A collaboration to make solar plug and play5 minutes
Guest blogger Ben Polito is co-founder and President at Pika Energy, a power electronics manufacturer based in Westbrook, Maine. In June, Panasonic and Pika Energy announced plans to offer a product line of DC-coupled solar smart batteries.
Along with exciting developments in solar technology in recent years, a new question has emerged: How do we handle the large amounts of power being generated from this renewable source?
Practically speaking, utilities can’t indefinitely support large amounts of intermittent renewable energy feeding the grid. In fact, over two weeks during March 2017, California produced so much solar power the state had to pay Arizona to take its surplus energy to avoid overloading its own powerlines, according to the Los Angeles Times.
U.S.-based inverter manufacturer Pika Energy teamed up with Panasonic to simplify the union of solar-generated energy and distributed, behind-the-meter storage. In June, the two companies announced the Harbor Smart Battery™ product line for solar-plus-storage. The Harbor Plus™ and Harbor Flex™ batteries promise a simpler, smarter way to store and manage clean energy.
Distributed energy storage systems are not only desirable to the end-customer, who can self-consume stored energy and use clean backup power when the grid fails. These systems are also a fundamental requirement of the continued growth of renewables on the U.S. grid. The problem has been that behind-the-meter energy storage systems have been too clumsy, too inefficient and too expensive to meaningfully scale in a maturing PV market.
Most of these legacy solar plus storage systems involve discrete components that can only communicate through lots of additional hardware. Adding to this, a recent study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that interconnection – along with acquiring permits – was among the highest non-hardware costs of delivering solar plus storage to a customer.
Advantages on both sides
This is why Pika Energy’s partnership with Panasonic makes so much sense. Combining our power electronics, which use Pika’s patented REbus DC Nanogrid™ to seamlessly integrate clean energy devices (think USB for clean power) and Panasonic’s DCB-105 lithium ion battery technology, we’ve developed the Harbor Smart Battery. This DC-coupled solar smart battery offers industry-leading performance specifications and can be installed by a single technician in less than an hour, dramatically reducing the complex processes of yesterday’s solar plus storage systems and keeping installation costs to a minimum.
Sometimes, the best products are the result of collaborations between market-leading global brands and small, creative groups that can enhance each other’s advantages. Pika Energy’s innovative electronics and agile product development, combined with Panasonic’s brand recognition and industry expertise, has resulted in a truly disruptive and fundamentally better energy storage product perfect for the full range of solar plus storage applications.
To stay up to date on the latest news in solar energy, be sure to visit Panasonic’s microgrid blog.