Adding the smarts: Smart Renewable Energy @ Intersolar Europe

Solar and smart make for perfect bedfellows. Decentralized PV arrays supported by home battery systems and combined with intelligent networks are already providing balancing power to the grid, and lower carbon footprints and energy bills to the consumer. At this year’s Intersolar Europe – an exhibition and conference that many consider is the industry’s pinnacle clean energy event – Smart Renewable Energy (SRE) promises to help further define this future vision. Visitors to Halls B2 and B3 (and elsewhere throughout Intersolar Europe) will find a number of exhibitors showcasing their SRE innovations and technologies. Additionally, there will be a busy schedule of SRE-related talks and workshops, as well as a presentation of infrastructure platform the Energy Lab 2.0. at the SRE special exhibit. The Energy Lab 2.0 has been developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and its partners from the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers to investigate the complex interplay of the potential components of future energy systems. Such components, and their interplay with other innovations and industry-standard PV solutions, will be discussed at the SRE special exhibit (B2.140) throughout Intersolar Europe. The SRE program will also include Smart Renewable Energy Sessions at the Intersolar Europe Conference, held at the ICM Congress Center. The SRE Forum will host a series of expert presentations on all exhibition days and is located in hall B2, booth 131. Over the next few pages you can learn more about some of the 100+ companies presenting Smart Renewable Energy solutions at
Intersolar Europe.

More than 100 companies will present their new smart renewable energy solutions and products during Intersolar Europe. pv magazine has contacted a selection of these companies to find out more about what they will be unveiling at the show.

EnBW

German utility EnBW will present its EnBW solar+ product, which enables community members to assume the role of energy suppliers. This innovation sees EnBW move into the role of enabler, providing IT-based interaction and transaction platforms as well as hardware and software support services.

EnBW solar+ consists of three smart solutions: a PV and battery storage system (solar array from 3.3 kWp to 9.9 kWp, and battery sizes of 5.5 kWh or 8.3 kWh); a cloud community membership that allows sharing of excess energy and coverage of residual (grid) energy needs at special prices; and an active membership role in the energy market. For example: intelligent management and measurement system EnergyBASE may provide signals to charge the battery (for free) at times of negative electricity prices with maximum continuous charging capacity permitted by the battery inverter (2.3 or 4.6 kW).

The use of the system is facilitated by the EnBW solar+ app, providing users with an overview and control of their energy and financial data.

Along with a special feed-in tariff of €0.1261/kWh – which is €0.003/kWh higher than the EEG one – EnBW introduces the Family & Friends feature for its cloud community, which allows EnBW solar+ members to invite friends (with or without a PV system) into a sub-community within which the PV energy is shared. The platform then offers the possibility to give away one’s excess solar energy.

Membership fees vary according to consumption, so the packages come in sizes of up to 1,500 kWh, 3,000 kWh, 4,500 kWh, or 6,000 kWh per year, and the prices follow accordingly: €19.99, €27.49, €34.99, and €42.49 on a monthly basis.

EnBW solar+ also offers the possibility to retrieve European Power Exchange (EPEX) spot prices and manage the battery to be charged from the grid at times of negative market prices (at no cost to the customer). This means that storage is loaded from the grid only when the quarter-hourly spot market price is negative and when PV generation equals zero. Annually, the loading of storage from the grid at times of negative electricity prices is limited to 600 kWh.

According to EnBW, a household with a yearly consumption of 4,000 kWh, a 6 kWp PV system and 8 kWh of storage installed will see calculated savings of between €940 and €1,279 a year. These numbers depend on the reference electricity price. EnBW even lowers risks for the customer, which might be the reason it hesitates to invest. A 20 year guarantee package is also offered, with a money-back promise in case the user does not reach the forecast savings on an annual basis. In the example given, the solution guarantees a saving of €846.

Next Kraftwerke

At this year’s SRE Forum, Cologne-based organization Next Kraftwerke will present an example of its virtual power plant project with the local utility Stadtwerke Hassfurt, and its SolarSpot wholesale tariff for solar plants with a nominal power under 800 kWp.

With weather forecasting and analysis solution at the core of its virtual power plant, Next Kraftwerke manages the forecast and portfolio of Stadtwerke Hassfurt’s wind and solar power assets in the region in order to schedule the production of its power-to-gas unit. What makes SolarSpot different from other tariffs is that it is a simple flat rate. The market and the management premium compensations guaranteed by the EEG per kWh of traded energy is fully reimbursed to the owner.

Next Kraftwerke instead compensates the owner by a type of flat rate fee, the amount of which is determined by the size of the installation. This amounts monthly to €60, €70, and €110 for systems sized up to 150 kWp, 500 kWp, and 800 kWp respectively. Next Kraftwerke currently offers a discount of up to €180 for the SolarSpot rates.

