Archives from Months February, 2014

Tech Tip: Getting the most out of Sunny Portal

SMA’s Sunny Portal is the free monitoring headquarters for solar systems ranging from small-scale residential to a large-scale solar parks.

In this Tech Tip, Nick Borrowiec of SMA’s Service Department provides an overview of setting up and taking advantage of Sunny Portal’s key features like remote monitoring, email alerts and energy production reports.

Have a question for the Solar Academy trainers? Send it to socialmedia@sma-america.com and we might just answer your question in our next Tech Tip!

5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

Solar spotlight: PV in paradise

The British Virgin Islands, known for beautiful beaches and miles of serene coastline, are ideal for rest and relaxation. For travelers looking to escape big-city type noise, the diesel generators powering most vacation resorts wasn’t a welcome sound. Generating electricity on remote Caribbean islands used to be a dirty job, until hybrid solar power systems started cleaning it up.

Sunny Islands line a wall at the Cooper Island Beach Club.

Sunny Islands line a wall at the Cooper Island Beach Club.

Becoming eco-friendly

When the Cooper Island Beach Club changed ownership in 2008, the new owners wanted to develop and eco-friendly resort while improving guest amenities and services. The resort’s ownership worked with Alternative Energy Systems of the BVI to design a hybrid energy system to reduce diesel fuel consumption and subsequent noise created by the generators.

The system, installed in phases to grow with the resort over four years, began with 90 Kyocera 210W modules, nine Sunny Island 5048 inverters, three Sunny Boy 7000-US inverters and 243 kWh of battery storage. Phases two and three saw the addition of 63 Kyocera 245W modules, three Sunny Island 5048 inverters and four Sunny Boy 4000-US inverters, plus an additional 198 kWh of battery storage. A Multicluster Box connects the system’s 34 kW of PV, battery banks and generators to ensure simple and care-free operation.

“Choosing SMA for this project was simple,” said Jacco Bos, professional engineer and managing director of AES. “SMA offered the full solution to meet our customer’s fuel saving goals and made it easy to expand the system based on the resort’s growth.”

Results
Guest facilities with rooftop arrays and beachfront views.

Guest facilities with rooftop arrays and beachfront views.

A 70 percent reduction in fuel consumption was achieved after completion of the third phase. Generators now run between four and eight hours a day, at or near full capacity to handle peak energy demands. Prior to installing the PV-diesel hybrid system, the two 65 kVa generators ran near continuously, often inefficiently at idle to support minor loads. Reducing that idle operating time was the single-largest contributor to fuel savings.

The system was designed to run the generators during morning and evening load peaks and as-needed to charge the resort’s battery banks. During non-peak hours, the resort is able to operate solely on power from the PV system and batter bank.

“After four years of operation, the most impressive aspect is the minimal maintenance required,” said Bos. “The Sunny Islands have been operating for more than 30,000 hours and only need routine cleaning and electrical torques.  Compared to a diesel engine, which requires regular oil changes, rebuilds and replacement by this time, the SMA inverters are proving to be highly reliable.”

Stunning beaches and clear waters are reason enough to incorporate eco-friendly business practices.

Stunning beaches and clear waters are reason enough to incorporate eco-friendly business practices.

Beyond Solar

For Cooper Island’s new ownership, eco-friendly goes deeper than implementing renewable energy. The resort has begun an aggressive makeover to ensure sustainable operations are implemented whenever possible. To date, the resort has installed a solar hot water system, rainwater cisterns, LED lighting and drip irrigation systems.

To help sustain the reefs and oceans surrounding Cooper Island, biodegradable and reef-friendly cleaning products have become standard use. Recycling, composting and reuse of fryer oil for bio-diesel have also raised the resort’s sustainability efforts without sacrificing guests’ experience.

The Cooper Island Beach Club’s dedication to renewable energy and sustainability has continued to grow with the resort’s popularity. Plans for future expansion include additional renewable energy sources; we look forward to seeing the next phase of Cooper Island’s success.

Solar Spotlight aims to highlight SMA inverters in real-world situations. Email us with information about your SMA-powered PV projects at SocialMedia@SMA-America.com.

4.75 avg. rating (94% score) - 4 votes

Challenge Accepted: Limited roof space trumped by the desire for solar

There is no lack on sunshine in Chandler, Arizona. Residents of this Phoenix suburb enjoy 211 days of sunshine annually with an additional 85 days of partial sun—perfect for solar power. But a residential PV system needs more than just abundant sunshine to be a wise choice. It also needs a willing partner – a roof capable of handling the added demands of a solar power system. This was the challenge faced by Jeff Spies, Senior Director of Business Development for Quick Mount PV when he made the decision to install a 4.7 kW system on his home.

Raising the roof
Flashed Quick Hooks for tile roofs are nearly hidden and provide reliable 30 year waterproofing and robust mounting to the roof.

Flashed Quick Hooks for tile roofs are nearly hidden and provide reliable 30 year waterproofing and robust mounting to the roof.

