Magellan’s latest innovation The Solar Smoother with Cloud Detecting Camera was discussed at the recent IPS Connect event “Isolated Power Systems Connect, 2017” on Rottnest Island, Western Australia.
The conference mainly centered around the significant changes looming in the Australian electrical power industry, in particular the transition from a traditional system of poles and wires to a high-tech network – the “smart grid”.
The conference consisted of a two-day professional development course with international, national and local speakers covering integration of renewable energy in isolated power systems, increasing PV penetration, microgrid technologies and customer expectationas.
Delegates and speakers at the conference traveled from various regions such as the pacific islands including the Cook Islands and Samoa, the USA, Hawaii, and Australia. Presentations centered on the intermittency of solar radiation and issues with supplying island power. Tasmanian speakers presented their experience with isIand battery trials, and researchers from Alaska presented their renewable energy projects plus challenges associated with high energy costs, dispersed population and harsh climate.
In a presentation given at the conference titled “Battery-less Smoothing of Solar PV Generation” Magellan Managing Director Masoud Abshar provided an overview of how the Solar Smoother came to be a Magellan product, and why it is an essential element of every solar installation on small grids, be it island or inland application.
Since 2013 Magellan has been working on innovative solutions to lessen the intermittency of solar generation. The Magellan Solar Smoother solutions enable PV plant generation to vary in slow and controlled ramp patterns, which then allow the respective power plants to compensate for the generation drop during passing clouds.
Magellan Power has designed and manufactured two solutions for this problem: a battery based Solar Smoother and a camera based Solar Smoother.
The Magellan Battery based Solar Smoother is a reactive solution which enables smooth transition between PV power and the grid and allows the grid time to respond to the reduction in solar generation.
The Battery-Based Solar Smoothers are in effect small-scale energy storage systems using state of the art Lithium-ion batteries. These batteries were especially chosen due to their size and durability and power density. The power density is very important in this application as the Solar Smoother will have to provide a short burst of high power equivalent to the total solar power to effectively compensate for the sudden drop in the solar generation caused by a passing cloud. This type of Solar Smoother can also be used as normal storage on sunny days as long as the energy is also available for smoothing duties.
The second Magellan solution is proactive/predictive. The device detects and tracks the moving clouds, calculating the speed and direction and issues an early warning well ahead of the sudden generation drop-down and commands the solar inverters to ramp down accordingly. Through this method the contribution of the battery storage is reduced significantly, resulting also in a reduction of overall system cost.