In accordance with the EEG, as of January 2016 the direct marketing of PV-generated electricity is mandatory for installations in Germany down to 100 kWp. Originally this applied only to large-scale power plants in order to better integrate renewable energy sources to the market and increase their possible share in gross electricity consumption. The plants are obliged to trade their generated electricity directly, either independently or through an intermediator, on the energy trading markets.

Next Krafwerke therefore emphasizes that an online booking form helps owners to deal with the obligatory direct marketing for any solar power unit over 100 kWp.

Caterva

A newly introduced product to Bavarian company Caterva’s portfolio to be presented during Intersolar Europe is the Caterva Sun neo, which is a 12.8 kWh smart storage solution that is smaller than the previous iteration, the Caterva Sun (a 20 kWh solution). The innovative concept of Caterva combines electricity services and storage hardware. Customers invest in solar and storage, and Caterva provides free electricity for 20 years, as well as maintenance and warranty.

Additionally, it gives a fixed annual bonus, which in the case of the Caterva Sun and the Caterva Sun neo amounts to €1,000 and €250 respectively.

Caterva sells the Sun neo to households whose annual power needs do not exceed 7,500 kWh. The Caterva Sun is designed for households with larger consumption, for example for properties fitted with a heat pump and/or an electric vehicle charging station.

The Caterva storage systems are networked to create a large virtual power plant called the Caterva Solar System, through which it is possible to trade the storage capacities on the primary control energy market, and also to trade energy on the intraday trading markets.

The Caterva Sun system, which can also operate as an off-grid storage system during times of blackouts, comes at a price of €27,500, while the new product Caterva Sun neo, which requires grid connection, costs €17,450.

Viessmann

Viessmann will use the SRE Forum to present its modular battery storage system, Vitocharge, which is adapted for combined heat and power (CHP) and PV systems, fuel cell heating devices, and heat pumps (including micro CHP systems and PV systems from Viessmann’s comprehensive range of products).

The Vitocharge storage system can be seamlessly combined with the Vitocal heat pumps that run on electricity from one’s own solar PV system, or with electricity-generating heating systems such as the Vitovalor 300-P fuel cell heating device, thus ensuring their operation during night. Moreover, the storage system can be used for charging electric vehicles with surplus electricity generated during the day.

Due to the battery’s modular structure, Vitocharge comes in two versions: the Vitocharge S230 6.0 A – an all-round electricity storage system with a high charging and discharging capability suitable for emergency power mode in the event of a power outage; and the Vitocharge S230 3.0 A – primarily intended for the supply to electrical consumers for long periods of time.

The Vitocharge S230 6.0 A electricity storage system can accommodate up to four battery modules in the form of stackable drawers with a storage capacity of 3.2 kWh each. Combined, the system has the capacity of providing a maximum of 12.8 kWh. The life cycle of the modules is for 20 years and 6,000 charging cycles.

Vitocharge S230 3.0 A, meanwhile, is a storage system that boasts a higher battery capacity and up to four battery modules, where each module has a rated capacity of 4.7 kWh. In this model, the modules have a life cycle of 15 years and 5,000 charging cycles.

Fronius

At SRE Austria’s Fronius will present an insight into its cooperation with American manufacturer of integrated circuits Maxim Integrated. The partnership is aimed at maximizing the return on the PV system operation. Namely, the two companies are working on solutions for module electronics, including chip-based solar cell-string optimizers – which are integrated DC/DC converters that are embedded in the PV module and tasked with maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The cell-line optimizers minimize yield losses caused by shading, string mismatch, and soiling, thus helping the panels to achieve a higher energy yield.

Furthermore, the Austrian company will also show its grid-connected inverters, which are equipped with intelligent mounting system SnapINverter; the Superflex design, which ensures the flexibility of the plant; and the innovative MPPT algorithm Dynamic Peak Manager, which dynamically adapts its behavior in search of the optimum operating point.

The Solar Configurator online tool supports the precise dimensioning of PV systems and ensures that the planners can always use the latest solar module and inverter data for system configuration – without having to carry out an update.

Because of the company’s firm belief that the potential for the efficient use of renewable energy sources lies in the combination of electricity, heat, and mobility, Fronius will also present its technology for hot water treatment, the Fronius Ohmpilot, which allows stepless regulation of heat sources and innovative storage technology.

Siemens

Siemens will be in attendance to present its varied portfolio of services and products relating to grids and microgrids. These include hardware solutions, such as huge storage systems and analysis tools such as the SICAM Q200, as well as innovations regarding microgrid development, such as blockchain and consulting.

Optimization of the microgrid: Siemens’ SICAM Q200 power supply system analyzer can analyze all important power supply parameters, thus permitting the early identification of weak points that could interfere with power quality, helping to prevent unplanned interruptions. Therefore, it is viewed as a good choice for hospitals, military bases, and other industrial clients that depend upon uninterrupted supply.

Blockchain: Siemens and New York startup LO3 Energy are currently working on the development of a blockchain-based microgrid in the New York borough of Brooklyn.

