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Magellan Power Solar Smoother – an innovative solution to lessen the intermittency of solar generation

November 22, 2017 9:02 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The number of photovoltaic power plants connected to electricity networks in Australia has increased substantially in recent years due to the advancement in PV technology and rapidly decreasing costs. The distributed PV systems now make up the vast majority of installed PV capacity in Australia.

One major problem with PV power plants is the intermittent nature of solar energy which is mainly due to passing clouds creating sudden dips (as much as 75%) in a matter of seconds in the output power of the plant.

Since 2012 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. The managed ramp up/down events in the PV plant’s export comply with the Horizon Power specifications. 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. Magellan Power Battery Based Solar Smoothers have been supplied to many solar installations on the Horizon Power network including Broome, carnovon, Esperance and Kalgoorlie.

The second Magellan solution is a 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.

Magellan is currently manufacturing both solutions and has supplied WA projects; the Cloud Camera in Broome, Karratha and Port-Headland.

For more details, contact Jolleh Abshar, Magellan Power, jabshar@magellanpower.com.au