Zhongli Talesun Solar has released a new range of PV modules with real-time module-level performance monitoring at SNEC 2014, International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference and Exhibition. This is another welcome addition to the evolution of ‘smart modules’.
The Talesun Smart modules are fitted with a monitoring circuit that allows for remote monitoring of individual modules and more precise data logging. The recorded data is more detailed as the behaviour of modules can be examined individually and assessed against the overall performance of the PV system. According to a recent press release, the recorded data can be accessed remotely via computers, tablets and smartphones.
Another feature touted for the Talesun Smart modules is the ability to control the electrical isolation of the panels remotely. This becomes particularly beneficial in case of emergencies (specifically fires) or maintenance and potentially improves the overall safety of the system. In addition, the modules are designed to cease operation if electrical and fire faults are detected, however, further technical details were not provided in the press release.
As a pre-requisite for smart modules, this latest offering is also fitted with power optimisation circuitry to balance and optimise the overall performance of PV modules within a string. And with more efforts being directed towards power balancing R&D, even operating at the cell‑level, further improvements are likely.
The motivation behind this type of advanced performance monitoring scheme is to identify under‑performing modules in order to quickly rectify performance and reliability issues. This ability becomes particularly valuable when dealing with a large number of panels, for example at large commercial– or utility‑scale PV installations. Without detailed monitoring, fault-finding and debugging can become a ‘needle in a haystack’ situation.
The monitoring features are in practice quite similar to some advanced micro‑inverter technologies, which provide DC-AC transformation at the module level, and which are becoming increasingly popular choices for new PV installations because they eliminate the need for a large centralised inverter.
PV technologies which provide the ability for high-resolution data logging, such as Talesun Smart modules, are essential for good quality control of PV installations, not only at the time of installation but also throughout the guaranteed life of the PV system. What it boils down to is the fact that continual monitoring of PV system performance is a means to ensure good returns on your investment.
Top Image Credit: Talesun Solar USA