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Easy, Reliable and Cost-Effective Rapid Shutdown Compliance Utilizing the SunSpec Standard

The requirements of 2017 and 2020 National Electric Code (NEC) section 690.12 – entitled Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings – currently mean that module-level power electronic (MLPE) devices must be installed with PV systems installed on buildings, even if they are not appropriate for energy optimization reasons.  As microinverters and standard DC optimizers solutions are closed, proprietary solutions, their use locks installers into depending on a single source for equipment and replacements.

As discussed in the first blog post of this series, the SunSpec Alliance has the goal of creating industry-wide standards to resolve issues like compliance with Rapid Shutdown requirements. Their Rapid Shutdown standard allows for multiple vendors to certify equipment to an open, published standard – allowing installers to choose between interoperable devices and avoid being locked into a closed ecosystem to comply with code.

SMA rapid shutdown certified devices.

SMA has been a global leader in PV technology for almost 40 years.  SMA America will celebrate its 20th anniversary in September 2020 and has long been a technology leader: first with UL certified inverter-integrated AFCI as well as the first to achieve UL1741 SA smart inverter certification. SMA’s success is based on ensuring that it delivers safe and reliable equipment that reduces the time installers must spend on a roof installing or servicing PV equipment.  With Rapid Shutdown now requiring module-level power electronics for rooftop PV systems, SMA faced a daunting challenge to provide a fully code-compliant solution that also minimizes reliability impacts, while ensuring optimal energy yields. The SunSpec rapid shutdown standard provided a perfect complement to SMA’s ShadeFix optimized residential and commercial string inverters to achieve this goal.

The functioning of the SunSpec rapid shutdown process is very straightforward.  Two components are required – a transmitter and some number of receivers.  The transmitter is responsible for imparting the SunSpec rapid shutdown power-line signal onto the DC conductors that go between the array and the inverter.  The receivers are responsible for detecting the signal on those conductors.  While the signal is present, the receivers do nothing. When the signal disappears, the receivers are responsible for lowering the array voltage below the code limits within the code specified time after rapid shutdown is “initiated”. They isolate their modules from the string they are part of, without breaking the string, and provide a low, “standby” voltage on their output conductors if the SunSpec signal is absent. This power-line communication signal is a “keep-alive” signal that does not require any additional wired or wireless communications channel between the array and inverter. It is important to highlight that the SunSpec certified receivers do not perform any power conditioning function or transmit information about the array operation, thereby allowing them to be very simple and robust devices.  This is important, as there may be many hundreds of these devices scattered throughout the harshest environmental conditions of a single large commercial rooftop installation. Time spent servicing failed MLPE devices is time not spent installing. rapid-shutdown-cert_vert-color

SMA America has integrated a transmitter certified to the SunSpec rapid shutdown standard into both our residential Sunny Boy US-41 and commercial CORE1 US-41 inverter lines. This transmitter, when enabled during commissioning, begins to impart onto the DC conductors connected to the array the SunSpec rapid shutdown “keep-alive” signal.

SMA’s approved SunSpec certified rapid shutdown receiver can support most residential and commercial module choices, meaning only this part needs to be sourced when using either SMA’s residential or commercial string inverters. This makes stocking and allocating inventory as easy as possible for installers and equipment distributors. Furthermore, SMA’s string inverters do not require the SunSpec shutdown receiver units to function, so if the PV system does not require rapid shutdown (e.g. a ground mount) then the receivers are simply not installed. Commissioning with SunSpec shutdown is fast since there is no detection step required for these MLPE or a layout map creation step for module-level monitoring.

The SMA inverter-integrated SunSpec transmitters are configured to stop broadcasting the “keep-alive” signal whenever the inverter senses a loss of utility voltage and frequency on its AC terminals. A first responder will shut off utility power to a site as an initial step to fight a fire, so this means the rapid shutdown “initiator” – loss of AC power – is something that would be done even if that responder has no formal training on how to recognize and utilize rapid shutdown equipment on a PV system.

