SCE Energy Solutions installs the largest Tigo Energy optimised rooftop solar at De Bortoli Wines in Bilbul NSW. 

De Bortoli Wines is Australia’s 6th largest overall and second largest family winery located 6.5 hours west of Sydney in Bilbul. The installation involved the installation of solar to three main switchboards (MSBs) on multiple roofs throughout the site.  

Before working with SCE Energy Solutions and Tigo Energy, they had installed 250kW almost a decade ago and had firsthand experience of the issues associated with Legacy solar, fault finding, etc. like all wineries they also suffer from a mould that attaches to the rooflines and subsequently to the solar panels.

Before starting the project we had many issues with roof structure integrity and available roofs near the correct MSB. New build purlin spacing caught us out with mounting engineering having to be completed on the run seeing 500+ panels requiring three rail installations and the tilted panels to the new sheds needing a tripod tilt system in place of standard tilt legs.

The largest part of the system on the new twin sheds showed us ample space to install the array with no power cables to the MSBs. We had to run 3.1km of large 150mm cables underground, overhead and along buildings back to two separate MSBs in two different locations to complete the inverter connections.  

De Bortoli is a forward-thinking company that adopts early technologies that assist with achieving its 10% energy reduction target each year. They have been looking to increase their existing 250kW system for some time although now was the correct time to install a solar system to cover their site baseline given the recent large increases in energy costs. The new solar system will cover 30-35% of their total energy usage and when in full generation will see the three MSBs the solar is connected to powered completely from the sun.

De Bortoli Wines and SCE Energy Solutions
De Bortoli Wines and SCE Energy Solutions

Having Tigo optimisation and monitoring will enable the highest PV system output. Optimization will allow them to mitigate string performance through individual panels being affected worse than others and the monitoring will allow them to see when panels are in need of a wash. The safety of rapid shutdown and the PV off buttons at every inverter station also gave them peace of mind when installing to most of their buildings and for servicing.  

Tigo Energy Intelligence enables SCE Energy Solutions to view site performance down to each individual module. In addition, SCE and customers view the incremental energy production enabled by Tigo optimisers, shown in the stacked green bars.

Tigo Fleet Management Software deployed by SCE Enery Solutions monitors over 20,000 modules from one dashboard.
Tigo Energy, Inc. a leading provider of intelligent solar and energy storage solutions, today announced that long-time customer SCE Energy Solutions has deployed Tigo Fleet Manager, an extension to the Tigo Energy Intelligence (EI) platform, featuring a powerful interactive dashboard that provides rich and actionable system performance data from the fleet down to the module level. SCE Energy Solutions (SCE) uses Tigo EI Fleet Manager to uncover and operationalize sophisticated insights about the growing fleet of solar systems in its care to deliver the highest possible standards of performance, reliability, financial stability, and safety to its customers.

With more than 3.44 million photovoltaic installations deployed, the installers behind Australia’s growing solar energy sector need advanced solutions to deploy, monitor, and manage constantly expanding portfolios of customer solar systems. As a Tigo Energy customer for over a decade, SCE now uses the EI Fleet Manager to monitor system performance and manage operations and maintenance (O&M) across the more than 20,000 solar modules deployed in its fleet of customer systems by operationalizing system performance data down to the individual component and fully using customizable groupings of systems by common attributes like equipment type, location, size, or status.

“Tigo Fleet Manager has been a game-changer for us because it provides unprecedented visibility into our customer fleet, allowing us to deliver on our system performance commitments and offering valuable new services,” said Jon De Martin, CEO at SCE Energy Solutions. “As our solar portfolio continues to grow, it would have been nearly impossible to consolidate the countless data points we rely on to deliver best-in-class customer service. Beyond performance monitoring, we now have such fine-grained visibility into the hardware we’ve deployed that it has completely transformed our operations and maintenance. Tigo EI Fleet Manager, combined with the TS4 MLPE platform, allows us to deliver superior performance as we grow into more and larger solar systems.”