Their collaboration is based on LO3 Energy’s “TransActive Grid,” a blockchain platform that automatically documents the buying and selling of solar power, as well as on Siemens Digital Grid Division’s microgrid-specific technical solutions and on the support by next47, the German company’s unit that pools its startup activities.

Storage: In December 2016, Siemens secured an order from German energy provider SWW Wunsiedel GmbH to deliver and install a 6 MW lithium-ion battery storage system, which will be connected to the distribution grid and enable the company to participate in the primary control reserve market. The energy provider and Siemens have agreed on a 10 year financing model. Commissioning is scheduled for 2018.

Joint venture: Siemens formed a joint venture with Kempten-based utility Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW) under the name egrid, which will be providing consulting services on decentralized networks. The 51% controlling stake will be in the hands of AÜW. On April 11, 2017, the European Commission approved the merger, stating that it would raise no competition concerns. Egrid has said that it will focus on “intelligence instead of copper” solutions for smart grid expansion in order to integrate large capacities from distributed generation.

A look to America…

Smart Renewable Energy at Intersolar North America

The companies driving the trend toward smart renewable energy (SRE) will gain special recognition at the 2017 Intersolar North America in San Francisco in July. The exhibition and conference will highlight the leading and new solutions that are accelerating SRE adoption, along with the manufacturers that are helping to carry out the intelligent integration of energy generation, storage, grid integration, and other functions.

One recent study on the SRE market predicted that, “The global market for smart solar is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 16.51% during the period of 2017 – 2025. The smart solar market in North America is expected to hold a colossal share by 2025.”

The Intersolar North America’s organizers note that, “Each device connected to a smart grid is both an electro-technical device and an intelligent node. Connection standards need to address both aspects concurrently. Additionally, big data presents another challenge – and opportunity – for SRE. As data in power systems will continue to increase dramatically, processing the data has emerged as a major concern.”

Some of the market’s leading SRE companies that will be on display will include:

Delta Americas

Delta is expected to show its M80U PV inverter, which it calls “the first wall mount 80 kW string inverter in the world.” The M80U is a grid-tied, three-phase and transformerless inverter that converts DC output from a PV system into a utility-frequency AC, allowing seamless integration by the grid within host buildings. The overall efficiency rating of the unit includes a California Energy Commission (CEC) efficiency rating of 98.5%. The Delta inverter is among those encouraging the PV industry to move to higher voltages, with the two-stage M80U offering an input operation range ranging from 200 V DC to 1,000 V DC. The unit integrates 16 strings, with fuse protection and arc fault detection circuits, as well as an improved operating temperature range from – 13°F (- 25°C) to 140°F (60°C).

Eaton

Eaton will unveil its Power Xpert Solar 2.5 MW inverter at Intersolar, along with a 2.75 MW version, which will serve both the PV generation and energy storage functions of an integrated SRE system.

The new inverter now comes standard with DC sensors on each of the string feeds into the solar array. On the AC side, the unit includes a Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) relay, permitting waveform capture, and an oscilloscope if the grid is affected, both in a networkable design to permit data download.

Eaton continues to offer its data analytics service launched two years ago, for algorithm analysis of failure prognosis. “Some inverter companies start with a focus on solar and then turn to storage, so these devices are more susceptible to overheating and burning up without the more rugged design that storage requires,” points out Christopher Thompson, Eaton’s Grid Power Business Unit Manager.

“We did the opposite – we started out doing new grid features in storage a decade ago. The solar industry is just catching up now,” he says.

SolarEdge

The cost-cutting SolarEdge solution consists of inverters, power optimizers, storage solutions, and a cloud-based monitoring platform. This system enables “superior” power harvesting and module management by deploying power optimizers to each PV module,” the company claims. At the same time, cost is controlled by keeping the AC inversion and grid interaction centralized, using a simplified DC-AC inverter, reducing BOS costs.

Its latest product is the HD Wave inverter, which in January set a new record for the California Energy Commission’s weighted efficiency ratings, when it hit 99%. The HD Wave is the smallest and lightest inverter the company has manufactured yet. The unit offers an optional revenue grade data feature, but includes standard 25 years of free module-level monitoring and a
12 year warranty.

Plan your visit to the Intersolar Europe show

Intersolar Europe Conference, Munich, May 30 – June 2
Intersolar Europe Exhibition, Munich, May 31 – June 2

A selection of Smart Renewable Energy conference highlights

Tuesday May 30

10:15 a.m. – 11:35 a.m.: Smart Renewable Energy:
Virtual Power Plants

Tuesday May 30

2:30 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.: Smart Renewable Energy:
Micro/Mini Grid Concepts & Technologies

Wednesday May 31

4:00 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.: Smart Renewable Energy:

Digitalization/Energy/Clouds/Big Data

For the full SRE program and schedule, visit:

www.intersolar.de/en/for-visitors/smart-renewable-energy.html