Solar + Storage: Demand Better

The use of the word ‘smart’ has evolved; it was commonly used to describe a person of quick intelligence or ready mental capability. Today, it is more likely to be used to describe how clever a particular technology is.  In that respect, it is certainly an apt description of a new solar energy system that Tim Madeiros of Alternative Energy Systems (Bermuda) Ltd. (“AES Solar”) has brought to Bermuda, which will allow people to go totally off-grid and be power self-sufficient.

The owner/founder of AES Solar, Mr. Madeiros, was approached by German firm, Sonnen, to be its representative on the Island and establish a Sonnen Center. Already the market leader in Europe, the firm is expanding into the US and its technology and product offering is, according to industry analysts greentechmedia and
pv-magazine, much more advanced than that of Tesla.

Batteries are a key component of a self-sufficient off grid solar system. Based on the Sonnen battery specs, Mr. Madeiros believes the Sonnen batteries are significantly more efficient and better at storing power than those manufactured by Tesla. According to the analysts, “the Tesla Powerwall was designed for weekly cycling, giving it a lifetime of around 500 cycles at 80% DoD”, whereas “the SonnenBatterie can charge and discharge at least 10,000 times at 100% DOD.”

But as Mr. Madeiros points out, “the Sonnen product is also an energy management system. It will manage the energy load and will even check the weather forecast to determine if the weather is going to be sunny. Tesla does not come with any management system, inverters, or charge controllers.”

The Sonnen system will monitor the entire load distribution and manage the loads according to the energy stored in its batteries and the solar production. If production is low, the Sonnen Energy Management system will direct energy to the critical loads only unless programmed to either pull in excess from the grid or initiate an external generator supply.

The SonnenBatterie “manages the loads in a person’s home. It can turn up the air conditioning or turn off the water heater and concentrate on critical loads if needed. With Sonnen, it is possible to take a home 100 percent off the grid and be totally self-sufficient in terms of power” noted Mr. Madeiros. Hence the word ‘smart’.  As such, Bermuda’s Solar Future Looks Bright.

Mr. Madeiros advised that he is also seeing a big uptick in business as more and more institutions are turning to solar energy as a way of reducing their costs in the long-term.  He noted that the 500kW SunPower Solar system that AES Solar installed on the roof at Gorham’s is about to come on-line, and Saltus Grammar School is also in the process of installing a SunPower solar system. This follows other commercial solar installations completed by AES Solar at Somersfield Academy, Goslings, Lindo’s, The Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo and Bermuda Veterinary Services.

“I would say that the pace of the solar energy industry is picking up. My business grows by at least 100 percent every year. It has never slowed down. The planning process is becoming more streamlined and Belco has been very user friendly,” said Mr. Madeiros, which, together with the enactment in the near future of the new Bermuda Energy Act will open up the electricity grid. This means it will be easier for home-owners, businesses and independent companies to install solar and feed it back into the grid at a pre-determined buy-back rate.

To ensure the greatest return on investment it’s important to ensure that your solar panels are generating the most power that they can. “There is only one company that manufactures a 22% efficient panel – SunPower”. SunPower panels hold the word record for power production, and given Bermuda’s small size, efficient power production is critical, whether it be on a roof or on the ground. Why settle for old technology when the best solar panels in the world are available for our market? SunPower systems are also the only panels to come with a 25year power guarantee AND a 25year workmanship warranty – so your investment is protected throughput the lifetime of the system.

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