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Issues to be considered while integrating rooftop solar power with diesel genset power
A question asked by many interested in using rooftop solar for diesel abatement is: how well can rooftop solar power integrate with diesel power if both are to be used simultaneously?
This question is especially relevant because the most productive use of solar power happens during load shedding, when companies have to use costly power from diesel gensets. The more solar is able to reduce the extent of diesel genset use, the better the economics.
There are several issues to be considered while integrating solar power into the diesel genset power generation system. These have to do with the fact that solar power is intermittent, as well as the fact that diesel gensets need to operate at certain minimum load factors for them to run with high efficiency.
This blog post provides insights on the key issues to be considered while integrating rooftop solar with diesel gensets.
Part of the content for this post was derived from Solar Mango – the Rooftop Solar resource.
Some of the critical challenges to be considered while integrating rooftop solar with diesel gensets are:
Frequency & Power Quality: As the loading factor of the diesel generator varies (as a result of introducing an intermittent solar power source into the mix), the frequency of the output AC power can vary beyond acceptable levels reducing the quality of power. Some modern devices require high quality power to operate
Reverse Current Flow: When the output of the solar power exceeds the load demand, some reverse current will flow into the diesel generator. There are acceptable levels to which this can happen beyond which the diesel generator trips, terminating the reference voltage for the solar system causing it to shut down
Efficiency and Minimum Loading: Diesel generators operate in various modes. Running a generator at loads below the minimum load factor for prolonged periods affects the efficiency of operations which in turn has a bearing on fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and useful life. Operating below the minimum load is possible if a sizable solar system is integrated into the supply and results in decreased lifecycle savings of the solar-diesel generator system. This should be specially considered by those who have only one diesel generator, or use only one diesel generator at a time, as the generator’s load will reduce once solar is introduced. In a multi-generator system, it is possible to balance the load by turning off some generators completely, and running the other generators at full load and optimum efficiency.
Overall, it can be said that plugging a solar power system into the diesel genset backup system might force some compromises as well as sacrifices in efficiency that might creep into the genset operations as a result of the inclusion of the SPV system. It can however be expected that these compromises and losses in efficiency will decrease as the solar and diesel genset industry starts collaborating with each other. Already in India, many diesel genset makers are keen to provide solar power solutions to their clients; thus, one can expect innovations to happen fast in this sector.
Further data on these are awaited from various installations running diesel/solar, as the use of large scale solar power to offset diesel consumption is a fairly recent activity (only starting 2013), and thus there is little analysis or understanding of all the complexities even for industry veterans.
EAI’s Diesel to Solar Report – The one and only such report in the world
EAI has published a unique report to assist those keen on using solar power to offset their diesel consumption.
To know more about integrating rooftop solar with diesel gensets, you can also refer to this comprehensive report EAI has published. The Diesel to Solar report is a comprehensive guide to implementing a rooftop solar system to reduce diesel consumption for power.
Related posts for replacing diesel with solar
Also: Check out an interesting site on solar: Suncyclopedia, the Solar Encyclopedia
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