Last month, we discussed the impact of a more mature, strong and established marketplace and the importance of end to end process optimization. This month, we take things even further into one of the most important and exciting areas of innovation for our industry: the integration of solar and storage. Solar-plus-storage systems continue to gain popularity for a variety of reasons. Factors such as increasing levels of intermittent generation sources, incentive programs, and declining costs of deployed storage systems have led to growth in the area of solar plus storage systems. This increase in demand is driving a need for more user-friendly solar plus storage solutions.
California is approaching its deadline for Phase 2 compliance with the state’s Rule 21 requirements, the first wave of smart grid evolution soon coming to all markets. As controllable storage systems at the grid edge, distributed generation assets can serve as grid stability agents for critical things like voltage and frequency regulation and the rapid detection and management of the events that create risk to the health of the energy grid. Events like the recent wildfires and pre-emptive blackouts have underscored the need for widespread storage systems to insure uninterrupted power for end users and to help support grid stability.
Designers for solar-plus-storage systems have historically developed these projects as a marriage of two separate and distinct technologies with entirely different supply chains for sales, services, and support. In this model, operators receive data for the PV system using some combination of monitoring and PPC (Power Plant Controller), while data for the storage system is found in a BMS (Battery Management System). Today’s solar-plus-storage designers want integrated technology solutions with the same simplicity and plug-and-play functionality that they find in solutions for solar-only systems. Integrated solutions for solar-plus-storage serve the same goals as aggregating fleet assets within a single software platform: a complete end-to-end view enhances efficiency, improves performance, and reduces costs.
In the separate technology model, monitoring for the solar and storage systems is siloed, forcing system operators to work with entirely different platforms to operate and manage solar and storage systems, including performance alerts, report generation, compliance tracking, and record keeping. This made it difficult to gain a holistic understanding of the performance of the integrated systems; the effort would call for hours of work to combine and curate data from the PV monitoring system and the BMS.