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SMA Solar’s Hybrid System to Target Huge Off-Grid Market

SMA Solar has announced that it would enter the market of solar-diesel power networks with a new product line of solar panels. This has left analysts hopeful that sales at the company will be boosted.

CIX Diesel Generator.

This new solar panel product line allows diesel generators to draw power from solar panels. It is called the Fuel Save controller, and SMA Solar says the company will start producing it in 2013.

A diesel generator consumes a large amount of expensive diesel fuel, so using it alone is not economical. Solar electricity is cheaper, but is intermittent, and diesel generators are only needed to compensate for this intermittency by generating electricity when the sun isn’t shining, or when the weather is too cloudy.

This system is built to utilize solar energy to reduce the fuel consumption of diesel generators. SMA Solar has not stated how much the controller will cost.

SMA Solar is a manufacturer of inverters, which are devices that convert the DC current that solar panels generate into AC current that household appliances can use (which is normally 120 volts AC).

“Potentially, this is a gigantic market. But you need to differentiate between potential and reality,” said Matthias Vetter, an expert in autonomous power supplies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.

According to GlobalData research, the market for diesel generators will almost double from $12 billion USD in 2011 to 22.3 billion in 2020.

Rivals of SMA Solar, including off-grid power specialist Elgris and unlisted German firm Juwi, have also begun to develop systems that are intended to enable solar and diesel generators to run efficiently side by side.

Source: Reuters 
Photo Credit: Tom Raftery

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