Finally, the existence of the SunSpec rapid shutdown open standard means that multiple vendors can provide receiver devices that mirror trends in the PV module market. More devices with a wider range of options and sizes are available to installers than SMA alone could reasonably provide, and module manufacturers can even build the receiver capability within their module’s junction box directly. These devices (and the installer installing them) are not dependent on an SMA inverter to ensure rapid shutdown code compliance, simply another certified transmitter, inverter-integrated or stand-alone.

The existence of the SunSpec rapid shutdown standard has allowed SMA America to improve its ShadeFix optimized string inverters to provide the industry’s fastest-to-install, most reliable and cost-effective solution for any PV system needing to achieve 2017 or 2020 NEC 690.12 compliance.

 

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Solar Installation in a Class of Its Own

Carport solar project brings savings to the classroom and the environment.

Students returning to the Smithtown High School West campus this fall will park under a new clean energy solar parking structure. The new solar installation brings the benefits of carports—a cost-effective and innovative way to generate power—to Smithtown, a sprawling eastern New York City suburb on Long Island.

Solar carport with CORE1 inverters

The school district administration understood the carport solar project would significantly reduce the overall electricity bill for the campus. Those savings are now reinvested in educational programs, proving educational solar projects are an investment in the future, in both education and the environment.

By installing solar panels on a parking structure, Smithtown High School West can now leverage this otherwise under-utilized surface to produce clean electricity and actively lower energy costs every day. The system was installed by Sunrise Power Solutions, the leading solar energy partner to the K-12 educational market in the New York area.

“This is a popular option among the K-12 municipal industry as money saved from lower energy bills can be directly reallocated back into education,” said Kristian Ingebrigtsen, chief operations officer at Sunrise Power Solutions.Solar carport

The carport features 5,421 JA Solar panels and 29 SMA SUNNY TRIPOWER CORE1 inverters. The CORE1 products were ultimately selected for this project because of their flexibility,

reliability and competitive cost, which the school district considered as factors that would benefit the community.

“We were proud to work on this project as we know it will benefit the community for years to come,” said Ingebrigtsen .

The project has a total size of 2.06 MW and an estimated annual output of 3.345 KWH. Based on projections, the parking structure will offset 90% of the energy production for the campus, reducing both budget expenses and the amount of carbon in the environment.

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Argentinian Company Unearths Clean, Renewable Technology

In Cerro Negro Córdoba, Argentina, sits the Fluorita Cerro Negro hybrid PV-diesel plant. It powers a mining operation that specializes in fluorite extraction and processing, without any grid service to power its operations. Historically, the facility has used diesel generators to keep the power on. This process previously required 42 liters of diesel fuel per hour of operation.

To achieve cost-savings efficiencies and utilize cleaner, renewable technology, the facility has now transitioned to a new PV-diesel hybrid solution. The project features two SMA Sunny Tripower CORE1-50 inverters. In total, the project is estimated to produce more than 150,000 annual kilowatt-hours of energy. The PV system also includes 600 Amerisolar panels on a Magnelis® steel structure and one SMA Hybrid Controller S.

The installation is expected to generate a savings of 45,000 liters (11,800 gallons) of fuel per year, preventing approximately 135 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year—the equivalent of planting 7,158 trees annually. But the benefits of the installation at the plant extend beyond this environmental benefit.

CORE1 commercial inverter“SMA provides a complete hybrid generation solution with additional features for full integration
between inverters and PPC,” said Juan José Aparicio, system engineer at Ascentio Technologies. “The implemented solution also has a friendly interface that allows remote support, a specialized SCADA solution through Sunny Portal, on-site weather information and performance ratio calculation with real-time trend analysis to simplify activities from O&M.”

When possible, the Hybrid Controller (HyCon) allows PV energy to be used with priority over the energy from the generator. HyCon also protects generators against common problems related to reverse power, the power factor or spinning reserve assurance.

