espouse integrity, competence, client satisfaction, commitment, teamwork, reliability, responsiveness, transparency, honesty and compassion.

The company has also gone an extra mile to ensure that every energy solution and service they offer is innovative enough to expound on the wealth of skills they have in-house. Each job is executed with a touch of robust and reliable technical capacity to exceed the client’s expectations.

Emphasis starts with sourcing out supplies from a range of certified international manufacturers who guarantee high-quality performance standards, reliable and environmentally friendly energy solutions.

Some of the equipment that the company deals in include; solar water heaters, solar PV panels, power inverters, solar charge controllers, wind turbines, maintenance free batteries, solar water pumps, solar lanterns, solar refrigerators, LED lights, solar garden lights and solar food dryers, all of which have to meet the highest quality standards given the market porousness.

Other products are electric distribution boards, control panels, wires and electrical accessories, earthing and lightning protection accessories, power protection devices and a range of wiring fittings assembled in a variety of ways depending on the intended application and client’s unique demand.

Another key component in the company’s work process is the testing and inspection. All installations are inspected and tested by the firm’s qualified testing teams to meet the relevant standards, complying with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) wiring regulations as well as an assessment against the in-house quality monitoring criteria.

To achieve all this, you need a team that is good at what they do and fully appreciate your organizational goal. All In Trade Limited does everything with intent when it comes to this aspect.

“We employ the best talent in the industry with the objective of providing innovative system designs, certified products and services,” Mr. Lubowa Muhammed, Managing Director revealed, adding that: “We have the right mix of experienced personnel as well as fresh minds that bring a fresh approach to the table to suite the various sectors of the industry that we serve,”

Among the technical teams are electrical system designers, electrical engineers, solar PV technicians, plumbers and administrative support personnel to ensure that jobs are accomplished within time and expectations of clients.

“We run every day conscious about the fact that our human resources and the clientele base represent the face of our organization. A job well done opens doors to your next assignment and that’s why we want the balance between our staff competences and deliverables to be up there,” Mr. Lubowa noted.

Through the eleven years of existence, All In Trade Limited has created awareness and scaled up clean energy through strong Corporate Social Responsibility programs like constructing underground solar-powered boreholes, solar in-house lighting, solar water heating and solar street lighting systems for schools and worship centres in rural communities of Uganda.

These acts of goodwill facilitated over 2,000 students keep up with their studies while also benefiting hundreds of surrounding community members.

The company’s competitive advantages lie in the pool of experts in project execution, engineering expertise, managing complex projects and financial capacity.

Successful implementation of utility-scale solar power projects demand highly effective project management and planning from commencement to handover. At All In Trade Limited the entire organization is focused on project execution and the engineering teams draw from their experience to respond flexibly and responsively to project-specific requirements.

It’s no longer in doubt that All In Trade Limited has morphed into Uganda’s market leader in large scale renewable power generation projects.

Looking back at the over 10 years of dedicated service, it’s just right to state that the company took stock of its past, knows its current standing and is clear on its future focus.

Hongera on the decade of existence.

Tips to keep your solar system protected from lightning

1. Proper grounding
Panel frames and mounts are grounded in order to provide the easiest path for lightning to get to the ground. You would much rather have it go down the mounting pole or ground rod than down your wiring to your controller or inverter.

2. Single Point Grounding
All equipment should be bonded to one single good earth ground.

3. Surge Arrestors (Surge Protectors)
These go across the live wires with another wire going to the ground. If the voltage goes above a certain level, they start to conduct, shorting the higher voltage to the ground.

World’s largest floating solar plant connected in China

 By Tom Kenning

China-based firm Three Gorges New Energy, has already partially connected a 150MW floating PV project to the grid, which is likely to become the largest plant globally once fully commissioned. Credit: Ciel & Terre International

China-based firm Three Gorges New Energy, has already partially connected a 150MW floating PV project to the grid, which is likely to become the largest plant globally once fully commissioned. Credit: Ciel & Terre International

Chinese state-owned developer CECEP has completed a 70MW floating solar project – the largest in the world – at a former coal-mining area of Anhui Province, China, in collaboration with French floating solar specialist Ciel & Terre.

The project, spread across 13 separate islets on an area of 140 hectares, was completed in late 2018, with grid-connection, tests and commissioning carried out this month at the project site in the Lianghuai mining subsidence area, Yongqiao District, Suzhou City.

