Power & Energy Solutions

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The year 2019 saw rapid growth in the solar PV tracker market, with most vendors doubling or at least significantly expanding their shipments from the previous year. Much of that activity was in the US, which represented 50% of global tracker sales and expanded its production by over 200%. Part of the reason for that growth was the US policy environment. In a process called ‘safe harbor,’ solar developers were scrambling to ensure that they could either purchase components or start their projects before the end of the year in order to be eligible for the 30% Investment Tax Credit, which is now gradually declining each year. However, safe harbor was only responsible for 30-40% of the market expansion, according to Renewable Energy World. The rest is due to recognition of the superior efficiency of tracking systems, which can increase solar production by 15-25% under the right conditions. As the utility-scale solar sector continues to lead the renewable energy industry in growth worldwide, investors are looking for every opportunity to maximize energy production and return on investment. FTC Solar is no exception to booming growth rates for tracker sales in 2019. After launching our business in 2017, we contracted over 500MW in 2019,

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In this article, Marco Trova, Senior Global Product Manager at FIMER S.p.A., talks us through some of the myths associated with Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to help engineers and installers specify the right approach to maximize yields and efficiency. MPPT is often fitted as standard in state-of-the-art inverters, yet many users still don’t understand its use and functionality within a solar array to get the optimum results from the technology. Headlines for MPPT tend to focus on efficiency and it is often positioned as an inverter feature to help the user improve energy harvest. At a technical level it is an algorithm that is used for extracting the maximum available power from the PV module by dynamically detecting the voltage operating point that results in the maximum energy transfer under certain conditions. These statements are true. However, MPPT is not solely focused on increasing yield but also on optimization, as energy within the solar array constantly modulates and changes. Optimization is dependent on several factors including: shading from clouds, solar radiation levels, ambient temperatures, PV plants that are built with varying degrees of topology and/or strings exposed to different angles of irradiation right through to the condition of the PV module

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It was a great pleasure for us at PES to speak with Kees Hoogendijk, Managing Director, EKO Europe. Accuracy is of paramount importance to this company and now they have made improvements to their already world famous pyranometer and launched the new MS-80S, with multiple added aspects of value for their customers. To produce the smartest, most innovative, accurate, and best in class sensors on the market remains their quest, so we’re sure we can expect more in the future. PES: Hi Kees, welcome back to PES Solar. We have worked with EKO for many years and it’s good to have the chance to speak with you. For the benefit of our new readers could you give us a brief overview of EKO? What products are you best known for? Kees Hoogendijk: EKO Instruments was founded in Japan over 90 years ago, and develops industry-leading solar energy sensors, and scientific instruments for environmental research. One of our most famous products is the MS-80 pyranometer. We launched it in 2016 and until recently it was the only ISO 9060:2018 Class A solar sensor on the market in the top tier ‘fast-response’ and ‘spectrally flat’ sub-categories. We’ve since launched the MS-80S so there are now

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PES thought it was time to catch up on the latest news from Ecoppia. We had a very interesting interview with Oscar Aira Zunzunegui, VP Sales. This go-ahead company is a top player in automation and robotics for large-scale solar and their cloud-based, connected platform and an array of robotic solutions allow smart management of solar plants. Even during this global pandemic, Ecoppia successfully managed to keep an optimal production as always. PES: Welcome to PES Solar/PV Oscar, it’s great to have this opportunity to speak with Ecoppia again. Would you like to begin by giving us a brief overview of Ecoppia? Oscar Aira: Thank you for having me. In the past 7 years, since late 2013, Ecoppia has been a pioneer and world leader in automation and robotics in the solar industry, offering robotic cleaning solutions for PV modules, keeping them clean, at a year-round peak performance. Our cloud-based, autonomous robotic systems remove dust and soiling from solar panels, typically, on a nightly basis, while leveraging advanced machine learning. Managed and controlled remotely, our platform allows solar projects to maintain maximum performance with a minimal cost and no human intervention. We offer the Ecoppia E4 solution to fixed tilt installations, mainly in

