What is a Solar Diesel Hybrid System?

Power from diesel gensets have provided hundreds of gigawatts to industrial companies and states all over the world. Yet the rising costs of fuel and the additional transport and storage charge may put their main electricity source in jeopardy. Also, the power grid in many regions of the world can be unreliable or unavailable. This is why Industrial companies and states are turning to alternative energy sources.

In recent years, PV system and batteries storage cost have steeply dropped making it an affordable energy source for companies in remote areas. Using only a PV system and solely relying on the solar irradiation (even if there’s plenty of it and it’s free), isn’t a safe bet for an industrial consumer as PV production can be inconsistent. This is why Industrials are resorting to PV Diesel hybrid system.

For such a complex energy generation, an energy management system like ePowerControl is required and help to increase the reduction of consumption of fuel depending on the configuration. But before talking about such advantages, let’s dive deeper and see what is it and how it works.

Power limitation and zero export 1
Table of Contents

What is a solar diesel hybrid system?

Solar hybrid systems are power systems that combine solar power from a photovoltaic system with another energy source. One of the most common hybrid systems being PV diesel hybrid system, coupling PV and diesel generators, also known as diesel gensets. The diesel generators are used to steadily fill in the gap between the load and the power generated by the PV system.

Battery storages can be used to enhance the overall system performance to ensure that the amount of energy meets the demand. An energy management system can also be included to optimize the system as the diesel gensets capacity is limited and the solar energy production is inconsistent.

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How does a photovoltaic diesel hybrid system work?

Depending on the consumer and their situation the main energy can be the grid power, the PV system or the diesel genset. When it is tied to the grid we would talk about on grid system and when it’s isolated, this is an off-grid system. (poor grid to link)

In any case, those energy sources are used to complements one another. Whether the goal is to fill in the gap made by grid failure or to reduce fuel expenditure, the PV system can supply additional energy. Batteries can also be used to store the excess energy to be used later on.

An energy management system like ePowerControl can ensure fuel saving and optimal operation of the overall system.

What are the advantages of a solar diesel hybrid system?​

There are multiples benefits to solar-diesel hybrid system.

  • Increased PV penetration: Voltage can be driven to unacceptable volatility or out-of-range values by PV solar systems, eOS solutions can be used to to support the integration of distributed PV solar on their grids.
  • No wasted Energy:
    With the right equipment, the energy generated during the day is not wasted or fed back into the grid. It can be stored and used whenever needed.
  • Uninterruptable Power:
    When the grid fails or when the PV production isn’t enough the system still keep going.
  • Hybrid Systems can be programmed:
    With the help of a EMS like the ePowerControl, hybrid systems can computer control their whole system and balance the available sources of energy. Elum Energy’s engineer can provide a custom control and monitoring solution giving more reliability and more savings as it reduce operating and maintenance cost in the long term.
  • Environment-friendly: The use of sustainable resources reduces CO² emissions.

What are the components of a photovoltaic diesel hybrid system?

  • Diesel genset
    Diesel Gensets provide energy through fuel consumption. They are most of the time used in poor-grid (recurring power outage) or off-grid sites as a backup or the main energy resource. Their operating cost is high because of the constant need for fuel to power all the connected equipment but can even increase because of the fuel cost which fluctuates.
  • Energy System management (EMS)
    The eOS system is an EMS which can be used to monitor, control, and optimize the performance of the generation or transmission system, being the bridge between the PV systems, the gensets and loads. The ePowerControl can not only ensure maximum security but also minimizes CO2 emissions, fuel and maintenance costs. The ePowerMonitor enables the user to monitor their installations and to analyze the current load and grid condition.
  • Photovoltaic system
    A photovoltaic array is the complete power-generating unit, consisting of any number of PV modules and panels. PV panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for generating electricity. They use the solar photovoltaic (PV) technology that converts solar radiation into direct current.
  • Solar inverters
    A solar inverter is one of the most important elements of the solar electric power system. It converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into the alternating 240V current (AC).
  • Batteries
    Batteries can be added to store the excess energy provided by the PV system. Thus being used when there is a lack of or no PV production.

Which situation benefits from a photovoltaic diesel hybrid system?

The best use cases for a solar diesel hybrid system can normally be found in remote areas. These places are often off-grid and transport and storage of diesel can be expensive. But be it, poor grid or off-grid, all situations can benefit from a hybrid system.

In a poor-grid situation where the electricity supplier is unreliable and the power cut regular, ePowerControl controls the PV inverters active power output to achieve minimum diesel generators loading constraint to eliminate the risk of reverse power flows to the gensets during outage events, when gensets are the main source of energy.

In a off-grid, ePowerControl manage all the components of the PV hybrid system and optimize its use-schedule according to the prediction of the solar generation, the cost of fuel and the batteries charging status. The PV system is then used at its maximum capacity and the fuel consumption is considerably reduced.

Learn more about Elum’s use cases
Solar diesel integration of a Mining Company in Brazil
850 kWp
Solar diesel integration of a mining company in Brazil
ePowerControl HFS cuts fuel usage in an 850 kWp off-grid mining project in Brazil, optimizing solar-diesel integration.
Solar diesel integration of 5 Star Superspar Mall in South Africa 2
360 kWp
Solar diesel integration of 5 Star Superspar mall in South Africa
ePowerControl SD project ensures stable power for a South African mall during load shedding.
Khanya Gubangxa Content specialist at Elum Energy
Content specialist at Elum Energy

Khanya joined Elum energy in  2022. She has been reporting on solar and renewable energy since then.

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