Enphase Energy and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) are piloting a program using integrating microinverters for solar panels to control the flow of electricity through grid management. The program is designed to study Enphase’s systems to help develop the smart grid of the future.
"Enphase has already been working with a number of utilities to integrate smart inverters and help transform distributed energy resources into grid assets that will help modernize the grid," said Raghu Belur, Enphase vice president of products and strategic initiatives. "Working with PG&E is an exciting next step. Our smart microinverters will provide real-time intelligence from those assets as well as allow coordinated control to increase grid reliability and ultimately deliver better service to PG&E customers."
The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program is partially funding the new effort. The California Public Utilities Commission created EPIC in December 2011 to support clean energy technology investments that provide benefits to customers of California’s investor-owned utilities.
In this case PG&E customers in Fresno and San Jose will have a chance to receive equipment from Enphase including its S-Series microinverters, Envoy-S gateways and its cloud-based Grid Optimization Services.
Enphase’s microinverters are installed on individual solar panels. Usually a solar panel system uses a centralized inverter. In such a system the power produced by solar panels is limited by the least efficient panel in the system. In a system with microinverters each panel can produce as much power as possible. The gateway helps modulate the power in a system such that each of the panels it can produce as much power as possible. However, the gateway also can provide load management services, which can help stabilize the grid with solar panels.
The pilot will use the tools in its Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) for real-time data integration to control distributed energy resources like the Enphase systems. “The program goals are to support increased penetration of distributed energy resources and to increase overall operational efficiencies of the entire system,” Enphase stated.Tweet