rss
24

Solar monitoring company wins $2.1m ARENA grant

Print Friendly

Sydney-based solar data start-up Solar Analytics has been awarded $2.1 million in grant funding from the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency, to fast-track its rooftop PV monitoring technology.

wa rooftop solar

The company, which is now part owned by AGL Energy, and developed the gentailer’s Solar Command App, has plans to install its smart solar monitoring technology in 25,000 homes by 2020 – so far, it has signed up are than 12,000 users in Australia.

The technology tracks the performance of residential solar PV systems, reporting the results back to the householder as well as identifying and correcting faults and inefficiencies – measures that have been shown to increase the energy yield of a rooftop solar system by as much as 15 per cent.

According to Solar Analytics’ estimates, more than half of all Australian rooftop solar systems are underperforming, while another 14 per cent are not working at all at any given point in time. Hardly any solar households – 5-10 per cent – use monitoring technology.

Solar Analytics is also eyeing overseas markets, after its solar monitoring hardware – the award-winning, Australian made Auditor metering device made by Solar Analytics partner WattWatchers – was approved, last month, for installation in Canada and the US.solaranalytics

“As more and more homes put on solar and energy storage, data becomes even more critical,” said Solar Analytics CEO Stefan Jarnason. “It let’s you decide when you should be charging the battery and when you should be using the energy in the home, and when you should be sending the energy back to the grid.”

“We also take in live weather data and we put all of that together so that we can then give useful information, valuable information back to the home owner,” he said.

“We can tell you what energy you’ve produced, what you should have produced, and if (your system is underperforming), we can tell you what to do about it.”  

Share this:

  • humanitarian solar

    Monitoring, remote configuration and remote control of unstaffed solar systems has been happening with Victron since 2008 according to the certificates of their products registration. What’s new about this Solar Analytics product? It appears to be only a monitoring device, not for upgrading firmware, configuration and control. Thanks ARENA for giving money to big business, not. Here’s a better piece of equipment which has been enabling us to do the job for almost a decade, only it also does remote firmware updates, remote configuration and remote control.

  • humanitarian solar

    Monitoring, remote configuration and remote control of unstaffed solar systems has been happening with Victron since 2008 according to the certificates of their products registration. What’s new about this Solar Analytics product? It appears to be only a monitoring device, not for upgrading firmware, configuration and control. Thanks ARENA for giving money to big business, not. Here’s a better piece of equipment which has been enabling us to do the job for almost a decade, only it also does remote firmware updates, remote configuration and remote control.

    • john

      Exactly as i feel this is just a waste of money.
      In fact I put together a simple excel file with instructions of how to input the information and have sent it to at least 5 people and it points out when there is a problem.
      This is not rocket science.

      • Mark Rowe

        What is the cost?

        • john

          The cost of the program nothing just your time to fill in the readings you can do this yourself.
          First of all set up a program with input boxes for the starting readings for your switchboard readings then the inverter readings.
          Then on any given day put in the same information.
          Save the outputs in Excel and then do graphs from the information.
          The best way of course to do this is to use the data generated by the inverter which you can directly down load to your computer which gives a lot more information than periodic readings.
          Which ever way you go it pays to check the inverter by cycling through the readings often and take notice of any changes for instance if 2 stings on same roof especially on a cloudy day one shows up as a lower output check the leakage for that string more than likely you have a panel that has suffered moisture intrusion and has an earth leakage.
          Visually check each panel to ensure it does not have any defects.

    • Darren Burgemeister

      without knowing more it reads as though Solar Analytics will integrate with the virtual power plant software AGL has.

      • humanitarian solar

        That’s what I got. So it’s really for AGL. They take control of our resources and offer us “options” for how our system resources are deployed. Option 1 for the desperate or financially challenged might be AGL gets absolute priority all the time, and Option 2 might be AGL gets half our system power when it’s desperate.

        • Darren Burgemeister

          remote dispatch and control of pv generators is required for the virtual power plant to work though when the entire transition is complete with distributed grid. Once completed transitioned it would be nigh impossible to bring down completely.

