The solar PV industry’s evolution has taken another, somewhat unexpected step this week following the unveiling by California-headquartered solar tracking company NEXTracker of its new NX Fusion Plus – a tracker-plus storage device for PV plants.
Combining the firm’s tracker technology and predictive modeling capabilities supplied by BrightBox – which was acquired by NEXTracker in August – with a battery and inverter, the NX Fusion Plus can operate as the backbone of a PV plant, providing backup power, system analytics and monitoring, in alongside the standard boost offered by a tracker.
According to NEXTracker CTO Alex Au, this combination represents a power development for the energy industry, and will likely prove attractive in a range of markets, including regions in India prone to power supply fluctuations, and large-scale customers operating in California seeking ways to maximize their energy yield.
"Our goal has always been to identify the best technologies for addressing solar generation’s intermittency," said Au. "We can now dispatch uninterrupted clean energy in the most effective manner possible for the customer."
The NX Fusion Plus is a composite of a 25 kWh Avalon vanadium flow battery, connected to a string inverter made by Ideal Power (the Sundial Plus) and a NEXTracker NX Horizon tracker.
It can utilize a greater portion of clipped power, ie, energy that would otherwise be barred access to the grid due to limitations in the inverter’s rated input power, steering it instead into the batteries, which can then store and release this power as and when required, thus broadening the shoulders of the PV curve. NEXTracker will launch the NX Fusion Plus in the U.S. market and international markets in which the company is active.
NEXTracker’s parent company Flex has brought its secure data platform to the table, combining it with the embedded predictive smart control software embedded into the trackers. The addition of BrightBox’s machine learning capability adds an additional layer of performance and helps to minimize O&M costs.
"This solution brings together the NEXTracker protocol, the machine learning and predictive analytics capability of BrightBox, and Flex’s cyber-secure software platform to ultimately deliver more value to the end-user," said Flex Energy Solutions SVP Scott Graybeal.