SCE customer De Bortoli Wines is Australia’s 6th largest overall and second largest family winery. With the goal of 10% energy reduction per year, the winemaker engaged SCE to update and expand its optimized solar generation capacity to 1.15MW. The new system comprises more than 2,200 solar modules, including the existing ones, yielding De Bortoli Wines a system that now offers protection to first responders with rapid shutdown, Tigo optimization to protect system performance from module soiling issues common to winery operations, and module-level monitoring for detailed insight to system performance. Through the Tigo EI Fleet Manager, SCE leverages sophisticated new data visualizations designed to elevate what is actionable, reduce alert fatigue, and present installers with an intuitive interface that tracks critical operational, production, and consumption data across all modules at the De Bortoli site.

“We are a sustainability-driven winery with a comprehensive plan to reduce our impact on the environment, and the large increases in energy costs of late only further validated the decision to expand our solar generation infrastructure aggressively,” said Tarek Heiland, head engineer at De Bortoli Wines. “SCE has been a great partner throughout the upgrade and expansion process, and we are excited to have the latest Tigo technology for safety and performance. This solar system now covers 30-35% of our total energy usage in full generation, and we could not be happier about this investment.”

From visibility into pending and in-progress installations to comprehensive system and production status indicators, the EI Fleet Manager offers system diagnosis and in-depth monitoring of more than a dozen critical health and performance metrics for deployed solar systems. With this level of visibility, Tigo EI Fleet Manager makes it easy to pinpoint and quickly deploy mitigations across devices from various vendors, from the system level down to the module. Tigo EI Fleet Manager supports all system sizes – including residential, commercial, and industrial solar deployments – and use cases, from large multi-system fleets to individual systems, in meeting their safety and financial goals. SCE  has deployed Tigo IE Fleet Manager across its entire portfolio of customer systems, including De Bortoli Wines, Planet Fitness, the headquarters of Komatsu, Australia, and more.

“We are delighted to see major solar installation companies like SCE fully exploit the power of energy data with EI Fleet Manager to improve the solar customer experience, deliver valuable new services, and streamline internal operations,” said Zvi Alon, CEO at Tigo Energy. “As the volume and fidelity of data produced by solar systems grow, so must the sophistication, speed, and ease with which that data can be turned into actionable information. Our fleet tools do exactly that, and the installers who make full use of them create benefits for their customers and their operations. We look forward to continuing our journey with SCE as they grow their business and  continue raising the bar for solar performance, reliability, and safety in Australia.”

For more information about Tigo EI Fleet Manager and how solar installers like SCE Energy Solutions leverage the platform to manage growing portfolios of customer installations, please read the case study here.

This article was written and published by Tigo Energy.

Gym owners are no strangers to high energy bills with the significant amounts of power required to keep the air conditioning on and equipment running. However, with the ever-increasing energy costs, more and more gym owners in Australia are turning to commercial solar systems to power their facilities. But is it worth the investment? 

In this blog, we’ll explore the key reasons why our customers, in particular gym owners, have been investing in commercial solar systems, including the long-term cost savings, positive environmental impact, reduced reliance on the grid, tax benefits and how they can enhance the value of your property. 

Here are six benefits of commercial solar systems for gym owners: 

1. Lower Energy Costs

One of the biggest advantages of commercial solar systems is that they can help you save money on your energy bills. This is especially important for gyms that use a lot of electricity, By generating your own electricity, you’ll be able to reduce your dependence on the grid and avoid costly peak energy rates. This means that your solar panels are paying themselves off in energy savings within 2.5 to 3.5 years!

2. Increased sustainability

If you’re committed to reducing your gym’s environmental impact, commercial solar systems are a great way to do it. Solar energy is clean, renewable, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions, so you’ll be able to run your gym with a much smaller carbon footprint. 

For example, the 97.2kw Tigo Energy Smart Solar System we installed at Planet Fitness Thuringowa in Northern Queensland is reducing 120, 240 kg of CO2 emissions every year.

Planet Fitness Thuringowa Solar Installation
3. Improved reputation 

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their choices on the environment. By installing a solar system, you’re demonstrating your commitment to sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint. This can enhance your reputation and attract customers who are looking for environmentally conscious businesses to support.

At SCE Energy Solutions, we provide you with an entire media package, including photos and videos of the installation, a carbon reduction certificate and a live solar website so you can showcase to your customers the conscious effort your business is making to become more sustainable. 

