If you’re an honest solar salesperson, historically you’ve always dreaded a certain question: “Will my system keep running when the power grid goes down?” The dread is because without energy storage the answer was no. Batteries have long been expensive, and most buyers were still stomaching adding solar power. Customers definitely want energy storage – and, in key markets, we’re starting to see deployments, however its still typically around $10,000 more to make that happen and companies like Tesla – even with “mad growth” – are running a tight supply ship.
Enphase wants to deliver the hardware to change that answer: the IQ8. And, in a report from solar installer on Run on Sun, we’re starting to get glimpses of what Enphase has been talking about since the summer of 2017.
From the Run on Sun description:
One of the engineers switched off the breaker that connected the PV array to the grid… and nothing happened! Well, actually, a lot happened, but what didn’t happen was that the red light did not go off. It didn’t even flicker to the extent that we could detect it. But then when you looked at the display you noticed something amazing. Not only had the microinverters created a grid on their own in fractions of a second, but they had throttled the output down so that now the production of the PV array exactly matched the load of the red light!
In essence, the IQ8 – with all of its integrated smarts – has the ability to understand what is going on in the household and react. The system will feed as much electricity as it has access to based upon sunlight available and solar power capacity, and it will adjust on the fly. Also noted by Run on Sun was when too much energy from the house was being pulled – more than sunlight and installed capacity could provide – the whole system shut down, only to instantly restart when the excess load was removed.
Smart. Real smart.
We already know that First Solar proved to California that its hardware – solar panels plus inverters – can offer grid services on its own. And we’ve also got results from Hawaii and NREL, plus very recently from PG&E in California, that show electric utilities can tap into and make use of module-level inverters to help manage the grid. This Enphase technology suggests an even greater level of intelligence from the household level that the utilities haven’t even contemplated yet.
While Enphase does believe energy storage has a very important role to play, as can be seen in their broader Ensemble line, you no longer “need it,” and that’s a revolution in solar power.
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