eXpertpower | Solar PV Billing: An Integrated Architecture for Metering & Monitoring Solutions, A How To Guide For Improving Financial ROI & ROA

Home/Latest News/eXpertpower | Solar PV Billing: An Integrated Architecture for Metering & Monitoring Solutions, A How To Guide For Improving Financial ROI & ROA

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The increase use of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems demand a reliable electricity metering, monitoring and billing platform. SATEC’s Integrated Architecture provides a future-proofing solution, improves awareness of asset monitoring and repeatability metrics and solves revenue recovery reliability.

Setting the Billing Scene

Due to changes by the Australia Government’s National Measurement Institute (NMI), electrical metering for trade measurement, or billing, has become more complex. NMI Pattern Approved electricity meters are required for this application.

Working beyond invoicing for Energy (kWh) Consumption only, complex tariffs and applications must be solved. For instance, Time of Use (TOU) tariffs are becoming more common – these are generally ‘Peak/Off-Peak/Shoulder’ type requirements, or time periods during a 24-hour period whereby electrical networks see more or less usage from consumers.

Step Tariffs, or Inclining Block Tariffs, see rates charged for energy consumption different based on the use – e.g. First ‘<100 kWh’ charged at $00.20 and next ‘>100kWh’ charged at ‘$00.15’. Maximum Demand application work towards penalties or rewards for lessening power demand during certain periods, usually the ‘Peak’ time in TOU arena. Moving on from this, TOU Maximum Demand or Seasonal TOU are further complex billing applications future trade measurement professional must consider.

Metering Choices – Which one is for me?

The challenge is choosing between low cost electrical metering solutions and investing in Advanced Smart-Meters incorporating features and benefits commonly misunderstood.

Below highlight various features not available on entry-level products such as Data Logs, Event/Asset Logs, Time of Use (TOU), Harmonic measurements, Maximum Demands, etc.

Billing applications require Energy (kWh) readings. But asset monitoring, particularly with Solar PV, must have electrical metering and monitoring which provides electrical measurements and monitoring beyond just Energy (kWh) Billing Data.

Just relying on Inverter Manufacturers data is not enough. Operators should measure and monitor Solar PV generation and consumption with separate metering from the inverter alone. The reason for this is first due to accuracy of data, and next to improve reliability of such data.

SATEC meters comply or exceed measurement accuracy standards Class 0.5S or Class 0.2S per IEC 62053-22, giving confidence in measurements particularly when low load conditions are present. SATEC meters are manufactured in-line with ISO 9001 requirements coinciding with ISO 17025 laboratory quality regulation systems.

Along with 5 Years Warranty and 5 Years Accuracy Guarantee, these assurances, as detailed above, guarantee results and repeatability in measurements when using SATEC solutions.

An Integrated Architecture Solution

An investment decision based purely on upfront cost alone without considering the longevity of the product is often proven very short-sighted and results in higher lifecycle costs. Certain characteristics define the difference between systems of the past and solutions of the future.

Operators or consumer require data for custody transfer type arrangements, such as Small Scale Technology Certificates (STC), Large Generation Certificates (LGC), Feed-In Tariffs or particularly in the growing area of Power Purchasing Agreements (PPA).

Data Logging should be provided within the chosen metering hardware solution. Unstable or unreliable communications, demand this function. Regional locations, or areas with inconsistent cellular signals present challenges with unstable communications. For this reason, meters with internal memory prove a ‘Best in Class’ and reliable solution.

Internal memory within meters, such as Electrically-Erasable-Programmable-Read-Only-Memory (EEPROM) provides redundancy of data should a communication issue arise. If a loss of communications occurs, SATEC’s eXpertpower provides data integrity by ‘backfilling of data’ avoiding missing electrical and financial information.

Through use of SATEC’s Integrated Architecture eXpertpower Billing Platform, Return on Investments (ROI) are improved. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model or In-Premises Solutions are both available, unique compared to other vendors, yet provides cost effective solutions for operations and deployment.

Asset Management

Another major metering and monitoring requirement is for asset management. This can be performed using methods in compliance with ISO 55000 and/or through measurement and monitoring electrical parameters beyond only Energy (kWh) for billing, but also values such as Power (kW), Voltage (V), or Current (A), Power Factor (PF), Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), etc.

Solar PV Inverters are prone to power quality issues, since their AC waveforms are generated by Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT). IGBTs are driven by Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), and the respective output of the waveform can incorporate noise such as harmonics.

Harmonic measurements from electrical metering hardware provide awareness of the health of the Solar PV system. Measurements of other parameters such as Power Factor (PF), Apparent Energy (KVA), or Reactive Energy (kvar) give further indication of asset performance.

Improvements in Return on Asset (ROA) calculations can be achieved. Effective metering and monitoring applications will determine Solar PV efficiency, power quality and repeatability. A simple crack in a panel or failing IGBT circuit could limit efficiency and dramatically reduce revenue collection.

Furthermore, unplanned repairs can be avoided and ultimately predictive maintenance can finally be achieved improving lifecycle costs and ROI. Future proofing through advanced metering selection is the key!

With SATEC’s Integrated Architecture, both hardware and software metering and monitoring solutions, Solar PV consumers and operators finally have a simplified approach and confidence in their chosen system backed by quality assurance.

Contact SATEC for further information – the eXperts in Energy Management