The Utility Scale Challenge: Ensuring Profitable Dispatchable Solar Assets | AlsoEnergy
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The Utility Scale Challenge: Ensuring Profitable Dispatchable Solar Assets

2020 is shaping up to be the largest year ever in terms of installed capacity for the US utility PV market, with Wood MacKenzie forecasting 14.4 GWdc to be commissioned in the year. With the current US utility PV pipeline standing at an all-time high of 51 GWdc, all signs point to continued strength in 2021. As utilities across the country pass through this inflection point of dispatchable renewable capacity, the promise of the “smart grid” has begun to deliver.

As our utilities continue to integrate higher levels of renewables to into their grid networks, they are implementing curtailments for variable generation assets to ensure grid stability and reliability in this low inertia power system environment. The owners and operators of utility scale power plants must evolve their operational models to optimize energy harvests in an environment where maximum power point tracking would exceed limitations, and where curtailments can create unexpected yield shortfalls. In this new reality for grid-tied PV, it is more important than ever to fine tune plant controller performance to minimize non-compensable losses, and to avoid violations of utility performance demands that could result in penalties. There is a need for technology that can harvest additional energy from a PV power plant while compensating for losses to provide a smooth and predictable supply of power from the plant to the grid.

AlsoEnergy Utility Solutions utilize advanced plant control technology to deliver higher yields and better financial outcomes. Our systems provide clear insight into curtailment events so that Asset Management can track compensable and non-compensable events. But the key differentiator is the ability of our controllers to optimize energy harvest while responding to the utility’s performance demands. Significant energy can be left on the table if the controller does not optimize independent inverter energy harvest with smooth transitions between set points. This represents lost revenue, and can become a significant contributor to poor project returns in areas with frequent curtailments.

AlsoEnergy brings a unique approach to plant control technology. Through project deployments in the most sophisticated and demanding grid environments in Hawaii and California, AlsoEnergy has developed proprietary algorithms for complying with grid operator requirements while simultaneously optimizing energy harvest. These algorithms for Dynamic Energy Harvest Optimization enable automated inverter control to quickly and smoothly compensate for underperforming areas in the plant, ensuring optimized energy harvest while maintaining compliance with interconnection agreements. Like all the plant control IP developed by our global engineering team, Dynamic Energy Harvest Optimization has been integrated into our SCADA platform, fueling the ongoing evolution of our plant control solution.

As renewable penetration advances in our country, more demanding and sophisticated plant control requirements are coming to energy markets in all regions. AlsoEnergy is accomplishing a big investment this year in staff and development to advance our Utility Solutions, empowering us to serve the evolving needs of our clients. We are prepared to help utility PV projects thrive in this challenging new environment.