Solar 'plug and play'

22nd Mar 2013

The solar power industry continues to make strides, with regular innovations and developments happening around the globe.

One of these recent developments is the inception of 'plug and play' technology. For businesses or more industrial sites such as mines, this technology may help operators manage where their energy sources are coming from.

A plug and play system would be able to handle various sources of energy – both renewable and traditional – in order to service the specific needs of each particular site.

Such hybrid renewable energy systems combine renewable sources of power such as solar pv and wind with the non-renewables such as diesel.

The technology would result in newly-connected solar generation being automatically connected and configured by the main generation control system, reducing the need for expert labour and other costs.

This sort of technology will be particularly useful in locations such as Western Australia and the Northern Territory where remote areas make transport of people and equipment difficult and costly.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is collaborating with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and multinational engineering firm ABB for the development of this project.

Phase one of the project will involve the planning and further development of the technology, and during phase two the technology will be piloted at two sites – one in the US and in Australia.

"This plug and play technology is really aimed at reducing two key barriers to the uptake of solar energy in hybrid systems – cost and complexity. By simplifying the process of implementing, expanding and operating solar hybrid systems the technology will assist system developers, owners and operators and help maximise the contribution of solar energy in these systems," said Daniel Rowe, the project manager.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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