If you want to use your own monitoring, Scada or data logging system to manage operation of your PV system, you can simply integrate the inverters via the Modbus interface. For more than two years, SMA has been equipping all inverters with this standard interface, offering straightforward solutions to third providers, in particular, who want to provide system operators with their own, non-SMA system.

SMA employee Falko Schmidt answered all questions on Modbus

Falko Schmidt gathered and answered all questions on Modbus asked by coustomers

SMA employee Falko Schmidt has set himself the task of gathering and answering those questions on Modbus most frequently asked by customers.

And to make the approximately 30 questions and respective answers already gathered available to those who have similar questions on Modbus, Falko summarized them in a detailed FAQ catalog. This catalog is available at SMA Developer, a website for developers where all development documentation of SMA products can be found.

Have fun browsing the blog.

Have a look at the SMA Developer (please select “FAQ Modbus”)

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Organisations around the world are teaming up to help rural communities gain access to basic energy needs through renewables

In Majhuee, a village nestled in central Nepal, Raj Mani Chaudhary and his wife depend on fish and vegetable farming for their income. The couple used to spend NPR 2500 (USD 24) per month to operate and maintain a diesel pump for their farm, but as their pump got older, so did the cost and frequency of its repairs. Slowly this was becoming unsustainable and something had to change.

Change meant turning to solar power.

“We’ve saved a lot of money on fuel by switching to solar,” says Raj about installing a solar pump for his farm. “Our costs on diesel have been reduced by over 75 per cent, so we now have more money to do other things.”

The solar pump’s steady flow of water throughout the day has been enough to maintain the Chaudharys’ two fishponds and water their 675 square meters of farmland.

“I now only need to use the diesel pump during extremely cloudy days,” Raj says. The automatic operation of the solar pump also means Raj no longer has to travel to the field twice a day to operate the pump — the automatic pump starts early in the morning and stops in the evening on clear days, maintaining the water level of his fish ponds and freeing his time for other activities.

Raj ManiRaj Mani Chaudhary’s solar pump installation in Nepal.

IRENA’s work on solar pumping solutions shows that they are reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable in rural areas — evident in the Chaudharys’ case, where a solar solution has improved their livelihoods and reduced their use of fossil fuels. In IRENA’s Solar Pumping for Irrigation publication, renewable energy opportunities in the agriculture and water sector are shown to be one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and stimulate socio-economic development. A study from UNEP shows that in Asia, for every 10 per cent increase in farm yield there is an estimated 5 per cent reduction in poverty.

Women in agriculture

Sarita Regmi and her husband wash their cows using water from a solar pump.Since installing a solar pump, the Regmi’s milk production has increased by 20 per cent, and they can comfortably wash their livestock and keep their farm hygienic.

In the agricultural sector of developing countries, men and women take different roles, and fetching water is a burden predominantly on women. In Mazuru, Zimbabwe, for example, women walk about four kilometres a day carrying buckets of water from the dam — leaving little time for household chores, hoeing, weeding, tending to plants, and other essential work. With rising fuel costs and frequent maintenance, the upkeep of diesel pumps is not affordable for many families.

In Ayodhyapure, in southern Nepal, Sarita Regmi and her husband rely on their livestock for income. Every day, Sarita delivers on average 70 litres of milk to the local milk collection centre, relying on a hand pump to feed and clean their 11 cows. Hand pumps are a common method for water delivery for the majority of farmers in the area, but operating a hand pump is physically intense and consumes a significant amount of time to pump water and carry it to the farm. Sarita was spending two to three hours daily on pumping water by hand, this left her physically tired and limited her time to do other tasks.

Sarita Regmi 1Sarita Regmi’s husband with their cattle

To ease this burden and free-up Sarita’s time, she and her husband installed a solar pump. Since the installation, milk production from their cattle increased by 20 per cent, and the water output of the pump comfortably fulfills their water needs, and allows them to wash their livestock and keep the farm hygienic.

“We used to rely on hand pumps and invested a lot of effort drawing water for our livestock. Now with the solar pump, I just have to turn on the switch,” says Sarita. Feeding and washing her cattle now takes Sarita only 30 minutes, compared to two hours with a hand pump.

In addition to making Sarita’s life easier, after just four months the Regmis have seen the health of their livestock improve — newborn calves are healthier and less prone to infections, and the milk production from their cows has increased from 10 to 12 litres per day per animal and is more consistent. By collecting the water used to wash their cattle shed and channelling it to their fish farm, the family has found another way to utilise renewables to improve their lives.

Real economic and quality of life improvements are possible with renewable energy technologies, according to another IRENA report, as they provide water security accessibility, affordability, and safety.

Solar-pumps are particularly useful and cost-effective for crops traditionally grown by women like fruits and vegetables, which feeds families and ultimately improves their nutrition and health.

Sarita Regmi 2Solar installation at Sarita Regmi’s home

Both the Chaudharys and Regmis received their solar-pumps after signing up for SunFarmer’s rural Nepal promotion. They also received an incentive on the system cost, provided by Winrock International and Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihoods. Solar-based pumping solutions are a good example of how renewables can offer a cost-effective alternative to grid- or diesel-based irrigation pump sets.

