Global smart energy technology provider, SolarEdge, has announced that its DC-optimised solar solution has been chosen to supply clean, renewable energy for 11 schools in Coventry and South Gloucestershire. Funded by grants from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, the rooftop PV systems are forecast to produce combined annual energy savings of more than £194,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 298 tonnes.
The installations were completed in separate projects by Ineco Energy, as part of wide-sweeping initiatives by Coventry and South Gloucestershire Councils to improve the energy efficiency of their public buildings. Ineco Energy chose a SolarEdge DC-optimised system to meet the councils’ requirements for maximum energy generation, enhanced safety and – crucially – to ensure the lowest possible operation and maintenance (O&M) costs over the lifetime of the systems.
“There are several reasons why we always recommend SolarEdge – from its ability to maximise energy generation to its suite of inbuilt safety features. However, it was SolarEdge’s real-time monitoring platform and long warranties that sealed the deal as far as both councils were concerned,” comments Angus Rose, Director at Ineco Energy.
“The majority of solar installations on schools are grant funded, which means individual schools may or may not have money for maintenance. The visibility provided by the SolarEdge monitoring platform will play a crucial role in helping to keep these costs to a minimum. Added to this, the long warranties offered on both SolarEdge inverters and power optimisers provide further peace of mind by ensuring these installs will perform at optimum capacity for far longer than traditional string inverter systems,” Angus adds.
In a SolarEdge system, power optimisers are attached to solar modules to track the performance of each module – or pair of modules – in real time, and to allow each to work at its own maximum power point. In the event of a problem, an automatic alert is sent to the maintenance team, identifying the exact unit at fault. This means problems can be remedied rapidly, saving both time and money. Further, it ensures that any energy production losses resulting from system underperformance are kept to a minimum. “This is in stark contrast to traditional string inverter systems, where problems can go unchecked for weeks or even months,” says Angus.
With just a six-week window during the summer holidays to complete all 11 installs, Ineco opted to use SolarEdge’s Three Phase Inverters with Synergy technology at several of the schools. Synergy is a modular system that splits the functionality of traditional large-scale inverters into three smaller, lightweight units, enabling rapid and cost-effective installation.
The Synergy series also provides an easy way to manage export limitations in line with G100 regulations, enabling Ineco to overcome local grid constraints. In addition, Synergy inverters can be oversized by up to 150%. This increases energy production from solar arrays without having to add additional inverters, helping to reduce costs. It will also ensure the PV systems are large enough to cope with what Rose believes will be an inevitable increase in demand for electricity due to the electrification of heat and transport.
“Typical of many councils around the UK, Coventry Council is already looking at ways it can further improve the energy efficiency of its school buildings. For example, by introducing heat pumps and even EV charging facilities on site. However, while this will reduce gas consumption, it will increase the demand for electricity. By using SolarEdge’s Synergy inverters, we have effectively ‘future-proofed’ the solar installations at the Coventry and South Gloucestershire schools by ensuring they have the capacity to grow in line with changing energy demand,” explains Angus.
In addition to working with Coventry and South Gloucestershire councils to improve the energy efficiency of their school buildings, Ineco Energy will use the SolarEdge platform to teach the students about the importance of protecting the environment. It has designed a sustainability ‘toolkit’ which will be supplied to teachers and school environmental clubs free of charge.