Before a single module was installed, Spies knew the condition of his roof wouldn’t last the 30 years he expects of his PV system. Fortunately, American Solar is licensed for both solar and roof work and was ready for the job.

The tile roof’s 16-year-old deteriorated felt underlayment was upgraded to #90 mineral surface roofing underlayment and drain-through battens replaced original wood battens to maximize rainwater drainage. Plumbing and gas vent stacks were also removed or relocated to make room for the array.

The finished appearance of the first story array is very attractive—no visible flashing.

Mounting and positioning

Once the roof was deemed solar-ready, installers used Quick Mount PV’s flashed Quick Hook and Ironrdige standard rail. This configuration fully conceals the roof flashing to maximize the array’s appearance.

Serious consideration was also given to the array’s orientations. With no true-south facing roof area, the system was designed using two separate strings of LG 260W Mono X Series modules, 18 total, on different rooflines, taking advantage of the dual channel inputs and MPP tracking on the Sunny Boy 4000TL-US. By positioning one string southeast (3.1kW) and one southwest (1.6 kW), power production and roof space were both maximized.

Secure Power Supply

No one wants to gamble on a grid failure, especially on a hot Arizonan summer day. But if it happens, Spies knows he has a game plan. The TL-US series’ Secure Power Supply is a switched outlet that provides up to 1,500W of standby power should the grid go down during daylight hours.

American Solar's Will Herndon and Jeremy Lippens after routing the secure power supply outlet inside the home.

American Solar’s Will Herndon and Jeremy Lippens after routing the secure power supply outlet inside the home.

“The SPS outlet is wired inside my house and stays hidden when I don’t need it,” said Spies. “But it provides peace of mind knowing that when we have a power failure, I’ve got standby power to keep my fridge cold and my phone charged so my family and I can stay in touch.”

Long-term planning is an integral part of a PV system’s design. From roof repairs and weatherization to Secure Power Supply to help mitigate downtime from grid outages, thorough planning can make or break a PV system’s effectiveness. Good planning means this house is ready to handle whatever the conditions throw at it.

4.86 avg. rating (96% score) - 7 votes

How does the SMA Fuel Save Solution work?

The SMA Fuel Save Solution combines diesel and photovoltaics into a hybrid system, minimizing CO2 emissions and high fuel costs. If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve also posted a few articles on PV diesel hybrid systems, each describing PV diesel hybrid systems and what steps must be taken to install and manage such a system

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5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 5 votes

Davidson Automotive Group Quadruples PV Capacity with 800 kW Expansion

Davidson Automotive Group—which sells new and used Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC , Ford, and Nissan vehicles in Watertown, N.Y.—started out small…at least with its photovoltaic array. However, to fully demonstrate its commitment to renewable energy—and to take advantage of increased energy savings—the company quadrupled its existing 200 kW solar system by adding 800 kW of installed capacity, all with the help of SMA’s Sunny Boy inverters and Sunny Tower mounting system.

Project Details

Kevin Bailey, owner and operator of Troy, N.Y.-based High Peaks Solar, expanded Davidson’s PV system by installing 3,137 Suniva MVX 255W modules and 96 Sunny Boy 7000-US inverters mounted on 16 Sunny Towers. According to Bailey, the decision to use SMA products—particularly the Sunny Tower—for this project was a strategic one. “SMA inverters offer the best track record in the industry for reliability and durability and have no problem operating in the sub-zero temperatures that Watertown can experience,” he explained. “Also, the Sunny Tower system provided the design flexibility we needed to create very concise system sizing in order to meet state PV incentive program requirements.”

With the additional 750,000 kWh produced each year, the entire system now offsets as much as 100 percent of the energy needs of the five dealerships that comprise Davidson Automotive Group.

Solar Spotlight aims to highlight SMA inverters in real-world situations. Email us with information about your SMA-powered PV projects at SocialMedia@SMA-America.com.  

5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 4 votes

Measure This! A look inside the Solar Academy’s PV simulator

Keeping up with advancements in PV systems can be a daunting task. New technologies and design concepts offer endless possibilities for system configurations.

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5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 votes

Tech Tip: SMA Sunny Island Smartformer

The Smartformer for Sunny Island is a 120 V/240 V autoformer that’s ideally configured for AC-coupled systems using a Sunny Island and a Sunny Boy. Getting it ready for commissioning is a simple, straight-forward process.

In this Tech Tip, Solar Academy trainer Greg Smith demonstrates how to connect each of the components in a typical grid-tied or off-grid AC-coupled system using an SMA Smartformer.

Have a question for the Solar Academy trainers? Send it to socialmedia@sma-america.com and we might just answer your question in our next Tech Tip! 

5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

Utah’s first energy-neutral mixed-use building unveiled in Salt Lake City

Mixed-use buildings are becoming a popular sight in today’s urban development landscape. Combining residential and commercial space provides diversified opportunities for property managers and the unique option for residents to live mere steps away from where they work—creating a commute-free living scenario.

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5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 votes