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Steve Davies, EMEA Photovoltaics Market Manager, took time out of his busy schedule to talk to PES about DuPont Teijin Films’ products and the importance of sustainability, not just during the lifespan of the product, but also at the end of life. Thinking ahead is crucial in this. PES: Hi Steve, welcome to PES Solar/PV. Thanks for talking with us. Would you like to begin by explaining a little about the background of DuPont Teijin Films and how you currently serve the solar/PV industry? Steve Davies: DuPont Teijin Films are a global leading polyester film producer with manufacturing based in Europe, US and Asia. We are proud to use our scientific and technical excellence to develop innovative products which deliver maximum value for the industries we serve with the minimum impact on the environment. In the solar industry we are the leading supplier of halogen free film for backsheets with over 45GW of installed capacity worldwide relying on the unique set of properties delivered by Mylar® UVHPET™ based backsheets. We have over 60 years’ experience of supplying Mylar® into highly demanding electrical insulation applications and 20 years of ongoing developments supporting the growth in the PV industry. With zero reported field failures, our

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Solar Power International (SPI), Energy Storage International (ESI), and North America Smart Energy Week, powered by the leading solar organizations the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), is gathering solar, smart energy, energy storage, and hydrogen + fuel cells professionals virtually in 2020. PES is thrilled to bring you this show close-up. Plus, if you miss the live event it will be available on demand. SPI, ESI, and North America Smart Energy Week’s has gone online in 2020 with seven Virtual Education Micro conferences and a Virtual Tradeshow. The Full Conference education attendees have come to expect from North America Smart Energy Week is now separated into six weeks of focused micro conferences. Running from September 14th to October 27th, participants can access premier education from across the renewable energy industry: solar energy, storage, hydrogen, microgrids, electric vehicles, wind energy, and more, right at home or their office. Each micro conference features multiple live sessions, as well as a handful of on demand content they can watch later. Attendees in 2020 can also join an ‘Office Hours’ experience at the end of each day of sessions. Office Hours give them the opportunity to engage in a video

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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 10 years while

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PES had a great catch up with Mark Kingsley, CEO of Alion Energy, California. Leaders in solutions for trackers and O&M robotics and currently enjoying the bifacial surge in our industry. Although the current Covid 19 situation presenting some challenges, he has no doubt about the future opportunities. PES: Hi Mark, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to PES Solar. Would you like to begin by giving our readers a brief overview of Alion Energy? Mark Kingsley: Alion Energy is a total solutions provider for bifacial trackers and O&M robotics. Our brand promise is ’The Most Power from PV’ as we use integrated design to combine reflective foundations and cleaning robotics, with a patented A-frame + ballasted tracker. System design optimizes our tracker’s steel content to <18 metric tons per MWp, which allows for both a stronger and cost competitive design. PES: Would you say the solar/PV industry is expanding at the moment? MK: Very much so. Bifacial has finally arrived in force and our industry’s economics vs alternative sources of energy have never been better. PES: Please could you tell us about your tracker solutions? MK: The design goal was to enable unsubsidized solar PV to compete directly with combined cycle gas turbine economics.

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Have you seen pictures of Berlin, Paris or London lately? Or perhaps Bogotá, Boston or the Philippines? One thing they all have in common are ‘temporary’ bike lanes, which have suddenly appeared all across these cities. But it doesn’t stop with bike lanes. We’ve seen things like data centres and hospitals pop-up all over the world in recent months, just think of the 1000 bed hospital that was built in Wuhan within only eight days. Each one has something in common; they show how the COVID crisis, and the unprecedented containment measures it set off, has changed the bar on what was once thought possible, with changes, thought to require years, now happening overnight. The energy industry is no exception to the sweeping impacts of the pandemic. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global lockdown and subsequent dramatic slow-down in economic activity could lead to the biggest fall in energy demand in 70 years.1 It also sent the price of raw materials, and fossils fuels in particular, tumbling. Because of an excess of supply, oil prices even briefly went negative in April2. Coal also saw its largest decline since the end of the Second World War3. Demand, and with

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PES thought it was time to find out more about, SMA America and Brad Dore, Director of Marketing was happy to oblige. A global specialist company in PV, providing innovative solutions to their customers and setting standards for decentralized renewable energy. Read on to find out about optimization, roof top safety, collaboration, their vast international reach and much more. PES: Welcome to PES Solar/PV Brad, it’s great to have this opportunity to speak with you. Would you like to begin by giving us a brief overview of SMA America? Brad Dore: SMA America is the U.S. based subsidiary of SMA Solar Technology, a leading global specialist in photovoltaic system technology. SMA America is responsible for SMA’s sales and service operations in the America’s region. PES: Could you tell us about the traditional methods of optimization and your approach to it? BD: When installers set out to optimize a system, they are looking to improve energy harvest and simplify service, while addressing all relevant code requirements for installation. In much of North America, the presumed way to do this is through the addition of power conditioning devices on each module. While this method has some advantages, it comes with significant drawbacks including a high component count

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