India: Hybrid Inverter Technology Has Been Installed on A Farm House

As India is going through a solar revolution, various innovative applications of solar are being conceptualized and implemented. An interesting application is enabled by hybrid inverter technology that has been installed on a farm house in Maharashtra state.

Around 90% of the 1600 square-meter farmhouse area is used for farming, while the remaining is the residence. The owners were facing huge operating costs for running a diesel generator when there were long power outages from the local utility throughout the day. Power requirements are 200 units per day for running 50 HP fans for 5 hours to maintain a specific temperature and moisture; 50 units per day for running 10 HP water pumping systems for 5 hours for sprinkling and watering; and 20 units per day for powering the servant quarters and weekend house and lighting the area at night. Secondly, the owners were quite interested in implementing a green building concept to attain certification and this requires that a minimum percentage of power should be attained from a green source of energy.

Significant solar irradiation on an annual basis made solar the most preferred option for this project. Giridaran Srinivasan, Project Engineer for Resolve Energy Consultants noted that during power cuts the rooftop owner cannot use the solar power generated because the grid tie inverter does not start without electricity. The conventional solutions on the market today are the off-grid inverters that come with bulky battery banks. These are very expensive compared to direct grid-connected inverters. An alternative are hybrid inverters. These inverters are very flexible and can bring down the operating cost for solar rooftop owners and bring in significant commercial benefits.

For this farmhouse project, Zigor’s HITC model hybrid inverter was selected, which is a real time hybrid inverter meaning that it is accessible for multiple resource type of inputs (solar, wind, grid,and diesel generators) and the inverter acts in a combination mode of both on-grid and off-grid.

Installation and operation

A total of 80kWp (DC) of solar PV panels was connected to a Zigor HITC 100kW hybrid inverter with a battery bank of 150Ah and 240Ah batteries. Both thin film and poly-crystalline panels from Photonix were chosen because of the optimum positioning in product, price and availability. The Hybrid type, Zigor inverter used in the system takes the differential power from the grid or from the solar installation as it is needed. This ensures the critical continuity of the load. These hybrid inverters also ensure that solar is given the highest priority over other sources. Thereby it uses a battery bank as the last option and also inhibits frequent usage of diesel generators, thereby reducing the cost as well as health hazards of diesel use.

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Another unique feature of this hybrid inverter is that two modes of operation can be set for battery operation. Silent mode is set when the system owner looks for night-time backup supply. And Peak-saving mode, in which the battery is operated only for a short period of time during transition from solar to DG/Grid.

Challenges

The main challenge was the upfront cost of the installation.  Pricewise hybrid inverters by Zigor are INR 27/watt, which is quite a bit more expensive as compared to conventional inverters by other players that sell inverters in the range of INR 14/17 / watt. However, economically priced conventional off-grid inverters use large battery banks, which increase the capital and maintenance cost. Similarly on-grid inverters do not work under grid failure/power cut condition and customers are more dependent on diesel generators. Hence, the owners were able to get a faster payback by using the hybrid inverters.

Results

The 400 units solar-generated units of power that are generated each day account for a reduction of  180 tonne CO2 per year and a monetary savings of INR 18,00,000 per year, considering that all the units are produced by diesel at INR 15 per unit, resulting in less than a 5-year payback (taking subsidy and income tax benefits into account).

Such innovative applications enabled by advanced hybrid technologies prove to be a boon for customers having specific power requirements to be fulfilled by solar power.

Source: SolarNovusToday

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