As medical facilities, hospitals, workplaces, shopping malls, resorts, cities, and others make substantial investments in order to become less dependent on conventional power grids, various distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar photovoltaics (PV), energy storage systems for batteries, wind turbines, fuel cells, and generators have begun to achieve their sustainability objectives.
Redundant power systems create a higher degree of reliability, but only if the DERs are handled intelligently and matched with the value of each load they support. To ensure implementing proper electrical installations, you must consult with a qualified electrical consultant or get in touch with a leading provider who can offer you the ability to analyze the available power sources and loads carefully. Doing so helps you evaluate which loads DERs should be prioritized for preserving operational consistency, irrespective of what happens on the grid.
How Energy Control Centers Functions?
Think of the ECC as the ‘brains’ behind the process. Real-time load and source data are collected and examined to make real-time autonomous decisions that maximize the site’s energy usage. The ECC uses advanced algorithms to assess the available energy sources and their condition, as well as to analyze the load priority and energy requirements to decide when and what the DERs are to be used for in the electrical installations’ plan.
Currently, most installed solar PV systems cannot function during a power outage; however, the ECC-connected solar PV systems can supply power when combined with another DER, a grid forming an anchor resource. Loads are prioritized as either Critical, Necessary, or Regular. Additional DERs may be brought online, or standard loads may be shed during power interruptions or peak demand times.
Emerging Need For Photovoltaic Energy Sources
In today’s buildings, renewable photovoltaic energy sources are rapidly being incorporated in electrical installations to provide power to building loads. The inclusion of photovoltaic sources may be a challenge for those constructing such an electrical installation. This is especially valid for existing buildings, where in addition to the demand for electricity and the power generated by PV, restrictions due to the existing electrical infrastructure need to be taken into account.
Indeed, the electrical installation of a photovoltaic system may be connected to the building at various locations: to the main low-voltage (LV) switchboard, to the secondary LV switchboard, or upstream from the main LV switchboard. This blog post addresses these choices, their benefits, and disadvantages.
Present Buildings With Medium/Small-Scale PV Production
The design used primarily in existing buildings where PV output is much lower than building consumption is PV generators’ connection to the closest secondary low-voltage switchboard. This method is mostly used in existing multi-floor buildings, where the output of PV, generally on the roof, is far from the main LV switchboard, which is normally at ground level.
Indeed, the cable length between the PV system and the main LV Switchboard can be considered in such circumstances. Connecting the photovoltaic system to a nearby secondary LV switchboard will reduce cable length and promote photovoltaic system integration. However, this architecture has critical limitations, including.
The complexity of electrical installation design, management, and maintenance, especially if there are several dispersed PV sources in the electrical installation plan.
The scope of limited or restricted upgradability, since an improvement in the production capacity of the PV system or the addition of other local production or storage, can entail substantial changes, such as the resizing of the current electrical infrastructure.
For Existing Buildings With PV Production Exceeding The Demand
Connecting the PV system upstream from the main low-voltage switchboard is always the method taken in existing buildings where the addition of PV output is greater than the building’s consumption. In this scenario, connecting the PV system to the secondary or main switchboard will overwhelm the current electrical infrastructure and entail alteration, such as replacing cables, switchboards, and safety equipment.
Linking upstream from the main switchboard offers a safer choice as it does not entail any alteration of the main LV switchboard or other system components downstream from the installation.
Corporate initiatives and environmental standards are moving towards greater sustainability. Adding an ECC to your facilities’ electrical installations is a step towards integrating sustainable distributed energy resources. Not only will you be able to operate your power systems reliably and efficiently, but you will also be able to configure your system to set benchmarks and collect power system data that will help you achieve your sustainability goals effortlessly.