EPC services were provided by China Energy Conservation Solar Technology and the China Energy Engineering Group Shanxi Electric Power Design Institute. A brand new 18km 110V overhead line was also built for the grid connection of the plant, which is expected to generate up to 77,693MWh of electricity in its first year, equivalent to the power consumption of nearly 21,000 households. 

While the complete facility in Anhui is said to currently be the largest floating PV plant on the same reservoir in the world, nearby, China-based firm Three Gorges New Energy has already partially connected a 150MW floating PV project to the grid, which is likely to become the largest plant globally once fully commissioned.

Equipment

The CECEP system was built using Ciel & Terre’s Hydrelio floats, which are locally produced to minimize emissions, optimise logistics costs and offer local employment.

The project uses monocrystalline modules from Chinese manufacturer LONGi Solar, as confirmed by a C&T spokesperson to PV Tech. Central inverters have also been put on stilt platforms on the shoreline of the quarry lake so as not to interfere with neighbouring farm activity. Concrete poles support the electrical installation and 1,500 helical anchors were used for the project and buried at an 8-15 metre-depth to match the water body.

Ciel & Terre has already supplied its floating structure solution to GCL’s 32MW FPV plant in Anhui province. It has also recently supplied a 9.8MW PV project featuring rooftop and floating elements in Cambodia. Tags: chinafloating solarfpvanhuiciel & terrececep

Source: PV TECH

Smart inverters redefine relationship between DERs and the grid

By Kelsey Misbrener | March 12, 2019


SMA Sunny Tripower CORE1 smart inverter. SMA

Inverters of the past simply fed solar power into the grid. Inverters of the future are required to instead dynamically work with the grid to increase its resilience, reliability, safety and security.

‘Smart inverters’ are a more sophisticated version of power electronics that can make autonomous decisions to keep the grid stable and reliable as more distributed energy resources come online. Instead of just feeding power into the grid, smart inverters are capable of having two-way communication with it. Thanks to advanced software, smart inverters can perform specific grid-supportive functionalities related to voltage, frequency, communications and controls, according to IREC’s “Primer on Adopting the New IEEE 1547TM-2018 Standard for Distributed Energy Resources.”

“The primary difference is that smart inverters are programmed to respond to the grid in an automated way such that they not only react when the grid shuts down, but also provide grid supportive functionalities,” said Sara Baldwin, VP of regulatory at IREC. She said the transition to smart inverters is like moving from flip phone to smartphone.

Inverters without these smarts simply shut down after sensing any grid disturbance — a voltage or frequency fluctuation — even if that fluctuation was small and inconsequential.

“The reason why that’s bad is that it causes this sort of whipsaw effect on the power grid where a small disturbance that causes the inverters to trip off can actually make the problem worse in terms of creating more grid disturbance,” said Tom Tansy, chairman of the SunSpec Alliance, a group that helped to develop the updated IEEE standard.

The key to a stable grid is consistent voltage and frequency. Too many tripping inverters on the grid causes instabilities like voltage fluctuations that lead to blackouts or brownouts. An everyday example of the effects of voltage fluctuation is when you turn on a high-voltage appliance, like a vacuum, and the lights in your home flicker.

To avoid harmful voltage fluctuations to the grid due to solar power, smart inverters can ride-through small disturbances (for example, voltage changes), meaning they can switch into standby mode and observe how long the disturbance takes place, then turn off only if the disturbance lasts too long.

“If it takes place longer than the specified time, then yes it’ll turn off. But if the grid corrects itself in the intervening time frame, it’ll just keep on going,” Tansy said.

The proliferation of smart inverters could expand the possible size of the solar market in a big way. Individual distributed energy resources (DERs) will now come equipped with grid-support functionality, so they will be more of an asset to the grid than a burden.

“They’re enabling us to go beyond what was previously conceived to be limits and enabling states to do what California is aiming at doing, which is 100% clean energy,” said Glenna Wiseman, director of the SunSpec Alliance.

Along with communicating with the grid, smart inverters also communicate with the different parts of an individual array. Smart inverters use data communication to comply with Rule 21 rapid shutdown requirements. The communication between the inverter and the rest of the system along the DC power lines allows fire personnel to easily de-energize a home’s solar system in case of an emergency.

The standard


Huawei’s smart string inverters.

The 2018 update of the IEEE Standard 1547 was released last April, with the full rollout set for 2022. But most manufacturers have been developing smart inverters since the introduction of Rule 21 in 2017, said Tansy. A few examples of smart inverter manufacturers are ABB, SMA, Fronius and Delta.

