Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

Over the last years, some new sensors have been developed, for monitoring photovoltaic plants. This has been possible due to close co-operation, in research and development, between Ingenieurbüro Mencke & Tegtmeyer GmbH (M&T) and Institut für Solarenergieforschung Hameln/ Emmerthal (ISFH). The new PVIS reference irradiance sensor will be available later this year, once the final optimization and accelerated environmental testing is completed. Whilst we now concentrate on this sensor, which conforms to the IEC 61724-1:2017 standard as well as with WPVS (World Photovoltaic Scale), we will present the new BigRef sensor in the next issue of PES Solar. We would like to thank all colleagues, who have made this technique possible.

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Maria Stefanidou, Sales Director at Mounting Systems, gave PES Solar an interesting insight into the importance of racking systems. Just outside of Berlin, this German manufacturer supplies a whole range of products to our industry. The latest is for solar car ports. Read on to find out more … PES: Hi Maria, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to PES. To start us off, would you like to give us a brief overview of Mounting Systems? Maria Stefanidou: Mounting Systems is the only racking system manufacturer in Germany. Our production site is in Rangsdorf, 30 minutes outside Berlin, where we produce a whole range of products for pitched and flat roofs as well as ground mount including solar carports. Manufacturing products in-house means we are in full control of the system and the product: from the raw material all the way to the delivery to the customer. Being a large manufacturer, we also make parts for many other brands all over the world, giving us a unique way into many markets. We are selling our products with our Mounting Systems brand, as well as private label. PES: We know that sustainable policies are becoming more of a requirement for businesses and cities want

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This year marks APsystems’ 10th anniversary. While the situation worldwide is facing unexpected challenges on many fronts during this very particular year 2020 with the Coronavirus pandemic, Dr Zhi Min Ling, co-founder and chairman of APsystems, shares his views on his entrepreneurial story with Maxime Boiron, Senior Director of Marketing EMEA & Australia, also at APsystems. From its very beginning, when the economic effects of the 2008 financial crisis were still strongly present, to where APsystems is today, having become the No.1 multi-module microinverter supplier in the world. It is as if challenging uncertainty could also be a key in building long-lasting opportunities. Maxime Boiron: 2020 is the year of APsystems celebrating its 1st decade, how does it make you feel? Zhi Min Ling: Fortunate, honored and grateful. It is a major milestone for the company, especially in this very fast-changing inverter industry which is at the crossroads of high-tech microelectronics, energy and environmentally-friendly building sectors. Staying alive is one thing, but growing profitably when you need to heavily invest in R&D on one side, while keeping enough agility to adapt to an ever-changing emerging market on the other side, is another challenge. The fact that we have been growing for

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From its beginning, Studer has been in the forefront of battery-based systems. Despite the constant evolution of the sector, and the arrival of new competitors, Studer has kept a leading position. All manufacturing is carried out in Switzerland, to the highest quality standards. Serge Remy, Head of Sales, gave PES a look back of over 30 years of history and bringing us right up to the present day. The pioneer years Here is the story of a company which started small, in a tiny country called Switzerland. The man who founded this company in 1987, Roland Studer, had a great idea: to offer high value power electronics to a brand-new market, which then was still in its youth and to offer it beyond the frontier of Switzerland. Of course, it was solar photovoltaic. The first solar charge controller 200Wp with analog display is born Only one year after, the first device was improved and got up to to 300Wp, incorporating a digital display.

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Over 1.6 billion connectors from Stäubli’s solar range have provided reliable connections all over the world since 1996. This represents a PV output of over 300 GW, which is almost impossible to believe. Matthias Mack, Director Global Alternative Energies and member of the Management Board at Stäubli, came to talk to PES about Stäubli Electrical Connectors, its company values and the future direction. PES: Welcome back to PES Solar. We have had the pleasure of several interviews with your company, and have followed your progress with great interest. As always, we have many new readers, for their benefit could you give us a brief history of Stäubli? Matthias Mack: We are part of the Swiss family-owned Stäubli Group, a global mechatronics solution provider with three dedicated activities: Connectors, both fluid and electrical, Robotics and Textile, founded in 1892. Stäubli Electrical Connectors, formerly Multi-Contact, is an experienced specialist and market leader in electrical connectors for photovoltaic solutions. We offer reliable, long-lasting quality components and services that help to reduce operational and maintenance cost. Safe and efficient products along the whole electrical PV supply chain, from roof top installations to power optimizers and energy storage, provide reliability and zero maintenance to increase the bankability

