Innovative business models and projects as well as forward-looking ideas were presented by the winners of The smarter E AWARD 2018, which was given this year for the first time.
Ferroamp Elektronik AB, indielux UG and SMA Solar Technology AG received the coveted award in the "Smart Renewable Energy" category. Bach Khoa Investment Development of Solar Energy Corporation, First Solar GmbH, and Unlimited Energy Australia /TESVOLT GmbH won within the "Outstanding Projects" category. The winners were presented and awarded at 5 pm on 20 June 2018 at The smarter E Forum in Hall B2, booth 570.
The smarter E AWARD celebrates 2018 its premiere. The jury was called to rate from dozens of submissions. In the "Outstanding Projects", the focus was on the integration or substitution of existing energy markets. Photovoltaics is often combined with storage technologies to ensure the availability and stability of renewable energy. This creates opportunities that can help to significantly improve people's lives, generate new business models or give a decisive impetus to existing enterprises. In the "Smart Renewable Energy" category, there was a strong trend towards sector coupling, this is the linking of electricity, heat and mobility. Here, the electrification of the heat and mobility sectors is clearly the driving factor.
Most outstanding projects
Bach Khoa Investment Development of Solar Energy Corporation (SolarBK): Solar Experience Space – the combination of leisure, learning and research
“Small changes make big differences,” and this company philosophy comes to life at The Solar Experience Space at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology in Vietnam, with around 24,000 students. A zero-energy building, this community project is an educational space for young people, especially students, to learn about clean energy. The Solar Experience Space combines leisure, learning, and research with a small café integrated in the building. It is the first of its kind in Vietnam, showcasing products, technologies and solutions by Vietnamese scientists and engineers. Installed technology includes integrated photovoltaic and solar thermal solutions and heat pumps, and, soon, advanced batteries and desalination systems. The goal is to develop a department of clean energy at the university.
The jury was impressed by the lighthouse implications of this future-oriented community project that translates and transports clean energy technology into society, particularly to young people. Its integrated approach makes it especially relevant for the next generation of engineers and solar professionals in a region with a high potential for PV deployment. It actively demonstrates what can be achieved with PV technology in Vietnamese homes and businesses, and by the solar engineers of the future. It’s an affordable, replicable solution with high visibility and economic viability, as well as important social and scientific impact.
First Solar GmbH: Important role of PV plants in stabilizing the grid
First Solar developed and built a 300 MW PV utility-scale plant in California, USA. The extensive testing and analysis carried out at the plant proved that solar plants at this scale can provide reliability and valuable grid services. Field data demonstrate that the solar plant can react very quickly to grid signals regarding frequency, and more accurately than conventional generation such as thermal, hydro or gas turbines – and can be tightly regulated. The reliability services demonstrations included spinning reserves, load following, voltage support, ramping, frequency response, variability smoothing, frequency regulation, and improved power quality.
“Proof of concept” and “a game-changer for large-scale solar plants” were the reactions of the jury to this outstanding undertaking. Solar power plants can not only reduce the need for carbon-emitting resources, but can also improve system performance, and operate with significantly higher levels of variable generation. The results of this project can be used as door openers to convince stakeholders that utility-scale solar can contribute to the reliability and stability of the grid and provide essential grid services, that are today often associated with conventional generation in terms of their provision of spinning reserve. The project is not only a solar generation asset on the grid but is also able to serve as a valuable demonstration project for the role PV power plants can play in stabilizing the grid.
Unlimited Energy Australia / TESVOLT GmbH: Off-grid Avocado farm in Australia
Together, Unlimited Energy Australia and Tesvolt completed an off-grid 53 kW photovoltaic installation in Australia that combines 160 kWh salt-water batteries and 48 kWh lithium storage. The free-standing system can power an Australian avocado farm on 100% renewable energy within a microgrid. The energy generated from the high irradiance in the region – some 300 days of sunshine per year – has eliminated reliance on diesel generators or on the ‘skinny’ electricity network in regional and rural Western Australia.
The jury honors this pioneering solution as a demonstration of the seamless integration of two different battery technologies, resulting in a positive economic and environmental impact. Especially, the mix of lithium-ion, and non-toxic, environmentally-friendly salt-water batteries is unique.
The combination of these technologies in this pilot project is helping renewables gain traction in the region and among farmers and is a landmark installation that also attracts “energy independence tourists,” who help spread the word. Economic benefits are high, since expensive grid maintenance and operation in sparsely populated regions of Western Australia are no longer necessary.
Smart Renewable Energy Winners
Ferroamp Elektronik AB: PowerShare Technology with “bottom-up” approach
Created from bottom up rather than top down, PowerShare technology is a modular system based on a local 760 V DC nanogrid that feeds energy from one or more common PV installations to multiple users. PowerShare Technology allows flexible integration of PV systems, energy storage, small scale wind and electric vehicle charging. A local bidirectional inverter at each user controls the flow of energy between the DC nanogrid and the user. The technology can also be used to share centralized energy storage among multiple users. The system brings a significant increase in PV self-consumption at a much lower cost than batteries. Further, load peaks at one user can be distributed among other users to reduce peak load drawn from the public AC grid.
The Jury was impressed by the sophisticated shareability the technology promotes, which increases utilization of renewable energy with a higher cost-effectiveness. Integration of multiple energy sources and consumers, reduced conversion losses in the DC/DC system compared to DC/AC systems, and the improved security of a back-up solution on a DC grid were also factors in the jury’s decision. Target markets are Nordic countries in which the technology is allowed and developing countries where an investment in a DC nanogrid is attractive due to the limitations of the existing grid infrastructure. There is market potential in other European countries pending regulatory adjustments.
indielux UG: ready2plugin – the safe plug-in
The first system of its kind, ready2plugin enables the safe plug-in of PV panels and battery storage into regular sockets without an electrician. An inverter protocol and application for any smart home system, the ready2plugin algorithm allows a feed power level of up to 1.8 kW into a home circuit. The algorithm prevents overheating of the electrical installation and can be installed on smart home hubs or integrated into existing systems or storage devices. As a standalone solution, the system functions as in-house energy management – in the event of power feedback into the grid it can mitigate the electricity demand of the consumer cell. In addition, the ready2plugin device provides a cost-effective way to track electricity usage.
The jury feels that this system is an important step in the democratization of the energy transition, giving “Power to the People,” and promoting the integration and participation of broad layers of society in decentralized renewable energy use. By ensuring the permissible current load in the circuit, the system is a cost-effective, standard-compliant plug & play solution. Ready2plugin holds promise for distribution via hardware stores, utilities and manufacturers of PV modules and storage systems.
SMA Solar Technology AG: ennexOS Platform – the cross sector IoT platform
ennexOS stands for Energy Next Operating System, and is a new cross sector IoT platform for energy management. It combines the heating, cooling, electricity, and mobility sectors in one platform, providing solutions along the whole value chain. Tools for cross-sector simulation, commissioning, monitoring, and control are fully integrated to provide support for installers and end customers so they can benefit from future business models in the digitalized energy markets. ennexOS is an open communication infrastructure that provides access to the flexibility of residential, commercial, and utility installations.
The system’s holistic approach, the modular and expandable design and cross-sector IoT platform concept were honored by the jury, as well as the focus on larger commercial and industrial applications. The combination of various applications – from data acquisition and analysis, planning & simulation, energy management and operations & maintenance – all contribute to the optimization of energy consumptions and energy cost. ennexOS is an important step in the digitization of the transition to renewable energy.