Enphase Microinverters Chosen For NSW Solar Microgrid Project

The Links - Enphase microinverters

The Links (sans solar panels)

Enphase IQ 7+ microinverters are to be used in a private solar-powered grid network for a retirement village on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.

The Links, which is aiming to be a carbon-neutral retirement village1, is still under construction and will ultimately feature 199 dwellings. Most of these homes will have 16 x 370-watt Jinko solar panels installed – 5.9kW systems.

But instead of the more common arrangement of having solar panels of each system sending their clean electricity into a single string inverter on each home, every module will have a microinverter attached.

The use of microinverters offer useful features including panel level monitoring, redundancy and improved safety. In terms of safety, the advantage is the microinverter converts DC to AC at the panel, rather than having high voltage DC running through cables in the roof.

The Links operator Sea Spirit Lifestyle Communities chose Enphase microinverter based systems due to their ease of installation, design flexibility, fire safety and proven track record.

The systems will be kitted out with Enphase Envoy communications gateways, connecting them to the Enlighten monitoring platform. Solar energy generated by the systems will be shared throughout the village, including helping to power swimming pools and the bowling club.

According to Enphase, simple payback for the $1.3 million cost of deploying the 1.2MW project is expected to be approximately 5 years.

Other sustainability features of homes at The Links include heat pump hot water systems and electric vehicle charging circuits for each home.

Battery Storage – Later

As for battery storage as part of the microgrid and although The Links’ website shows an image of Tesla Powerwall batteries, elsewhere it has been noted the first phase of the project involves only the solar power systems and associated necessary microgrid infrastructure. The deployment of a large community battery storage system may occur down the track.

That being the case, the village won’t be entirely energy self-sufficient – and probably wouldn’t be anyway even with storage. But the nature of a microgrid means it can operate connected or disconnected from the mains grid. For the electricity required that can’t be generated on-site, an initial supply agreement with Enova Community Energy has been inked that will deliver 100 per cent renewables-sourced electricity to residents.

Enova Community Energy is a “social enterprise energy retailer” sourcing all of its electricity from the rooftops of solar customers and renewable energy generator Diamond Energy; which has wind, solar and biogas generators in its portfolio. Enova has committed to putting  half of its profits after tax and reinvestment back into the community in the form energy efficiency, education and community projects.

Back to the topic of microinverters and with summer not far off, some may be wondering how Enphase gear copes with the sizzling temperatures experienced on rooftops during the hotter months. Discover how Enphase microinverters fare in summer.

Related: Choosing The Best Solar Inverter For You

Footnotes

  1. Or, as the promo puts it – an “over 55s lifestyle resort”/”over 55’s lifestyle community”, which sound far more energetic.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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