PV TechFebruary 10, 2020498
The proponent of a solar panel-level solar energy storage solution has enlisted an academic institution to test its systems on campus, in a bid to shed light on the solar power system’s performance and interaction with the grid.
California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) will roll out Yotta Energy's microstorage solar power systems across university buildings in the city of Carson, both organizations said in a recent statement.
Dubbed SolarLEAF, Yotta’s flagship product is a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) solar battery designed to be installed directly atop racking systems, on the rear side of PV solar panels. The product’s built-in fireproof cases and “thermal protection technology” will, Yotta claims, save solar installers from having to add expensive fire containment and HVAC systems.
Whether or not the predicted cost gains end up materializing if SolarLEAF reaches mass-scale viability, the new trials at CSUDH are meant, for now, to produce evidence around the solar power system’s power controls and its ability to carry out core tasks.
Areas the testing will examine with CSUDH’s help include how quickly SolarLEAF shifts energy and shuts down, the seamlessness of remote controls and the performance of the solar battery’s touted thermal regulation capabilities.
In their joint statement, Yotta and CSUDH explained the installation itself of the solar panel-level batteries should conclude in February. Ensuing tests will take place for at least one year, after which point the results will be released by both parties in the form of individual reports.
Yotta is not the first technology firm to attempt to take a microstorage product to commercial success. A few years back, Californian player JLM Energy added its name to the list as it billed its Phazr on-panel solar battery units as the longer-lived storage products it said PV solar power system owners were expecting.
Approached in 2017 by PV Tech’s sister publication Energy-Storage. news, JLM Energy’s CEO Farid Dibachi claimed Phazr units came with 20-year warranties – where peers in the space were typically offering five or 10 years – thanks to the firm’s lower production costs. Barely a year later, however, media outlets documented the firm’s descent into bankruptcy over debt and tax issues.
Other firms have however managed to use the on-panel approach as the starting point of a successful business operation, albeit in different segments. The list of micro product proponents includes SolarEdge – founded in 2006 around its solar panel-level power optimizers – and Enphase, which launched in the same year as the world’s self-styled first microinverter supplier.
For California, the micro storage milestone comes as the US state becomes a hotspot for ultra-cheap solar-plus-storage developments. In the space of a year, news has emerged of a hybrid in Los Angeles boasting tariffs of US$0.01997/kWh (solar energy) and US$0.013/kWh (solar energy storage), with another duo contracted at US$22/MWh near San Francisco.
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