4. Significant Returns on Investment

While the initial investment in a solar system can appear significant, with extremely high energy rates some of our customers are paid these off in under 3 years. Firstly, it’s important to know that solar panels are built to last. Most manufacturers offer warranties ranging from 25 to 30 years, with the panels continuing to operate efficiently even after the warranty period. This means you can expect decades of clean energy generation and substantial savings on your energy bills. 

We conduct a thorough financial analysis to determine the specific ROI of a commercial solar system for your gym. We assess factors such as your energy consumption, available roof or ground space for solar panels, tax incentives, and system costs to provide accurate projections of the financial benefits and payback period. 

5. Enhanced property value 

Commercial solar systems can increase the value of your property! If you own the building that houses your gym, installing solar panels can make it more attractive to potential buyers or tenants. Solar panels are a highly desirable feature for businesses that are looking to reduce their environmental impact and energy costs, so having them installed can make your property more competitive in the market.

6. Tax Credits and Incentives

In addition to the savings on your energy bills, installing a commercial solar system can also make you eligible for tax credits and incentives. The Australian federal government offers several tax incentives and rebates to encourage businesses to invest in renewable energy, as well as some Australian states and Territories. 

To determine what incentives and rebates are available for your business, you can consult with our solar specialists to help you navigate the various options and requirements for your property here

Ready to slim your energy bills?  

In conclusion, installing a commercial solar system is an excellent way for gym owners to cut costs, improve energy reliability, enhance their reputation, and make a long-term investment in their business. 

If you’re interested in learning more about commercial solar systems for your gym, schedule a free consultation with our team who can assess your energy and help you design a custom system that meets your needs and budget. With the right system in place, you’ll be able to power up your gym while also powering up your commitment to sustainability. 

Local Support – Arguably the most important factor is local support. It is not enough just to be ‘European’. Fronius is unique in the level of local support that we can provide for our partners, especially for an inverter manufacturer from Europe.

It’s not carbon taxes but peak demand that has caused electricity tariffs to increase.

Politically, the electrical transmission and distribution sector was accused of ‘gold plating’ – without recognition that without the ‘gold plating’ power quality would deteriorate. And now you’re paying for it; however, a power quality check-up can materially reduce your electricity bill.

Saving on energy we all understand – limit the kilowatt-hours and lower the electricity cost. The means for reducing consumption have been well documented.

No rocket science is involved – LED lighting, people movement detectors, building management systems (BMS), reducing stand-by power and engineering examples like make-up air in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning), preventive maintenance on compressors, condensers and more all help.

So let’s assume all the above measures have been undertaken or are in the process of being actioned. What more can be done?

The answer is plenty – and not necessarily immediately involving capital expenditure (CAPEX). Next, we’ll get to the interesting relationship between power quality, energy and the cost of electricity.

Irrespective of the percentage of cost or profit margin electricity represents in a business, any future proofing strategy you may pursue must take the facts shown in this graph into account.

The graph shows demand in gigawatts for Australia in summer (orange) and winter (blue) for the past 17 years. The fact is that the gigawatt-hours have been close to flat lining because of the closure of industries, as well energy saving measures, and the influence, albeit modest, of solar and wind power.

Demand, the instantaneous stuff as shown in the graph, has peaked but even though lower since 2008/2009, it is still a big headache for poles and wires folk. That is because they need to spend big CAPEX dollars to maintain reasonable power quality (in the first place think of voltage) in the face of peak demand – and peak demand has continued to grow.

Note that the graph shows average values over winter and summer periods and not what happens when, for instance, within minutes extra HVAC switches in. Again, it’s not carbon taxes but peak demand that has caused tariffs to increase.

The cause may have been politically ascribed as ‘gold plating’ by the transmission and distribution industry, but that was without recognition that with no ‘gold plating’ power quality would deteriorate.

What does energy in kilowatt-hours have to do with peak demand and power quality?

So your electricity meters are racking up demand charges that are not necessarily yours. Therefore, we will short circuit the electrical engineering and head for the meter room. You will note that the meters are electronic – no more revolving discs. These meters not only measure your kilowatt-hours, but also your demand in 15-minute blocks in kilovolt-amps (kVA) and this appears on your bill as a separate monthly charge.

