Is PV + Storage the Holy Grail of Solar Energy?

Unique Concepts in Integrating Utility Scale PV and Storage

Different traditions describe the Holy Grail as a cup, dish or stone with miraculous powers that provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance. Of course the Holy Grail is a mythical object.  Could the incorporation of storage (i.e. batteries) into new or existing PV systems represent a very real work embodiment of this fantastic vision for our clean energy needs?

The benefits of renewable solar power are clear, a clean, carbon/pollution free energy source where mother nature provides the fuel free to the power plant free of cost.  Of course, detractors of renewables site their lack of reliability and predictability as knocks against them as major components of energy supply.

Incorporating storage, another word for batteries, into either new or existing solar projects is a great way to amplify the benefits of renewables while at the same time combatting the arguments of their opponents. In simplest of terms, coupling storage with new or existing PV capacity provides the following benefits:

1. Provides power when it is needed but not necessarily available

2. Stores extra power at times when it is available but not needed

3. Makes the delivery of alternative energy sources more predictable and reliable and thus more stable

In many ways, one could liken integrated PV and storage to Holy Grail in that while the benefits are great, the implementation has proven, well, elusive.  To this end, Alencon has developed some very unique technology for enabling the incorporation of storage with PV.

Here at Alencon, we have three topologies to for allowing you to integrate storage with PV. In the simplest case, our SPOTS can be deployed with batteries in the array, regulating voltage between the PV and the batteries, discharging the batteries at times when more energy is needed than the plant can provide, charging the batteries during times of DC clipping or curtailment. During any of these events, PV power can still be supplied to the Grid.  Alencon’s SPOT can also be used to deploy more centralized storage in a plant with virtually any third party inverter with batteries being charged and discharge from a central DC bus, with the SPOT acting as a slave to the DC bus voltage. In the largest case, the full Alencon 10 MW central inverter system can be deployed in a multi-modal topology for alternative energy production, battery charging or discharging and provision of Grid stability. You can learn more about these concepts by clicking here.

One of the unique aspects of Alencon’s storage solutions is that make them such great enablers for integrating storage with PV is their galvanic isolation. Galvanic isolation allows Alencon’s technology to isolate storage from PV assuring the highest degree of safety and reliability in the system.