This week, Australia’s newest power plant announced a partnership with Chinese company Seraphim, on optimizers. Here’s a look at what this partnership entails and what it may indicate for the solar industry.
Kanowna Solar PL is building a 9MW plant 60 miles west of Moree in New South Wales. It will implement 27,500 Sepahim MX modules from the Chinese company Jiangsu Seraphim Solar System Co. Ltd. (“Seraphim”). Each module will be capable of generating 325 watts.
The installation will employ 325-watt MX Seraphim modules and utilize Maxim optimizers built into the cellular chain level. This advance makes it possible to include up to 1.5 times more modules in each chain, resulting in lower overhead costs. The smart module also serves to:
- Minimize misadjustment losses of the DC system
- Lower degradation rate.
- Improves production by up to 5%.
The anatomy of a solar energy installation
Hundreds, or hundreds of thousands, of individual modules provide the generating capacity of a solar power installation, from rooftop to utility scale. Solar modules are wired in series to increase the voltage the array will deliver, and those “strings” are wired in parallel to increase current.
The effects of “hot spots” are controlled by diodes in conventional modules. Seraphim’s “smart” solution employs a voltage limiting function that eliminates the need for diodes and the energy waste they can cause.
Seraphim cell chain level optimizer. Image source: Seraphim.
The strict voltage regulation provided by this solution makes it possible to include 50% more modules in each “string”, in theory, reducing costs and making this solution more suitable for “mega” projects such as power generation. utility level energy.
The Case of the Non-Conforming Cell: Challenges of String Modules
Solar cells degrade over time, often due to the effects of heat, cold, water, and humidity that they must withstand in their outdoor environments. Additionally, shade, debris, or animal intrusions can prevent the sun from striking a particular solar cell. Therefore, as a matter of necessity, each cell cannot be counted on to deliver as much energy as its peers can.
Therefore, any given cell within a string can produce less current than the others. But, because the cells are series connected, the overall current delivered by the string would be limited to the current that the weakest cell produces.
Classic solutions such as diodes impose a “death penalty” solution in which a “non-compliant” cell is simply cut off and delivers nothing to the total output.
A possibly better solution is to allow even non-conformists to contribute as much as they can to the cause. This is what Sepahim MX modules hope to achieve.
The global solar landscape
Solar energy has been an area of great investment and sometimes intense debate in countries around the world.
Australian researchers have been instrumental in the development of solar technology. In 2016, the University of New South Wales and the Australian Center for Advanced Photovoltaic Energy announced their ability to convert defocused sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of 34.5%.
Despite this, some sources indicate that the percentage of renewable energy is decreasing:
Renewable energy generation is Australia. Image Source: Australia Clean Energy Report
However, hydropower plays a bigger role in Australia’s renewable energy landscape than it does in the United States. The weather has been unusually dry in some parts of the country, and that, according to a report released by the Clean Energy Council of Australia, is what caused the temporary deficit.
Compare the situation in Australia with the United States, where more than a third of all electricity generation capacity is due to renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
New electricity generation capacity in the United States. Image source: United States Energy Information Administration.
The United States’ contributions to solar efficiency have also been notable. In 2017, researchers at George Washington University announced a 44.5% efficient solar cell design made from gallium antimony (GaSb) substrates, competing for the world’s most efficient cell.
Of course, the big competition for both solar implementation and research has been China. According to a June report in Forbes, China accounted for half of the world’s solar energy demand.
However, in May, China’s National Development and Reform Commission announced that they were suspending subsidies for large-scale solar power projects. The effects of this announcement on demand and solar development are yet to be determined.
The role of solar power is growing in all of these nations, prompting companies like Seraphim to answer the call. But it seems that politics plays a bigger role in their rise to prominence than the tech sector can control.
What do you think of the solar industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below.