The kVA tariff is there to help the poles and wires company amortise its ‘gold plating’ investment. If you can get your kVA down to equal the kilowatts, the chances are you will not cop an additional charge. In practice, however, that is not possible – on the other hand, reduction of demand is entirely possible.

Next is your power quality, which I have already mentioned as having constant voltage. Again avoiding lots of technical babble, back in the 1950s and earlier there was a thing called ‘voltage distortion’, which was close to a meaningless term – not so these days.

Also, back then, the days of bar heaters under desks, the current drawn by a typical consumer, was also without much distortion, if any. Distortion, or harmonics, increases the kVA demand, and it is a critically important factor of power quality. Modern meters do a good job on the task.

Today, though, the current drawn by your building can have significant distortion.

Power quality is affected by useless ‘froth’

This can cost your organisation even though you are not the cause. You can think of distortion, which is caused by just about anything that is plugged in, as useless froth on your drink, but you pay for it nevertheless. That is to say, you pay for it as a result of the meters being able to measure it.

This was not the case 30 years ago. The only kVA demand measured then was basically the additional kVA that had to be catered for because of loads like electric motors.

But there’s more. Your neighbours – and even the poles and wire people themselves depending on where you are located – are preventing you from getting voltage without much distortion.

The result is that the meters in your premises increase the demand kVA, not only by the distortion ‘froth’ your installation creates, but also the stuff that you are not able to do anything about because it is being supplied to you.

What to do?

The short answer is that if you have significant power bills, spend a few dollars to have a proper, extensive power and power quality analysis done. It’s a necessary condition for saving more on power than you are already doing.

It is the only way to have a meaningful chat with your electricity supplier and to get relief on tariffs, but – and it’s a big but – you need hard facts. The power and power quality analysis will also reveal where investment in hardware with good pay-offs in terms of reduction in energy bills can be made – no guesswork but a solid base for future-proofing investments for your business.

Melbourne University undertakes voltage optimisation » solarThe University of Melbourne has installed a 1150-kVA (kilo volt ampere) voltage optimisation unit for the mechanical services supply of its Law Building.

The decision was taken after the university conducted 100 hours of research into voltage optimisation (VO). The expected savings from VO arise from the fact that voltage levels can vary by as much as 30 volts a day, which results in excessive energy consumption and higher than necessary electricity bills.

Harry Troedel, sustainability manager Implementation, Property and Campus Services at the University of Melbourne, says the electricity savings gained could be more than 12 percent per annum.

“The energy efficiency of VO systems means that because we are consuming less energy, we are reducing our carbon footprint and carbon dioxide emissions, which is good news for the planet,” he says.

The system installed would supply voltage at a constant level regardless of input instability.

“So even if voltage to the site fluctuates dramatically, which could lead to equipment failure, it will ensure the electricity supply remains at a stable and secure level plus or minus 1.5 volts,” he says.

“This minimises the risk of equipment failures, a benefit not offered by simple VO systems. Also the voltage can be adjusted at any time if required.”

The VO system also provides exceptional stability to protect against spikes and surges, which also eliminates harmonic distortions and thus provides added protection and improved power quality.

This can result in an improved life expectancy of site equipment and reduced maintenance costs.

Energy efficiency, once dismissed as “Jimmy Carter trying to persuade [Americans] to wear an extra sweater and turn down the thermostat,” is now a booming high-tech industry, according to a report last week in the L.A. Times.

American electricity providers have tripled their spending on energy efficiency programs since 2006, the piece reports, and spending on efficiency technologies and programs reached $250 billion worldwide last year. According to the International Energy Agency, which compiles the numbers, spending could hit $500 billion by 2035. The flurry of activity not only involves new technology and efficiency upgrades, but an enormous growth in the use of data by power providers and other firms to profile customers’ energy use to recommend savings and improvements.

Google Inc. dropped $3.2 billion this year to purchase Nest, a company which designs high-tech thermostats that predict their owners needs — for example, precooking a home before the owners return from work. That allows utilities like Southern California Edison to smooth out load on the grid, moderating they big spikes in electricity demand that usually occur in the evenings. Meanwhile, data-mining companies like FirstFuel can pull thousands of data points from a home-or-business owners’ smart meter, check that against other information like weather history, and provide the customer with an extensive energy-use profile that comes with all sorts of suggestions for improving efficiency — all without an auditor ever setting foot on the property.

