Whether it’s producing energy to sell back to the grid, self-consume, or ensure access to backup power, there are a lot of advantages for businesses to choose solar as an alternative form of energy.
To follow up with Tuesday’s blog post, here is a rundown of some of the common ways that solar is being used in commercial applications:
- Grid-tie is a common installation configuration for a photovoltaic (PV) or solar system. Grid-tie is also known as on-grid, grid tied, utility interactive, grid inertia, or grid-direct. In this application, electricity is generated by the PV system and routed to loads (component that consumes power – e.g. appliances and lights), offsetting the utility electrical load of a business. In many locations excess energy can be sold back to the utility providing the business with a form of revenue. Large systems are typically installed without energy storage, while small systems can include it.
- Backup power systems incorporate energy storage, usually in the form of batteries. Batteries are charged through the utility connection and inverters. When there are utility power fluctuations (brown-outs or outages), the inverter provides continuous power to critical loads. Battery power can also provide energy to assist when powering intermittent heavy loads, thereby reducing operating costs. (Note that a solar array and chargers can also be added to this system to reduce utility electrical load).
- Self-Consumption means that the energy generated by a photovoltaic system is consumed by the commercial enterprise. When the price to buy electricity is higher than the price to sell it, the revenue due to self-consumption is higher than the profit of selling electricity to the grid. The objective is to consume 100% of the energy produced by the PV system.
- Off-grid systems are completely disconnected from the utility grid. This system typically includes a solar array, solar chargers, batteries, and controls. In this configuration, energy is collected and stored to meet all power requirements. The addition of a generator provides additional autonomy, capacity for heavy loads, and battery charging when solar energy is reduced. In a scenario where a generator is providing prime power in an off-grid location, the addition of a PV system can offset the costs of both fuel and generator maintenance.