Early adopter solar states California and Hawaii also initiated smart inverter requirements even before the IEEE required it because of the large amount of DERs already feeding into their utility grids.

State regulators will be in charge of implementing the new standard at the state level, in conjunction with utilities that will integrate the standards into interconnection protocols, according to IREC. The solar industry, technology manufacturers, state and federal agencies as well as national laboratories and advocates will also help with the transition to smart inverters.

Baldwin said the issue of legacy systems built with older inverters is a frequent topic of conversations around the updated standard. She doesn’t think these systems will be a problem in most markets, and expects that older inverters will only be swapped for smart inverters when it comes time for replacement.

“However, as the functions of the new inverters are adopted and as they roll out more widely in the system, there may be situations that require older inverters to be either swapped out more quickly or to give an incentive to folks to swap them out, but I am not seeing that happen yet,” Baldwin said.

Software is key to smarts

The not-yet-released Enphase IQ8. Enphase

Enphase is one inverter company that has worked to evolve quickly when it comes to smart inverter technology. Co-founder Raghu Belur said the team realized that inverters can’t just be “a dumb box that sits attached to the grid. You have to think about integration. And the only way to get to integration is by having an inverter that’s software-defined.”

Over the past five years, Enphase has been developing more sophisticated smart inverter solutions. Its most advanced microinverter is the yet-to-be-released IQ8. This so-called ‘software-defined’ inverter not only has all the required attributes of smart inverters, it takes smart a step further by being able to isolate from the grid and form a mini microgrid even without a battery. If a blackout or brownout occurs when the sun is shining, the IQ8 will isolate from the grid and continue powering crucial appliances and tools. Customers can also choose to add storage to these systems, which would mean continuous power even if the sun isn’t shining. The IQ8 uses Enphase’s new software Ensemble to make this inverter feat possible.

Belur said developing increasingly advanced software will keep the industry evolving along with the grid and enable greater solar deployment. But he said this transition won’t come without some growing pains.

“For the last 10 years, a lot of dumb boxes have been installed out there that are not connected and that are not capable of being modified with software. We have had a contrarian view of that from the beginning, and now it’s becoming more mainstream,” Belur said.

Baldwin said smart inverters are a crucial tool in the proliferation of microgrids, which are increasingly important tools for keeping power on during frequent natural disasters and weather events. The updated standard gives special exemptions to DERs in microgrids, also known as intentional islands, that allow them to disconnect from the grid and form an island as long as certain power balance criteria are met, according to IREC.

“The IEEE Standard 2018 update does address microgrids in a more proactive way, which is the first time we’ve seen that in a national standard,” Baldwin said. “I expect there to be much more evolution on that topic going forward and it’ll be an exciting space to take a closer look at.”

Fluid definition

The current required capabilities of smart inverters are outlined in the new standard, but that doesn’t mean it will remain the definition of smart inverters forever. Hybrid inverters connected to batteries add another level of brains to inverter capabilities. If the smart inverter determines it must disconnect from the grid, it can then self-supply power to the home, keeping crucial appliances like refrigerators and dialysis machines running.

“I think over time the definition probably will be adapted to say that if you can support batteries and PV simultaneously and you support autonomous functions and data communication, well that makes you the smart inverter 2.0, or something like that,” Tansy said.

Another emerging concept made possible by smart inverters is system aggregation into a virtual power plant. Aggregation is still in its early stages and not deployed on a wide scale yet, but Baldwin thinks it will be a crucial technique as more DERs are deployed.

“The notion of a virtual power plant is that instead of having lots of little kilowatts here and there that can’t be synchronized or controlled collectively, you have a fleet of DERs that you are able to utilize as needed to respond to real-time grid conditions,” Baldwin said.

Aggregating systems using smart inverters and advanced communication technology would create a more predictable and controllable fleet of DERs and enable the smooth transition to a smart grid with as many solar systems connected as possible.

The one downside to these advanced inverter communications is increased cybersecurity risk. Tansy said the U.S. power grid is evolving from a relatively small Datacom network with few points on the grid where it could be attacked — also known as the attack surface — to one where every distributed energy source is communicating with the grid. This greatly increases the size of the network and the size of the attack surface.

SunSpec is working with Sandia National Laboratories on standards to ensure that cybersecurity risk is minimized as inverters and the grid get smarter.