          I dont see it taking anything from anyone, but centralized control framework for VPP is necessary.

          And the VPP isnt just AGL’s baby, its the CSIRO’s. AGL just seems to see the value and has taken that ball and ran with it.

          https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/EF/Areas/Electricity-grids-and-systems/Intelligent-systems/Virtual-power-station

          • humanitarian solar

            Wouldn’t it all depend on how AGL decide to configure it and hence what options we’re offered?

          • Darren

            see Renate’s comment above.

            As for configuring. deX by Greensync/ARENA is probably the missing component. Ive tried to post this with a link 3 times, but only today did I notice it being marked as spam for some reason.

      • Renate

        Hi Darren – I’m a co-founder of Solar Analytics. We started as a small Australian company with a product for Solar Retailers who wanted to give customers confidence in their offering (where there is a lot of confusion about quality, payback and performance). Our preferred hardware, from Wattwatchers, is also a small Australian company and they are manufacturing in Australia

        AGL use some of our smarts in their offering, but the ARENA funding is to grow the Solar Retailer business – so it benefits the ‘small end’ of town, homeowners and an Australian start-up (Solar Analytics) and a small Australian manufacturer (Wattwatchers). It’s actually exactly where ARENA should be investing.

        What do we do?
        – we make monitoring easy (not everyone wants to run an excel spreadsheet (although that’s where we started) – and you get what you pay for with the free monitoring provided by your inverter).
        – For the solar retailer, Solar Analytics helps deliver on a sale where there’s a lack of clarity on what is a good product and who is a good installer.
        – For the home-owner it’s more than ‘monitoring’ it gives them insights into how better use the solar energy they produce, how big a battery they would need, what would be a better tariff for them and so on…

        We’ve grown now to have over 12,000 customers who use our product and have developed a heap of new features along the way.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9d2fecf6afbf211a5f302ed440f065340dc549738b4f86979447c237d4b130cf.png

        • Rod

          Hi Renate,
          I really should go to your website for more info and will if you wish. However others here may also be interested.

          I am in SA and have the new AGL “Smart” meter. I can’t find any info on a suitable indoor unit to suit their signal.
          The AGL web portal is awful even compared to my Wattson.
          Although I do love Wattson’s indoor display.

          I have a Fronius IG30 Inverter. I understand it can take a network card. No storage.

          So, at the moment I am manually reading both the meter and inverter weekly to get a good idea of house use, import, export. And of course the spreadsheet all the way back to 2001. Sad.

          Would you have a link to any further info to share?

          • Renate

            Hi Rod, I’m not sure what ‘smart meter’ you have, there are a few on the market. We use a neat little device from Wattwatcher (Australian made) – and the best value for money around for this purpose. It goes in the meter box and has three – six CT clamps which go around the wires from different circuits’. The device uses 3G comms (way more reliable than wifi) to get the data out and we then do smart stuff with it to give you the info you need.

            The data is displayed on your PC or phone, but it is also downloadable, so you can keep your spreadsheet up to date 🙂
            I share a picture of one of our demo sites below.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01fca0321497f5310d2d5c9e0edca3bf8cbaa8cb39a0b4b327ed9654172fe579.png

            You can ask your solar retailer to install us – or contact [email protected] and we can let you know who uses us in your area.

          • Rod

            Thanks Renata,
            My Wattson uses 2 (maybe 3) CT clamps and the Holmes software looks pretty similar but probably not as accurate.
            If/when I get storage I might look into some more accurate monitoring.

        • Darren

          Thank you for the reply and clarification.

          Up in Nth Qld. Just following all of this as closely as possible.
          With pricing up here seemingly outrageous (atleast our last bill was).

          We had a 5kw but things happened, unfortunately. (currently decommissioned). We are looking to get all new panels/wiring redone but are having a hard time getting quotes from people.

          When yasi went through we lost power for a significant time.

          Any potential of Ergon doing something similiar?

