A local Rwandan solar company has recently launched an innovative new technology that can potentially double the life span of a solar energy system. Unfortunately, there are countless failed solar power systems installed throughout the country. The majority of these systems have stopped working within the first couple of years due to failed batteries. Great Lakes Energy decided to do something about this problem. If the batteries can be saved, then so can the system.
Batteries: Keeping them Alive
Batteries are important to solar power systems because they provide power when the sun is not shining. The energy is stored in the batteries, allowing for continuous and reliable power.
A battery life span is measured in cycles. A cycle is when you discharge and recharge a battery. In a solar power system, batteries are cycled daily; each evening the battery is discharged and each day recharged again with the sun.
Here is the bad news: the number of cycles in a battery’s life depends on how deeply the battery is discharged. Discharge only the top 20% of a battery, and it will have 2,000 cycles, thus a life of 5½ years. Discharge 80% of the battery and it will have only 500 cycles, 1½ years. Therefore, it would be best to discharge only the top 20%. However, with solar power systems, most people do not know how deeply their batteries are discharging until it is too late.
Great Lakes Energy created a technology to remotely monitor the discharge of the batteries to ensure their best possible lifespan. With the Remote Monitor and Control (RMC), both the users and Great Lakes Energy can see the energy usage and the status of their system in real time. If a battery is at too low of a level, they will contact the user to assist in returning the battery to a healthy level. GLE also has the ability, as per request of the user, to remotely cut off non-essential loads if the batteries are at a dangerously low level.
The batteries are the most expensive component to a solar power system. They typically cost 1/3 of the system. Consequently, it is very valuable to protect the batteries. With this new technology, Great Lakes Energy can remove the worry from the user because its engineers are constantly monitoring the health of the batteries and the system. With a simple phone call, a GLE engineer can save your system.
The RMC is made in Rwanda by Great Lakes Energy engineers and can be installed on any solar power system.