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Microgrids

Wind + Solar Power Systems For Homes Or Businesses

Maine-based Pika Energy* makes some very interesting products. One of its most notable is the T701 residential wind turbine, which has a capacity of 1.5 kW. Another is the REbus microgrid, which can be used to combine its wind turbine with solar panels and connect them all to a home to make a complete, renewable energy system. The system allows 2 kW of solar panels to be connected to it. I recently interviewed a Pika Energy engineer to learn a bit more about these products.

The advantage of a REbus microgrid is that you can generate your own electricity but still be connected to the main grid if you need it. (Most rooftop solar power systems don’t work when the main grid goes down — for example, during a blackout.)

Also, in some states, utilities are not exactly solar power friendly, so you might not be able to easily get a home solar power system installed and grid connected — like in some parts of Hawaii. The REbus microgrid has been created so that it can be integrated with energy storage solutions like battery systems so you can store electricity in case you need a backup. The REbus microgrid was also designed to prevent electricity losses that are typical with the main grid, which is generally inefficient. The microgrid eliminates excessive AC/DC conversions and reduces the amount of expensive copper wiring. It can also be used successfully with commercial buildings.

“All of Pika’s products operate on REbus, a 380 Volt DC bus. This provides design flexibility and ease of installation. The REbus smart microgrid has two primary layers of communication, that allows the electrical sources and loads to communicate and interact intelligently. Using the magnitude of the voltage on REbus, and also a power line communication protocol (PLC), Pika products are able to “talk”  to each other. In addition to communication, the PLC allows us to remotely access each individual component of a Pika system to update firmware and monitor the systems production. The end result is seamless connection of many REbus compatible devices all monitored using one system,” explained Pika engineer Phillip Swanson.

The Pika renewable energy system is compatible with energy storage too, so electricity generated by the wind turbine and solar panels can be stored for future use. “Currently we support most battery chemistries and battery banks with nominal voltages ranging from 24V–48V DC. We are especially excited about emerging battery technologies such as the Tesla Powerwall, and also Aquion batteries. Energy storage is a quickly developing field, and Pika’s engineers are constantly improving products to ensure we are compatible with the widest range of batteries possible,” said Swanson.

Pika’s compatibility with energy storage solutions is very important because many homeowners and business owners will want to be able to store electricity they produce. So, one could say Pika is future forward when it comes to energy storage and is ready for the trend to continue growing.

Also, as solar panels continue to decrease in price, it will be interesting to see how much more affordable solar power becomes.

 

*This article was kindly sponsored by Pika Energy.

 
 
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