          • Renate

            Hi Darren – so for the slow response. We’re keeping ourselves real busy. You can have the Solar Analytics service independent of your retailer (=Ergon). We have a number of providers in QLD. You can just ask your solar installer to provide it with your new system. Or we can put you in contact with one of our resellers who work in your area if you email [email protected].
            I hope you’ve stayed dry in the last weeks. R

  • john

    All anyone has to do is use the software that comes with the Inverter and download the data and if need be hook it up to your mobile phone if you are in so of need of instant knowledge.
    I can not see the need for a duplication of presently available software that the consumer already pays for.
    If one has the ability to actually read the data information on their meter and Inverter they can do the same with a simple excel file.
    Frankly if this software is aimed at those who do not have the capability to do the above there is no way they will be able to use another software suite.
    So my finding this is a waste of time and effort frankly.

    • humanitarian solar

      I haven’t installed mine yet but basically that’s how my monitoring device works. It connects to the inverter/charger with an ethernet cable, then the monitoring device has an ethernet cable to the NBN router. Once the information is on the web, it can be seen by any phone, iPad or computer given access, including the manufacturer if I’m in need of technical support. The device itself also has a really nice overview pictorial home screen, showing what power is currently coming from where, grid, wind turbine, diesel generator, array 1, 2 etc, inverter and the net of whats going in and out of the battery. I haven’t got all this stuff, but absolutely every piece of equipment in the solar system is connected to the monitoring device, and is also available in graphs on our remote computer. Additionally if its a yacht or mobile application, an additional device with a SIM card can send the information over the mobile phone network when a tower comes within range and has data storage for when the mobile phone tower isn’t in range. There’s also a GPS device that connects to the monitoring equipment so the GPS location is mapped as well, to make sure we don’t lose our yacht or motorhome, if the kid has taken it for a trip somewhere.

      • john

        Exactly the software is included with every installation.
        And yes i agree it can be used anywhere if sufficient knowledge is in the consumers ability.
        This however is of no contribution what so ever as i see it.

    • Nige

      Sorry to hear SolarAnalytics isn’t for you, but that’s life everyone has different needs for sure. I’ve installed and used a heap of monitoring products over my 25 years in solar (before joining SolarAnalytics) and yep they all have strengths and weaknesses which apply to different people. Our installers tell us the 15m install time and 3G saves a significant amount of time, and live the fleet view. Being product agnostic it can be used with any inverter which keeps their life simple. End users tell us they like the simplicity of the dashboard and reliability of 3G. Utilities like it because we can drill down to 5sec data on 6 channels at +/- 0.5% accuracy. Personally, I like the fact that it converts data into meaningful insights for users aka “we’ve detected shading” or “we think a string fault has accorded on your inverter” etc. The product and services SA offer certainly aren’t perfect but have some truly unique (patented) algorithms making it super smart, a key difference. ARENA’s support for an Australian start up is hugely valuable and will hep SA grow. Worth noting that whilst AGL are a valued investor, the majority of shares are held by founders, staff and private investors.

  • Ian

    What Au. products can do monitoring (of pv and batteries) and controlling (of things such as heat pumps)?
    In NSW. …existing pv and 5yo SMA inverter..

    • humanitarian solar

      Isn’t Selectronic Australian and their gear can be programmed to control a number of 230V AC applications and DC applications. My installer who does my AC programmed his bosses, to do clean his pool and heat the cement slab before he gets home. So one decides what applications one wishes to happen, and the inverter is programmed to do them during the solar day. Despite what this website does and doesn’t promote, Selectronic are a very popular though top end of the market, highly engineered product, especially good for more complex applications and extensive grid interaction profiles.
      http://www.selectronic.com.au

      • MaxG

        Selectronic IMHO makes rock-solid gear (so good, the Germans buy it it from them!), and do you do get what you pay for — however, it has nothing to do with ‘complex’; in fact it is simple to operate… actually it is set and forget once configured properly.
        Yes, some of the gear is grid-interacting (like the SP PRO GO), and other gear is for off-grid. 10 year warranty by the way… and I would buy it without (how good it is). No I have no share or affiliation, but I won one! … connected to a 20kWh LiFePO4 battery… http://www.pvoutput.org/list.jsp?p=0&sid=34144 — select any day other than today and select the purple square under the graph for details.