The Plug and Play Solar Power project addressed barriers to solar hybrid power system growth by developing ‘Plug and Play’ technology.
The rationale for the Solar Plug and Play Project was to simplify the integration, accelerate the deployment and lower the cost of incorporating solar energy with more traditional non-renewable generation to deliver greater reductions in CO2 emissions. These outcomes were particularly targeted at remote area power supplies (RAPS), but are equally applicable to any scale of off-grid or fringe-of-grid power.
The key pieces of technology to allow this to happen are reliable forecasting of expected solar output, a process to decide the appropriate response to any predicted variation in solar output, and linkages to integrate this decision with on the ground hardware.
What this means for the Solar Plug and Play project is the use of a skyward facing camera to capture periodic images of the sky, integration of algorithms to turn these images into a short term prediction for the next 15 minutes, and decision-support software to turn these predictions into sensible scheduling for any stored energy such as batteries, or energy production such as diesel generators.