Low-cost energy generation management recognised at technology awards

Power solutions provider MPower Solar Systems has won first prize at the inaugural Renewable Energy Technology Challenge, for developing a low-cost energy generation management unit, which can be fitted to most renewable energy inverters.

The competition is the first in a series of technology challenges set by the Western Australian Department of Commerce in conjunction the Pilbara Development Commission to address issues impacting Western Australians. The Technology Challenge invites Western Australian individuals and organisations to present an innovative solution to a specified problem, with prize money awarded to the applicant judged to have the best solution.

The MPower Solar Systems team acknowledged the $50,000 cash prize and publicity will enable the continued development of the technology and will help bring the generation management solution one step closer to the market.

Runners-up Magellan Power (Bibra Lake) and Oztron Energy (Parkwood) were each awarded $10,000 for their respective innovations.

The competition is supported by Horizon Power, which requires all commercial customers and most residential customers to install renewable energy systems with generation management capability.

MPower Solar Systems manager sales marketing and product development Scott Davis said the technology should be available by the end of 2013.

“The 5kW generation management solution will assist many of our customers to connect renewable energy systems that comply with our technical requirements in towns where hosting capacity has been reached,” he said.

“Horizon Power currently has 40MW of available renewable energy hosting capacity available, with strong demand from regional customers for renewable energy to use this and we are thrilled that we are able to support this demand through the Technology Challenge.”

MPower national sales manager for Solar Products Ed Blackley accepted the award and said the company is proud to be recognised as a leader in developing power solutions for remote communities.

“Put simply, MPower’s winning solution addresses the problem of power output variability on small isolated electricity networks caused by clouds,” he said.

“Once fully commercialised, the technology will allow regional residential and small commercial electricity consumers to install solar power systems onto Horizon Power networks.”

Using a combination of inverter and small battery storage, the system also provides some backup power to the system owner in times of electricity outage.

Due to the increasing popularity of solar photovoltaic systems, electricity companies including Horizon Power have faced difficulty maintaining network stability, particularly when these systems are affected by rapid changes as a result of weather conditions.

In July 2012, Horizon Power introduced new standards, requiring most new photovoltaic systems to incorporate some energy storage to smooth out the effect of clouds on the power output of the system.

MPower Solar Systems managing director Dwayne Lange said, “To date, a cost effective solution has not been available to consumers wishing to invest in this technology.”