At the facility-level, full integration and digital remote management ultimately made fault detection, isolation and recovery services simple. These benefits are especially valuable in locations, such as Cerro Negro Córdoba, where specialized services are expensive due to distance and difficult access.

The engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the installation at the hybrid PV-diesel plant was completed in 4 months, launching in late 2019.

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Tech Tip: Installation of the TS4-R-F Line of SMA-Compatible SunSpec Certified Rapid Shutdown Receivers

In our latest Tech Tip video, SMA Solar Academy Senior Technical Trainer Mike Mahon demonstrates how to install the TS4-R-F line of SMA-compatible SunSpec certified rapid shutdown receivers.

These devices, when paired with the SMA US-41 line of Sunny Boy or CORE1 inverters, provide easy-to-install, reliable, module-level shutdown to meet all the 2017 and 2020 NEC requirements.

The Tech Tip video covers the installation of SMA’s TS4-R-F unit—the first SunSpec certified shutdown receiver tested to ensure full compatibility with the Sunny Boy US-41 and CORE1 US-41 lines.

To learn more about all the benefits of the TS4-R-F line, watch this video or visit the webpage.

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Paradise Energy Solar Carport Project Revs Up the Savings

When the team at Turn 14 Distribution, a premium vehicle performance warehouse distributor with corporate headquarters in Horsham, Pennsylvania, wanted to install a solar project, it turned to the experts at Paradise Energy. Paradise Energy is a full-service solar installation company that provides turnkey, grid-tied solar installations throughout the mid-Atlantic region for businesses, farmers and homeowners.

Paradise Energy

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Solar Power Shreds Carbon Pollution at Coconut Processing Facility in Guyana

On the banks of the tropical Pomeron River in Guyana sits the Pomeroon Oil coconut processing facility. Historically, the facility ran on 227 liters of diesel fuel daily. Now, solar panels harvest the sun’s energy to power the facility. The environmental impact is the equivalent to 6 acres of forest planted per day, creating perfect cyclical harmony for a location that processes fruit.

Pomeroon Oil coconut processing facility

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Central American Clothing Manufacturer Decks Out Its Facilities with Solar Energy

Pinehurst MFG, a distinguished textile manufacturing company, is trusted with clothing production by world-renowned brands such as ADIDAS. The company now powers its operations using a solar system with SMA inverters.

Commercial solar Honduras

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Hilton Hotel Upgrades to Energy Independence

Nestled in the exclusive Villa Fontana area of Managua, Nicaragua, lies the modern DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. Guests have long relaxed in the spacious rooms featuring elegant décor and breathtaking views of Managua Lake. With the new solar installation, guests now also know they are supporting a business that isn’t dependent on fossil fuels.

Solar system Managua

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Out with the Old, in with the New!

Are you looking for the most up-to-date and effective way to optimize a PV system? Join SMA America and Solar Power World to learn how on June 18, 2020 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT. Click here to register!

SMA Sunny Boy with ShadeFix optimization

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A Sunny Upgrade for Our Four-Legged Friends

Tucked into the northeast tip of Long Island lies the town of Southold. It’s a picturesque waterfront region with beaches, vineyards and now the first animal shelter in the state to be powered by solar energy.

Solar system drone photo

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Cattle Ranch Beefs Up Savings with Solar Energy

Argentina’s first solar energy plant for self-consumption earns attention!

Sistema solar comercial con SMA

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Differentiate your Business with Help from SMA

How can you better stand out amongst your competitors while maintaining a lean operation? In this SMA PowerUP Trusted Solar Energy Partner blog post series, we have talked about the perks of being a member including: special sales and pricing benefits, exclusive training and installation assistance, as well as priority service support. But there’s more! As a PowerUP member you get exclusive resources that will boost your marketing reach and help you reach customers more effectively.

Smart home control on tablet. Interior of living room in the background.

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