Then there’s Retroficiency’s Building Genome Project, which went through publicly available data on 30,000 buildings in New York City to show how enormous amounts of energy good saved with slight modifications.

“Millions and millions of dollars have been spent trying to figure out which buildings are inefficient,” said Retroficiency’s chief executive, Bennett Fisher. “Doing it manually has created a bottleneck. We want to blow open that bottleneck.”

Energy efficiency is one area where, by all accounts, there is a massive amount of low-hanging fruit to be had in terms of both energy use reduction and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. A study at the end of 2013, for example, showed how the average building in the nation’s own capital of Washington, DC wastes a great deal of energy — and how the savings from an efficiency upgrade would far outweigh the costs of the retrofit.

And the push is already underway: the last two updates to the International Energy Conservation Code — a building efficiency standard widely employed by state and municipal governments — resulted in combined efficiency gains of 30 percent. Nationally, energy consumption has increasingly diverged from economic production since the 1970s, with the former slowing while the latter continues apace — suggesting the American economy is getting better and better at doing more with less energy.

The International Energy Agency has shown that a collection of countries — including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Italy, and several Nordic nations — avoiding burning the equivalent of 1,500 million metric tons of oil in 2010 thanks to efficiency improvements. And that number has been steadily increasing since the 1970s as well.

In America, those improvements have been helped along by a number of state-level energy efficiency targets that have helped lay the groundwork and the market incentives for the current boom in energy efficiency firms. And while energy efficiency programs at the national level have been harder to come by, the Obama Administration’s new rules for reducing carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants include efficiency programs as one of the options, aiming for an overall increase of business and residential energy efficiency of 1.5 percent per year.

Admittedly, all this mining of energy-use data has raised concerns among privacy advocates. The LA Times noted at least one instance last year where immigration authorities, drug enforcement agents, and state tax officials issued more than 1,110 subpoenas for records of energy use from customers in the San Diego area as frequently as every 15 minutes. A big part of the problem is that the energy efficiency market sector is still fairly new. So laws, best practices, and utility methodologies are still being developed, all of which will be the focus of a fall conference sponsored by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“This is a big deal,” said Neal Elliott, the associate director of the conference. “But it is not a big deal unique to energy.”

Germany Now Produces Half Of Its Energy Using Solar » solar

Germany has set a new record, with solar power providing 50.6% of its electricity in the middle of the day on Monday June 9th. Solar production peaked that day at 23.1GW. Three days earlier it was 24.2GW between 1 and 2pm, but on the 9th demand was down for a public holiday, allowing the breaking of the psychological 50% barrier.

Reporting of the achievement has been quite inaccurate in some cases. Coverage has often confused electricity demand with total energy consumption, which properly includes heating and industrial uses of natural gas, although these would have been low on a warm public holiday. Headlines have often implied that the 50% threshold was exceeded for over a fortnight, rather than a single hour.

Nevertheless, the scale of the achievement is considerable. Germany is not a sunny place. Indeed more than 90% of the world’s population lives in countries with substantially more sunlight.

Germany Now Produces Half Of Its Energy Using Solar » solar
Even by European standards German solar panels have little to work with.

Consequently, it is wind, rather than solar, that has been the backbone of Germany’s Energiewende, the transition to renewable, non-polluting sources of power.

The shift to solar energy in Germany has not come cheap, with €16 billion of subsidies in 2013. However, by creating a level of demand that spurred mass manufacturing, Germany has played a large part in bringing the cost of solar panels down by 80% in five years, allowing other countries to follow in its footsteps for a fraction of the price, particularly those with more sunlight.

Moreover, where the initial stages of the move to wind were driven by government subsidies, solar power in Germany can now compete with fossil fuels on price alone, and continues to expand, albeit at a slower rate than a few years ago.

German solar production is up 34% compared to the same time last year as a result of both better weather and increased installations. While the first is unpredictable, increasing quantities of panels ensure that the 50% record will be breached again, probably this year.




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