Policy opportunities

Smart inverters could change the conversation around incentives for feeding power back into the grid. As grid-tied solar becomes more helpful than harmful to the grid thanks to inverter advancements, the possibilities of net metering or other incentive programs could open up in places that phased out incentives or never had them before.

Baldwin said many policy opportunities for smart inverters revolve around reframing DERs as an optimized component of the distribution grid as opposed to a burden, or something that must be “dealt with.”

“We are trying to have as much [distributed resources] as possible on the grid,” Baldwin said. “We are not trying to avoid that scenario, we are actually trying to get as many distributed resources deployed as possible so that we can make our distribution grid as clean, reliable and resilient as possible, while also giving customers and communities the opportunity to meet their own renewable energy goals or carbon reduction goals or economic goals.”

Smart inverters will play a pivotal role in the important work of redefining the relationship between DERs and utilities.

Source: Solar Power World

Understanding bifacial boost

Belgian research institute imec has developed a new simulation framework it says can calculate the expected output of a bifacial PV system. The model could help improve developer understanding of the best system configurations for bifacial, and foster confidence among investors by providing a precise prediction of energy yields.

Bifacial technology has already begun to be deployed in large-scale PV projects and is well on the way to becoming a mainstream module technology – it is expected to represent more than 35% of modules by 2028, according to the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics. However, complications with precisely calculating the energy yield of bifacial systems are still an issue that can deter investors and developers.

Generating electricity from both sides of a module brings several additional factors to the energy yield calculation, such as albedo (light reflection) and shading from surrounding surfaces, which can vary greatly during the day and between systems. These factors make calculating yield more complex, with estimates for the additional generation offered by bifacial panels often placed anywhere between 5% and 20%. the resulting higher margin for error makes bifacial projects more difficult to finance.

Configuration can cause big losses

The non-uniformity of the factors affecting energy generation – such as the fact rear-side illumination can vary greatly between two modules in the same installation – can also lead to higher levels of mismatch, and reduced performance due to non-optimal system configuration. According to imec R&D manager Eszter Voroshazi, the resulting loss in output can be as high as 40%. “The impact of technological and system configuration details on the non-uniformity at the rear side of the modules has a surprisingly important effect,” she said. “Our final goal is to calculate with high precision the bifacial gain at module, string and system level, and enable a multi objective and automated PV power plant design tool in the longer term.”

Imec says its new simulation tool “takes into account the double-sided illumination and the way it is influenced by module frames, system components’ geometry, and varying albedo”. The institute says thanks to optimizing computational flows, its solution can match competitors for speed whilst providing more detailed and accurate information.

The tool, said Voroshazi, can calculate the energy yield of an entire bifacial PV system with a margin of error lower than 5%.

New tool will further reduce cost of solar

The research institute says it expects its model to contribute to further implementation of bifacial PV and reductions in the cost of renewable energy generation.

“Since current energy yield prediction tools for bifacial technology are not so precise, investors do not have a good view of their return on investment, making them hesitant to take the step,” said imec and EnergyVille business development director Philip Pieters. “We are currently in the final validation phase of our simulation framework. Once it will be fully available, it will give PV plant developers more confidence of the achievable bifacial gain, hence allowing easier funding of bifacial power plants.”

Source: pv-magazine.com

AUTHORIZED INSTALLER

WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE AN AUTHORIZED INSTALLER FOR YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Now that you’ve made a choice to join the transition to renewable energy, do not forget to make one important decision of choosing the right installer for your system. If you want the most professional and experienced installer working on your project, then you need a certified and permitted installer

WHAT IS AN INSTALLATION PERMIT?

An installation permit is issued by the Electricity Regulatory Authority and allows the holder to carry out electrical installation work.  

The Electricity Regulatory Authority, under Section 10 of the Electricity Act 1999, is among other functions mandated to regulate persons and entities carrying out any electrical installation works on any premises such as homes, offices, shops, industries, schools, hospitals. Such mandate ensures the safety of electricity consumers.  Accordingly under Electricity Act 1999 and the Electricity (Installation Permits) Regulations SI No 19 of 2003 electrical installation. Works may only be carried out by persons with the appropriate electrical worker’s permit issued by the Authority

HOW CAN I TELL WHO HAS A PERMIT?

An authorized Solar installer must hold a valid installation permit. Obtaining a valid installation permit is a legal requirement in the Electricity Regulatory Authority under Section 10 of the Electricity Act 1999. 