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The craze for solar panels begins in the 1980s. Following the oil shocks, electricity produced by ‘alternative’ sources appears to be an effective long-term solution. The first MW of production at the world level is reached in 1999. The United States, a pioneer in the field to the point of owning 21% of the total photovoltaic surface area in 1983, is quickly caught up by Germany, and today by China, which now produces 29.7% of the world’s solar energy (figures from 2017). A directly correlated issue to the rising number of solar panels is their long-term maintenance in order to ensure ongoing efficiency. Therefore, the way to keep them clean. At the time of the photovoltaic ‘boom’, knowledge about the maintenance of solar panels is very limited. Until 2010, the most widespread opinion is that solar panels do not need to be cleaned because ‘wind and rain water clean them’. This argument by solar panel producers is commonly accepted, although experiences with other objects left outside over a period of time seem to prove it wrong. For example, a car parked outside will show traces of dirt despite being subject to rain and wind. After several years of using solar

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PES met up with Brigitte Beck, CEO at Solare Datensysteme GmbH. Their new portal, developed over 2 years, with input from customers, provides plant operators with an even faster and deeper fault analysis, saving considerable time and expenditure. They are at the cutting edge of digitalisation and that is where they aim to stay. ‘The interaction of our new, powerful hardware with the flexible software leaves nothing to be desired for users.’ PES: Hello Brigitte, it is my pleasure to welcome you to PES Solar. It’s been a while since we talked to someone from Solar-LogTM and it’s great to have the opportunity to get informed. The company has been part of the BKW Group, one of the largest energy service providers in Switzerland, for quite some time now and there was a change in the management of the company last year. Would you first like to give our readers a brief overview of the company? Brigitte Beck: Solare Datensysteme GmbH (SDS) has been very successfully active in the global market for almost 15 years with its well-known Solar-LogTM brand. Since 2015, SDS has been part of the listed energy group BKW AG in Switzerland. We have developed from purely providing PV

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Every company that owns solar plants wants to generate the highest return. In order to achieve this, the system’s maintenance teams need to constantly ensure the optimal functioning of all system components, especially the panels and inverters. A solar monitoring system enables you to be informed of your PV system’s performance. The industry standard: solar site monitoring It offers information about energy consumption and generation as well as possible damage to your solar system. It’s important to monitor your solar assets in some manner. Without monitoring, it is impossible to determine if your solar panels are operating at their full capacity. While system monitoring is considered a minimum requirement, detecting and identifying panel faults in large solar systems can be a complex process. Monitoring systems help detect low-performing areas, but finding the specific panel that harms the string output requires more time and advanced testing devices. By utilizing the best of both worlds with system monitoring and aerial data inspections, asset owners can improve the performance of their systems and maintain yields over time.

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Jonas Dobner, Application and Project manager at Pfeiffer Vacuum dropped in on PES Solar. Needless to say, we were very interested to hear about their latest vacuum technology and solutions. These are already making an impact in the renewable energies segment and used in leak detection and various types of lithium batteries in the company has a long history in our business and is ready for the challenges ahead. PES: Welcome back to PES Solar/PV, it’s great to talk with you. Would you like to begin by giving us a brief overview of Pfeiffer Vacuum? Jonas Dobner: Pfeiffer Vacuum develops, produces and distributes components and solutions for vacuum generation, measurement, analysis and leak detection. The company is a global player and has 3,200 employees worldwide. Pfeiffer Vacuum offers reliable vacuum and leak detection solutions, for battery production in the Li-ion battery market. PES: We know that climate change and environmental awareness mean a higher demand for renewable energy solutions, using improved technologies in the field of energy storage. As these all depend on vacuum technology, could you explain what this is in general and specifically in regards to lithium-ion batteries?

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Yes it is, if we take what we have learned from asset management in other industries and apply it to operational safety in battery energy storage systems. Utility-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS) are becoming a more common feature of the UK electricity network for the purpose of frequency regulation and balancing. There is also growing interest in the integration of storage systems with renewable technologies such as wind and solar. This technology has a vital role to play in the global energy mix. It provides an answer to one of the biggest challenges faced by renewable generators, the intermittent nature of supply, offering a way to capture clean energy and balance energy generation against demand. National Grid has highlighted energy storage as a key growth area and estimates that as much as 30GW installed capacity could be required by 2050. BESS projects introduce new challenges for operational personnel who may be more familiar with more well-known technologies. However, we can effectively apply the knowledge and experience gained in technologies such as wind and solar to BESS projects. While the use of batteries is nothing new, what is new is the size, complexity, and energy density of the systems, and the Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery

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