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Month: June 2023

Solar, but in space!!!

From Corey S. Powell at WSJ:

In this age of wireless everything, engineers are trying to perform the ultimate act of cord-cutting: generating abundant solar electricity in space and beaming it to the ground, no power cables required.

The idea and how it works is basically putting a huge solar array in space, and beaming it the power via microwave like a huge wireless charger, which is genuinely cool. But it’s not like we’d suddenly be getting rid of large power farms on earth:

Bringing space-based solar power to the masses will require not just a lot of satellites but also a lot of antenna farms on the ground. Two gigawatts of beamed power would require about 25 square miles of receiver, according to a Solaris-funded report by the research firm Roland Berger.

Doing some googling, 2 GW of solar farm would likely also require close to 25 square miles of land use, but you’d get less interruption due to weather since microwaves don’t give a fuck about clouds. And I’m sure a lot of this tech will continue to miniaturize over time.

Regardless, this kind of tech development excites me, even though it’s still in early stages.

Republicans are trying to screw the solar industry to spite Democrats again

From PV Magazine USA:

The “Build it in America Act” contains cuts to the two cornerstone tax credits. The Act also makes cuts to the federal electric vehicle tax credit, both for new and used EVs.

This is the second attempt by a coalition of House members to overturn the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit, two policies that are at the core of the United States push toward low cost, carbon-free electricity. The first attempt, which smuggled IRA cuts into the debt ceiling raise bill, was thwarted in negotiations that led to expedited environmental reviews for energy projects of all types.

Why. Just stop it. Get some help.

Fronius STATE 301

Inverter at question is a Fronius IG Plus 10kW, installed in 2010. When I arrived, the AC was turned off. Turned AC back on, plugged Data Logger back in. The first time the inverter finished its startup cycle, the house lights kinda blinked a little bit and it threw a 301 error code (Overcurrent sensor, but typically an inverter problem) . Second time it finished the startup cycle, it successfully started producing at about 3500 watts. Given that it’s 10:30 AM and clear outside, I’d expect it to be producing much higher than that. After the Data Logger booted, it started beeping regularly, flashing all 4 signal lights as red.

Tech support confirmed my suspicions. We checked the other power stages’ states and both were 306 (Insufficient PV Power, which is not the problem here). The inverter keeps clicking like it’s trying to activate the upper power stages, but is unsuccessful. He also said the Data Logger was likely dead.

Two solutions: We can pay to send the inverter back to be rebuilt, which only holds a 1 year warranty for the repaired parts, or buy a new inverter. Tech support said once all is said and done, we’d already be in for the cost of at least half a new inverter anyway. Most sensible solution is to buy the new inverter. As far as the Data Logger, most new inverters these days come with monitoring, so no worries there.

Solectria inverter power cycling

At issue is a Solectria (now owned by Yaskawa) PVI 85 KW inverter that’s turning off and on. I was able to witness it powering off and on in the morning when I got there, but as the day went on, it stayed on. Errors present are “Power Derated” and “AC Contact Open”.

Most recent was the AC contact open error, and very likely the main issue is the AC Contactor, but that “power derated” error makes me nervous that the DGMI is bad, too.

The unfortunate thing about the DGMI possibly being bad is that Yaskawa no longer replaces DGMIs.

It’s probably still likely that the contactor replacement is worth the risk. I’ll update as I know more.