I read with great interest today that Horizon Power have introduced new standards recently for solar PV systems deployed on certain parts of their network that now require additional control mechanisms including “solar smoothing”.
Horizon Power, which services regional Western Australia, has introduced the changes to ensure that these “black holes” are avoided if large clouds pass by, for example. On large electricity networks this is a much less critical issue, but for Horizon Power, which operates a large number of diesel powered “micro networks” the issue can be quite pronounced.
Solar smoothing equipment essentially adds storage to solar PV systems avoiding sudden drops in solar power injection levels, which can make life very difficult for generators if solar PV penetration is high. The solar smoothing devices will provide back-up power to the grid while the generators ramp up and down – reducing the long term wear and tear of the equipment.
Horizon have set a range of “boundaries” around what is required, where and when which are summarised in the graph below and can be read about in more detail here.
Although this is a double edged sword – adding cost and complexity on the one hand and driving the deployment of advancements in solar with storage on the other – you have to acknowledge Horizon Power for not simply throwing their hands up in the air when it come to high PV penetration and integration issues.
The issue of solar PV storage has been a hot topic and many companies are heading towards market ready solutions and Horizon its seems, have just created a market for them, which is tremendously exciting.
WA based company Magellan Power has developed its own devices to address the opportunity and I called them today to get some background after reading an article on the issue here.
In short, they have a variety of customised solutions available and have been experimenting with LiPo batteries for several years in other applications, so are feeling confident that they have the right battery product. Like almost everyone else I have spoken to has told me, the key is in the Battery Management System (BMS) and Magellan have developed their own BMS in house.
Interestingly, although they offer a full turnkey package (batteries, inverter/charger, MPPT solar controller and housings) they are also able to integrate with existing inverters in some cases.
Ironically, it seems Horizon Power have moved the solar pv storage horizon just a little closer.