Solar Builder

JAN 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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42 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 8 phate (LiFePO4 or LFP), which exhibits fast discharge, long life and greater operating safety than other variations. LFP is a nontoxic, thermally stable mate- rial and is much safer — from fires and explo- sions — than the standard cobalt-containing lithium-ion (LiCoO2) chemistry. The differ- ence in chemistry also makes the LFP less expensive than the lithium-ion battery. The cost of LFP batteries is down to about $400 per MWh and should drop further as more large-scale production comes onto the market. "LFP battery costs have dropped 25 to 30 percent over the last two years," says Catherine Von Burg, the CEO of SimpliPhi. Still, commercial and industrial customers are seeing a return on investment for LFP in four years or less, when targeting problems like peak shaving, says Von Burg. Her com- pany routinely installs LFP battery banks on C&I rooftops. A host of local regulations have arisen to mitigate the fire risk from lithium-ion, which adds cost to both residential and commercial applications installed indoors. This is where LFP's chemistry can make a difference — at the point of installation completion. LFP performance can beat lithium-ion, with LFP batteries generally providing about 2,000 charge/discharge cycles, compared to about 1,000 for lithium-ion batteries, accord- ing to one industry source. Because of its safety, rooftop battery solu- tion provider JLM Energy also uses LFP in its Phazr battery system, which is mounted underneath each panel in a rooftop solar array. One forward-looking advantage of using LFP battery systems is the growth of com- munity solar, microgrids and other aggregated forms of distributed energy resources. As utili- ties become more capable of interacting with these DER systems, more smart, fast battery systems will be called upon to support the grid, if not also enabling some form of private-sec- tor energy arbitrage, suggests Von Burg. New standards Comparing battery lifetime has become more standardized with the advent of the International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) standard 61427 test, which provides performance criteria that all batteries for PV applications should be measured against. It offers a common, internationally accepted platform to compare and contrast batteries from different manufacturers. Warranties are also widely variable, so trust in solid companies unless a reliable third- party warranty policy has been issued on the product. "There is a trend among battery companies with a limited reputation to give unbelievable warranty terms. Then the owner has to prove a lot of things to collect on the warranty, which is really tricky and in-trans- parent," Oezcan says. To aid in the information battle, indepen- dent energy certification body DNV GL just developed Battery XT, the first testing-based verification of battery lifetime for lithium-ion SimpliPhi The SimpliPhi High-Output Battery, launched to the market in 2015, was designed to address the Marine Corps requirements for a high-output battery that could provide a sustained peak power output of 10 to 15 minutes without any risk of overheating, thermal runaway, fire or shutting down, as well as longer duration base power delivery over 20 or more hours. The battery architecture creates minimal electrical impedance, so SimpliPhi's batteries do not have a thermal profile that requires temperature management or cooling and have never suffered dangerous thermal runaway or fires. This design allows for one unit to provide both peak and long duration power, while also being modular, scaleable, non-toxic and safe. Battery Showcase Crown Battery Eco-friendly Crown1 batteries are optimized for renewable energy and the widest array of configuration options. According to the U.S. EPA, Crown1 batteries are 99 percent recyclable — more recyclable than an aluminum can or any other battery technology. Crown1 combines robotic assembly in Fremont, Ohio, with the indus- try's heaviest plates and most active materials to enhance performance and lifespan. Proprietary Cast-On-Strap systems are 100x more precise than manual welding, for greater reliability and longevity. Automated testing and vision systems maximize precision, power and uniformity. Crown1 features 6-, 8- and 12-volt models with 33-390 Ah (20-hour rating) capacities.

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