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Living at the edge of the grid, a distant community in Western Australia experienced severe power quality and uptime issues. Bush fire, a natural disaster common in the area knocked down the poles and overhead lines, with a high cost for the local utility to restore and maintain. Thomson Solar and Schneider Electric partnered to create a solution by powering the community with a standalone off-grid system. This solution is replicable to all small and mid-size dwellings living at the edge of the grid suffering from power-quality issues and where utilities must invest a large amount to maintain the commitment of reliable power for a small customer base.

As the homeowners were electing not to reconnect to the local utility grid, the system had to meet certain operating standards. The goal was to generate electricity on-site independently of the grid, using storage to assist in operating large three-phase loads while also providing power at night and during cloudy conditions. The system was designed to provide grid autonomy, yet with no undue inconvenience for the homeowners.

Schneider Electric provided a solution at a fraction of the cost of replacing power poles and overhead lines. The entire system is self-contained, and was deployed in a short time frame to restore power to the site. It shows that solar energy can be more cost-effective. This, in short, is the promise of standalone energy systems.

Read our full case study to learn more about this project, and why the Conext XW inverter charger was chosen for this project.


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No decision has more impact on the system cost and performance than the choice of inverters as this dictates design constraints for much of the balance of system. Today, system designers have more options than ever when architecting solar systems. While this may seem like a great advantage, these options necessitate an ever-growing number of decision points in the design process.

Before selecting brand or model the designer must first choose the macro level class of inverters, central or three phase string inverters. Until recently, the normalized price of string inverters (as measured in $/W) was much higher than central inverters, making the decision to use central inverters for utility-scale quite straightforward. That unit price gap has greatly diminished, resulting in a heightened debate on the relative merits of central and string inverters, often without empirical data to support the arguments.

The jury is still out on which is the so-called “best solution” and likely for good reason as the overall system size has such a significant impact on the relevant answer. In my article for Renewable Energy World, I analyzed the relative merits of central and string inverters in a typical system in North America.

The analysis is limited to the relative costs of central and string inverters for utility-scale projects in North America in three areas: CAPEX, inverter service life and true cost of service.

Read article on or view in-depth version with further analysis of utility-scale system performance requirements and operating efficiency here.

Rueil-Malmaison (France), May 23, 2017Neoen, the premier French independent power producer and Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, have signed a 750 MW Conext SmartGenTM multi-year framework agreement on three continents.  The scope includes: conversion stations composed of 1500V inverters, medium voltage switchgear, transformers, and complete monitoring and control system, as well as lifecycle maintenance services.

Neoen and Schneider Electric welcome this collaboration as a major joint initiative in providing more affordable and reliable clean energy.

Neoen decided to enter a framework agreement to secure electrical design, launch grid impact studies at an early stage in the development process, and leverage volumes.  “We selected Schneider Electric after a global competitive process based on the best LCOE[1].  Having worked with Schneider Electric on the Cestas 300 MW project we were pleased with Schneider Electrics’ level of involvement, responsive service team, and track record of their high performing operating plant solutions,” explained Xavier Barbaro, CEO of Neoen.

“With a global footprint and long-term commitment in Solar, Schneider Electric delivers projects and long-term service contracts for solar power plants worldwide in an efficient way, which will continue to benefit international solar businesses such as Neoen. We decided to set-up a dedicated service team to support Neoen and their EPC partners to increase reactivity and support in this very dynamic market,” said Robert Immele, Solar Business CEO at Schneider Electric.

[1] Levelized Cost Of Energy

About Neoen

Founded in 2008, Neoen is an independent producer of electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind and biomass) and is the first private French company to attain 1000 MW of installed power. Neoen operates in France, Australia, El Salvador, Mexico, Zambia, Mozambique, Jordan, Jamaica, Portugal and Ireland. Neoen’s main shareholders are Impala SAS (owned by Jacques Veyrat), the fund Capénergie II (managed by Omnes Capital) and Bpifrance. Neoen aims to attain at least 3,000 MW by 2020.

See for details

About Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. With revenues of ~€25 billion in FY2016, our 144,000 employees serve customers in over 100 countries, helping them to manage their energy and process in ways that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. From the simplest of switches to complex operational systems, our technology, software and services improve the way our customers manage and automate their operations. Our connected technologies reshape industries, transform cities and enrich lives. At Schneider Electric, we call this Life Is On.

Hashtags:  #Solar #ConextSmartGen

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While the PV inverter market is relatively mature, the digitized PV industry is in its infancy.  Only a few leading equipment providers offer embedded intelligent software inside their equipment.  A digitized smart PV plant provides several distinct benefits including: improved monitoring and information to operators, higher energy yields, lower failure rates, and lower O&M costs.  All these valuable enhancements complement existing digitization of the BOS on both the DC side and the medium voltage side as well.  This means that monitoring is now possible on the complete PV plant level.

As more PV plants are connected to the grid, the need for customized management is also on the rise.digitization of the O&M activity is becoming even more critical to provide highly efficient actionable information to further improve the performance of each PV plant at competitive costs.  Web based monitoring solutions now complement traditional SCADA systems with even more analytical functions being added, thanks to the power of the cloud.

Since a PV plant has a life span greater than 20 years the back-end operations require strong relationships with equipment suppliers to ensure bankability of a PV project.  Over the past decade, Schneider Electric has built a strong knowledge base of PV plant operations, and is considered the global O&M provider with the most affiliated fleet of inverter OEMs per GTM Research Spotlight.

The transformation of O&M through digitization is happening via the integration of #IoT in equipment design, supported by SCADA, web monitoring, and data analytics.  The roles are evolving to reflect these changes; asset managers can now count on global O&M providers like Schneider Electric who can operate PV plant equipment under a single solid digital platform and enjoy lower cost of ownership and more competitive LCOE.


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