Rapid shutdown gets its first Sunspec certification in Fronius


In the potential for solar power to reach tens of terawatts of global capacity installed (we’re just over 0.5 TW these days), a lot of cash and organization is going to have to be shifted into developing, building and operating solar. For one, to access this cash from institutional investors you need repeatable, predictable, and publicly verifiable revenues, and second, in order to integrate all of this advanced energy, you’re going to need smart hardware.

This is where the SunSpec Alliance comes in, as it seeks to standardize the communication infrastructure, hardware and data coming from solar power plants.

And now with module level rapid shutdown on the same communication lines as the Sunspec-certified hardware, we get our first SunSpec Alliance Rapid Shutdown certified inverter: the Fronius Symo Advanced.

Within the series, Fronius offers 10 units, ranging from 10 kW through 24 kW, with 208-240 V and 480 V ratings. The tranformerless units weigh 90 to 100 pounds, and offer a multitude of communication standards beyond the SunSpec hardware.

Fronius’ website notes the base level Tigo TS4-F serves as compatible module-level hardware to complete the NEC 2017 requirements.

The SunSpec signal is able to make use of system power lines (above image) to transmit data. Thus the same cables sending the DC electricity from the solar module to the solar inverter, are able to also communicate the data that the SunSpec Alliance seeks to collect from the solar modules. Since rapid level shutdown introduces an additional data stream to the system, it makes sense to research (and certify) the potential interactions.

One benefit that investment groups have noted coming from the SunSpec Alliance data is high granularity and consistency of information across portfolios, which allows for high levels of analysis, and confidence in said analysis, when considering whether to invest in solar assets.

With securitization of project portfolios rising, and ranging from the smallest residential installations, into the larger commercial and industrial projects, offering better data is likely still a marketable asset. The residential lease companies are mastering these sciences, and their techniques and their banker demands will begin to filter toward anyone selling portfolios for third party ownership.

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