When it comes to Solar Systems the consumer always had two choices:
- Grid Tie only which had to shut down during load shedding and failure of the grid
- Hybrid incorporating (mainly) battery back up which would seamlessly provide power to the home in the event of a grid failure.
Obviously the difference between the two is in the cost of installation and the running cost over the life of a system with straight grid tie winning the cost race hands down.
Almost all residential solar power grid tie inverters are designed to shut down for safety and technical reasons in case of the grid powering down.
Now when one reads about Solar 2.0 one experiences an ‘Aha’ moment – surely the solution cannot be that simple?
Essentially Solar 2.0 is being touted as an ‘in-between’ solution between hybrid and grid tie as Solar 2.0 will function even when the grid goes down – but still only in sunlight hours with the option of adding battery power.
The ideal Solar 2.0 system will offer a seamless transition between grid tied and off-grid whilst also offering a battery system as a ‘plug and play’ option.
Another win for solar system owners will be the ability of any Solar 2.0 Inverter to be able to be swopped out for ‘old technology’.
When it comes to Solar Energy production the progression has been rapid. Initially inverters received DC power from a string of solar panels and the production rate was directly tied to the performance of the lowest solar panel in the string (think of the weakest link in a chain to understand the concept). The next advance was to increase the number of strings that an inverter could handle so as to minimise the possiblity of one solar panel adversely affecting the production.
What affects the production of any string of solar panels are things like shadows, birds, leaves etc on the panels over the course of the day. So, a solution was needed to further increase the number of ‘strings’ available so that the ‘weakest link’ remained the only ‘weak link’. A company by the name of Solar Edge popularised the concept of a single optimiser per solar panel which eliminated the weakest link from affecting other panels in the chain and allowed owners and installers to pinpoint poor performing solar panels remotely.
Californian company, Enphase, has now gone one step further and popularised the concept of a microinverter per solar panel which eliminates long DC cable runs and, according to Enphase:
- Makes installation faster
- Eliminates string sizing
- No DC work
- No Single Point of failure
- Greater durability
- Longer warranty
- More solar power
- Greater Energy Savings
With these strides in technology we still get asked by consumers if they should wait for “the prices to come down further” or for “better technology”. The answer is simple; “If you have the cash then buy now – the immediate savings can be compared with starting to invest on the stock market or starting to save money – if you don’t start now then the magic of compound interest (electricity savings) will never kick in.”
The first phase Solar Photovoltaic installation of Solar Panels on the roof of Magnetic Storm in Port Elizabeth.