A permit issued under the The Electricity (Installation Permits) Regulations, 2003 expires on the 31st day of December of the year during which it was issued. Ensure that your installer has a current permit.

Our 2019
service permit renewed and certified

WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN AUTHORIZED INSTALLER?

Improper installation may result in poor system performance or even safety risks. Here’s why you should use an authorized installer

  • They have completed their training as they must meet all the minimum requirements before being issued the permit
  • They are registered with the Electricity Authority therefore they are more reliable and trustworthy than unauthorized installers.
  • The insurance policy is in place. In case of any problem during or after installation, an authorized installer is able to take care of it as they are covered by insurance unlike unauthorized  installers
  • Be sure of standard services. An authorized installer is in position to deliver quality services, improve the safety of clients and promote consumer confidence as they are working within the law.

World’s largest roofing company just launched a new solar startup

NEW YORK — Standard Industries, the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer, announced the launch of GAF Energy, a new company aimed at revolutionizing the adoption of rooftop solar for everyday consumers.

Working in partnership with GAF, a Standard Industries company and the largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer in North America, GAF Energy will drive scalable adoption of integrated and affordable rooftop solar solutions across GAF’s established distribution network.

The company said in a release that customers will benefit from a streamlined, turnkey approach to going solar when selecting GAF Energy, from planning and financing, to installation and permitting with utilities.

“As the largest global player in roofing and waterproofing, we will reshape the way clean solar energy becomes a reality for everyone,” said David Millstone, co-CEO of Standard Industries. “We believe that roofing is real estate and we see a future with energy from every roof. GAF Energy’s offerings will empower people to put their roofs to work with technology that is attractive, accessible and affordable.”

A GAF Energy official told Fast Company that around 5 million homes are reroofed in the U.S. annually, but fewer than 300,000 get solar power.

That number could increase as GAF Energy empowers roofing contractors across the U.S. with what it calls “a comprehensive and economical approach to solar installations, bypassing the high-cost of customer acquisition most pure solar technology companies face today.”

With dedicated support teams and training for project management, design, permitting and installation of GAF Energy’s integrated solar roofs, local and regional contractors can effectively grow their businesses while meeting demand for more clean and sustainable sources of energy, according to the company.

“We are best positioned to accelerate the growth of residential solar with over a century of waterproofing experience and the largest network of roofing distributors and contractors in the world.  Our team is in the kitchen with the homeowner at the moment a new roof is required: the most perfect time to provide the opportunity to go green. We couldn’t be more excited to have Martin DeBono and a world class team lead the evolution of rooftop solar for years to come,” said David Winter, co-CEO of Standard Industries.

“GAF Energy capitalizes on the historic challenges facing the rooftop solar industry – acquisition and installation costs – and turns them into demonstrable strengths – making it easy for customers to say ‘yes’ to solar rooftops,” said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy. “Our product is smart, integrated and economical, and we hope it will mark a fundamental shift in rooftop solar adoption around the world.”

From www.roofingcontractor.com

Largest solar farms in the world

Photovoltaic solar energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world. Currently China, India, and the US produce the majority of the global solar power, with the Middle East coming on strong. Growth is booming — especially in the deserts of Asia and the Middle East, where huge solar farms are in the process of being built and expanded. To give you a taste of just how rapidly the adoption of solar power is expanding, we’ve profiled five of the largest solar plants currently in operation. Enjoy!

TENGGER DESERT SOLAR PARK

Largest solar farm in the world

worlds largest solar farms tengger desert park

Location: China
Site Area: 43 square kilometers
Output: 1,547 MW
Known as the “Great Wall” of solar power, the Tengger Desert Solar Park is the largest solar farm currently in existence. Located in China’s Tengger Desert, the solar field occupies only 3.25 percent of the arid land in the region.  That might not sound that big, but it’s actually more than 10 times larger than New York’s Central Park, and is capable of producing 1.5 Gigawatts of power, rivaling the power capacity of most nuclear power plants. With plenty of room to expand, we expect Tengger to be a top solar power producer for years to come.

BHADLA SOLAR PARK

Largest solar farm in India

bhadla-solar-farm

Location: India
Site Area: 40 square kilometers
Output: 1,365 MW

The Bhadla Solar Park currently produces 1,365 MW, but that is about to change. The facility is expanding rapidly, and has plans to produce an additional 880 megawatts by March of 2019. Once it reaches full capacity next year, Bhadla will claim the title as the largest solar facility in the world and will help India come closer to its goal of obtaining 17% of its energy from solar power.

