At this year's Intersolar trade fair, SMA has scored particular points with a consistent focus on the grid integration of solar energy. Spokesperson of the board Pierre-Pascal Urbon considers this the central topic for the coming years. “As a leader and trendsetter in the solar industry, we want to promote photovoltaics as a competitive form of energy in today's market and increasing the percentage of solar energy in the grid without any significant increase in grid expansion costs. Since we are now in a unique position to offer a complete product lineup ranging from kilowatt to megawatt systems, we can put increasing emphasis on exactly these strategic aspects. While other manufacturers are still working on completing their product portfolios, SMA has a huge head start in this area and is taking an extremely proactive role in promoting the grid integration of solar power", Urbon said at the Intersolar. This is the only way to ensure both the feed-in of solar power and a high level of grid stability over the medium and long term.
"Technology is the key to grid integration. Our Sunny Home Manager is a smart solution for optimizing self-consumption. It is simpler, more precise and more comprehensive than any comparable product made by our competitors. It was clearly one of the visitor magnets at the Intersolar", added Chief Technology Officer Roland Grebe. According to the company’s calculations, the Sunny Home Manager from SMA significantly increases the self-consumption of solar energy and also provides you with a comprehensive and intelligent system for managing your household energy. In combination with the Sunny Backup system, it even allows you to temporarily store solar power.
According to Roland Grebe, an increase in self-consumption of solar power would lead to cost-efficient PV support and an improvement in grid integration. "Solar power which is used directly where it is produced reduces grid expansion costs because self-consumption reduces grid loads. That is why incentives for self-consumption are essential to promote the development of intelligent solutions for promoting consumption and new storage solutions", Grebe said. "When variable electricity tariffs depending on supply and demand are introduced, the Sunny Home Manager can intelligently shift loads and thereby both increase the efficiency for the operator and significantly reduce the grid load", Grebe explains, and adds that the Sunny Home Manager provides users with a high degree of future proofing: "By including different data interfaces such as S0, D0, Bluetooth® and Powerline, and laying the groundwork for the integration of domestic automation standards like KNX, Zigbee or EEBus, the user is optimally prepared for coming requirements."
Accordingly, decentralized storage solutions are another developmental focus at SMA: with the Sunny Backup System, SMA offers a product for the decentralized storage of solar power which, in addition to a grid-quality uninterruptible power supply, will shortly also provide storage of solar power to increase the percentage of self-consumption. "To ensure that our products are as future-proof and state-of-the-art as absolutely possible, SMA is currently working with leading battery manufacturers." As a result, the Sunny Backup System is compatible with many types of batteries. For example, it can be combined with lithium-ion batteries when users have higher demands than an uninterruptible power supply. Li-ion batteries distinguish themselves through high cycle stability and comparatively low storage losses", says Volker Wachenfeld, Executive Vice President Off-Grid Solutions division, explaining the advantages of the system.
With approximately 25,000 German PV plants tracked in Sunny Portal, SMA is the only manufacturer that has the data necessary to calculate current solar energy yield with an accuracy rate of over 99%. The PV power for all of Germany is also presented live on the SMA homepage. SMA has joined forces with software experts to make solar forecasting possible. For Grebe, this is "a huge advancement for PV and an important step toward successfully integrating solar energy into the grid." As solar energy becomes more predictable, it can therefore be scheduled, lowering the grid operators' costs for temporary, expensive standby power. "This also avoids negative prices on the Energy Exchange, which are ultimately passed on to the consumer, raising the price of electricity. Being able to plan solar power also makes intelligent energy management on a household level possible for the first time", said Grebe. These are good conditions for the continuing expansion of photovoltaics.
With sales of €1.9 billion in 2010, the SMA Group is the global leader in the PV inverter market, which are a central component of every PV plant. The SMA group is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel in Germany. It is represented by 17 international subsidiaries on four continents. In 2010, the group employed a staff of more than 5,000 (including temporary employees). SMA produces a broad range of inverter types, offering suitable inverters for any type of photovoltaic module and for PV plants of all sizes. The product portfolio includes inverters both for PV plants connected to the grid and for off-grid systems. The holding company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed in the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and has been part of the German TecDAX stock index since 2008. SMA has received numerous awards for its excellence as an employer, and recently won first place in Germany's nationwide "Great Place to Work" competition.
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