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In June, representatives of the EEBUS initiative met in Cologne for the first e-mobility Plugfest to test the state of development of their respective devices live. A Plugfest is a bit like a LAN party for developers. In Cologne, the specific focus was on interactions between the charging station, electric vehicle and energy management system.

EEBUS driving forward intelligent energy management

Can energy managers manage data while also optimizing the use of self-generated solar power? SMA contributed the new energy management platform, ennexOS, which was first unveiled at Intersolar Europe 2017. Using the EEBUS standard, the platform will combine all of a system’s energy generators, consumers and storage systems, and allow them to be controlled optimally. At the Plugfest, ennexOS successfully overcame the first steps for use with charging stations and electric vehicles. Before the next Plugfest, the emphasis will now be on resolving any weak points identified and processing work orders to ensure that the second Plugfest is every bit as successful as the first.

What is the actual purpose of EEBUS?

In the international EEBUS initiative, reputable manufacturers of electrical devices have joined forces to develop a common communication standard for all household electrical devices.

Folke Mitzlaff, product manager for energy solutions at SMA, explains the background and objectives of the EEBUS initiative in this video.

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You can find out more about the EEBUS initiative on the association’s website.

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It is hard to imagine that something as mundane as a battery could make national headlines, but that is what happened last week in Australia. I was there for a family visit and as much as climate science gets debated in the media (see my previous post), it barely rates against the energy debate that has dominated the Australian headlines in recent months. The issue is the cost of electricity and the reliability of supply, both of which continue to be contentious subjects.

The cost of electricity has risen sharply in Australia over the last two years, but this has been coupled with supply problems that have led to blackouts in some parts of the country. This has been most visible in South Australia, which has closed all its coal fired power plants and invested heavily in renewable energy. The result is a wind / solar / natural gas power mix, backed up by an inter-connector with Victoria. For the most part this has been a workable solution, but when particular conditions coincide the result can mean blackouts or load shedding by some industrial customers. This usually involves periods of high load coinciding with low renewable energy availability at a time when some other part of the network is under stress, e.g. supply from the inter-connector. The problem is that this has happened enough times to become a major issue, leading to extensive media coverage, finger pointing and public outcry.

The reporting around this issue can be likened to the climate science debate I discussed in my last post – i.e. overly prone to hyperbole and lacking in basic facts. The solution that has been proposed for South Australia is the rapid construction of battery storage and into this foray stepped Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla). Some months ago, after power supply problems in South Australia hit the headlines yet again, he made the offer to build a major Lithium-Ion storage facility in 100 days, with no payment required if construction was delayed beyond that period. Not surprisingly this galvanized the government and led to a public tender for such a facility.

Last week the South Australia government announced that Tesla had won a tender to build a grid scale battery. The project will incorporate a 100MW peak output battery with 129 megawatt hours of storage alongside an existing windfarm, near Jamestown. Elon Musk flew into Adelaide for the announcement, which added to the fervour. What was interesting was the reaction in the media, ranging from support bordering on adulation to downright condemnation. Contrast the July 9th Sun-Herald, where their social commentator Peter Fitzsimons noted;

Oh, how sweet it is. After all the haters, all the pile-ons, all the craven dinosaur politics which maintains that coal really does have a future, the SA government shimmies, shakes, steps left, steps right, bursts through into clear and announces its lithium battery deal.

. . . with political commentator Tim Blair in the Daily Telegraph on July 10th, who starts a near full page article with the headlines;

Charge of the left brigade – People are falling over themselves to fawn over magic man Elon Musk’s battery absurdity but he is just the latest saviour to get the green light from eco worriers.

Neither are energy commentators of any note, but such is state of the energy transition debate in Australia that this doesn’t seem to matter. The controversy highlights the need for clear policy and thoughtful steps forward in implementing an energy transition, irrespective of the reasons driving such a transition, be they climate change, energy costs, local air quality or some combination of these and other needs.

In the case of South Australia, exuberance and some technology bias led to a rapid shift in the electricity system to a point where stability became a problem, which will now take some time to correct. The battery solution isn’t a full solution at all, but one of several measures that will be required to correct the imbalance that has been created. Alongside the Musk excitement, there was also the recent announcement that the government will build additional gas fired generation capacity at a cost of over A$300 million.

The South Australian electricity system operates at around 2-3 GW, with peaks and troughs depending on the time of day and year. Annual demand is some 14,400 GWh, or about 40,000 MWh per day. The initial battery capacity is 129 MWh. The gas capacity can add over 5,000 MWh per day if it operates continuously, or 13% of the demand. While the battery commanded all the headlines, it is clearly not a solution for extended periods of high demand or reduced supply, given that it can hold only 5 minutes of South Australian demand. However, it is an important step in the quest for a more balanced system that has very high levels (often >70%) of intermittent renewable energy. Further battery systems are likely, but a better balance between natural gas and renewable energy would appear to be the more achievable outcome in the short to medium term. It is also likely to be the more cost efficient outcome, given the ~A$100 million investment required (according to a local private source) for what will be the largest Lithium-Ion battery system in the world.



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