LONGYANGXIA DAM SOLAR PARK

Renewable hybrid power with solar and hydroelectric

worlds largest solar farms longyangxia dam park

Location: Tibetan Plateau, China
Site Area: 27 square kilometers
Output: 850 MW
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park was completed in 2015 and is integrated with the facility’s 1,280MW Longyangxia hydroelectric dam. Together the two power sources complement each other. Solar power helps to conserve water usage by the dam, while the hydroelectric dam balances out the variable energy production from solar cells.

VILLANUEVA SOLAR

Largest in North and South America

worlds largest solar farms villanueva

Location: Coahuila, Mexico
Site Area: 24 square kilometers
Output: 828 MW
The Villanueva solar power facility has been growing steadily with the commissioning of the 427 MW Villanueva 1 park and the 327 MW Villanueva 3 park in early 2018. Enel Green Power Mexico, which oversees the plants, continues to add capacity in small chunks, with a goal of reaching 1,700 GWh per year once the facility is fully operational. This facility is part of Mexico’s commitment to supply 35 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2024.

KAMUTHI SOLAR POWER STATION

Largest solar farm in the state of Tamil Nadu

worlds largest solar farms kamuthi power station

Location: Tamil Nadu, India
Site Area: 10 square kilometers
Output: 648 MW
As of the writing of this post, the Kamuthi Solar Power Station is the sixth largest solar farm in the world. Built in a mere eight months, the plant went online in September 2016. The 2.5 million solar panels at the facility produce enough power for 750,000 people. One cool fact: the facility is cleaned daily by a fleet of robots who are charged by the solar panels they service.

SOLAR STAR SOLAR FARM

Largest solar farm in the US

worlds largest solar farms star park

Location: Rosamond, California
Site Area: 13 square kilometers (5.0 sq mi)
Output: 580 MW
One of the older plants on our list, construction began on the Solar Star power plant in 2013 and was completed in 2015. The facility includes 1.7 million solar panels that can supply electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 255,000 homes. Solar Star hails from California, which leads the US with almost 23GW in solar energy and accounts for nearly 17 percent of California’s electricity supply.

MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM SOLAR PARK

Largest planned solar farm under construction

worlds largest solar farms mohammed bin rashid al maktoum park

Location: UAE
Site Area: 77 square kilometers
Output: 5,000 gigawatts planned by 2030
The 213MW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park may pale in comparison to other facilities, but it has big plans for the future. The solar park has planned improvements that are expected to generate 1,000 MW by 2020 and an incredible 5,000 MW by 2030. Not only will it be the largest solar park in the world, but it also will have the world’s tallest solar energy tower. The 260-meter tower is part of phase four of development and will contribute 700MW to the plant’s total output.

Source :digitaltrends.com

Here’s the Largest Solar Power Plant in East and Central Africa

Uganda’s rate of adding solar generated energy to the national grid is increasing by the day as the President, H.E  Yoweri  Museveni, on Wednesday, 9th January, commissioned a 20MW Solar Power Plant, the largest, and first of it’s kind in East and Central Africa.

The plant was developed and installed by Dr. David Alobo, a Ugandan Scientist based in Germany under the auspices of Xsabo Group of Companies in conjunction with Great Lakes Energy Company N.V from the Netherlands.  

The power plant is located in Butiti village, Kabulasoke,  in Gomba District, and it’s completion brings hope to many Ugandans as it is set to offer employment to over 300 people as well as provide power to the neighboring Districts.
The completion of this project is deemed a great milestone for
Xsabo Group of Companies, but an even bigger one for us as we check it off our list of the 2018 successful projects.
The future of renewable energy in Uganda and East Africa as a whole is bright

The Business Advantages of Solar Energy

Companies are harnessing the power of solar because it’s more affordable than ever.

Reduce operating costs – Monthly savings from solar can contribute significantly to your business’ bottom line

Return on investment – Decreased energy bills, tax incentives and grants accelerate your already fast rate of return

Worry-free operation and maintenance – Our extremely reliable solar panels require virtually no maintenance

Go green, make green – Customers want to support businesses that are environmentally responsible

Financing options available – Create a cash-positive project from day one, talk to your installer about financing options


We ensure a worry-free installation anywhere in Uganda and East Africa at large. Contact us on 031 2106599 or email info@allintradelimited.com

Source: Solar World

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