Israel-headquartered SolarEdge has confirmed that it will be presenting Tesla’s batteries at Solar Energy UK in Birmingham next week, in addition to its new range of lightweight inverters and other products.
SolarEdge made its name in power optimisers for PV systems and has diversified into a number of related areas, including whole system solutions and becoming one of only two inverter makers so far to be compatible with Tesla’s forthcoming Powerwall batteries for the residential market.
Meanwhile, Tesla itself said the company would not be speaking directly to press ahead of Tesla Energy launching into the UK, which a spokeswoman has previously confirmed would take place during the first quarter of next year.
“I am afraid we are not doing interviews ahead of Tesla Energy introduction [sic] to the UK,” Laura Hardy, communications manager for Tesla in the UK and Ireland, said in an email yesterday.
Both the household system and Powerpack, which is Powerwall’s commercial sector equivalent, are based on the “powertrain architecture and components” used in Tesla’s EVs. While Powerpack is fully integrated, including DC lithium-ion battery packs as well as thermal management, monitoring, controls and inverter. The Powerwall on the other hand does not have its own inverter as part of the Tesla product. So far SolarEdge and Fronius are the only two PV inverter makers which have products that can be integrated with the battery, but it is understood that Tesla is open to other partnerships.
New inverter ‘could have won Google prize’
In an interview yesterday, SolarEdge also said that the company’s new residential inverter technology will be on display at the show. Unveiled in early September, the company claims HD Wave dramatically reduces the magnetic and cooling elements of a PV inverter. VP for product strategy and marketing, Lior Handelsman, said it could even have won the prize endowed by Google to find a compact solution for inverters.
In July 2014, the internet search giant launched “Little Box”, a competition with a US$1 million cash prize for designs that bring down the size of a PV inverter to one-tenth of the current size. Analyst Cormac Gilligan of I.H.S, who blogged for Solar Power Portal's international sister publication, PV Tech, about the competition as it got underway, also told PV Tech on the HD Wave's launch that SolarEdge’s inverters achieved many of the aims that the “Little Box” competition had set out to accomplish.
According to SolarEdge, by reducing the need for mechanical components, a typical inverter that weighed 22kg previously could be pared down to just 9.5kg. Lior Handelsman, explained further and replied to Gilligan’s comment on the product. He said that initial reactions to the product were good, although he was aware that people would probably rather see themselves before believing it. The SolarEdge man said visitors to SEUK at NEC next week, which is hosted by Solar Power Portal’s publisher Solar Media, would indeed have a chance to see for themselves.
“I believe that HD Wave, if we would have submitted it to the Google award, we probably would have won! We didn’t submit it, by the way,” Handelsman said.
“Some of the people I’ve spoken to were very enthusiastic, others were very sceptical whether we could make good on everything we said. At this show itself, you will have the chance to see the inverter, to see the actual size and feel the weight.”
Lior Handelsman said the devices will weigh less than 10kg for a 7.6kW AC inverter and reiterated a claim that the “very small, very competitive” HD Wave brings PV system efficiency up to 99%. By reducing the amount of mechanical parts and hefty metal elements such as cooper, iron and aluminium, Handelsman said the point was to replace those where possible with electronics, managed by algorithms that instead served the same purpose as much of the switching architecture. SolarEdge claim HD Wave reduces magnetics by a factor of 16 and aluminium parts by a factor of 2.5.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Handelsman also confirmed that the SEUK show next week will see SolarEdge showcase its PV system platforms in combination with the Tesla Powerwall battery. Asked for his impressions on a UK market for energy storage, Handelsman reflected on recent conversation with installers.
“We spoke to many many installers. Many feel storage is a good way to have an offering in the world of declining incentives. I’m not sure yet how the numbers will click together, but we are working with a lot of the players to understand more.
“We still believe in the UK market,” Handelsman added. In addition to HD Wave and the Tesla battery-linked system, SolarEdge will be presenting a new commercial inverter line “not HD Wave, but still very small and cost-competitive,” according to Handelsman, as well as a number of other non-inverter or optimiser products.