Solar energy is always seen as one of the ideal clean energy solutions. The Sun creates enough power every second to satisfy the world’s energy needs for more than two hours. However, it is still not common enough, particularly in countries that stand to benefit the most.
2018 energy statistics showed that only 2% of the world’s energy was obtained from solar power, highlighting our dependence on expensive infrastructure and outdated grid technology. Seeing the problem, Planet Ark Power has developed an innovative solution that has a high return on investment. Its solution is to use artificial intelligence to update grid technology. With this solution, Planet Ark Power targets rapid growth as a company and takes an important step in solving the energy problem of the world.
Solar Energy: It’s Effective As Long As It’s Efficient
Rooftop solar systems have been providing easy and clean energy solutions for years – especially in places with high annual sunshine duration. Australia, home to Planet Ark Power, is one of the leading countries in this field. In fact, they are the world leader in rooftop solar systems in residential areas. This success motivated Planet Ark Power and other players in the Australian clean energy market to target a specific goal: to become efficient in the distribution of surplus energy and commercial and industrial-scale solar systems. It soon became clear that the existing grid technology is part of the problem.
Outdated Grid Technology
The electricity grid itself created a major stumbling block for solar energy solutions to become widespread. Today’s grid technology is unfortunately old – not only in Australia but around the world. 20th-century energy grids only have one-way systems and their duties were relatively simple: to receive the energy from large power plants and to transfer it to the users. Today, however, things have changed.
The demand from these grids now is to work multi-directionally and to handle all surplus energy generated as well. This is a duty that they cannot handle. As a result of this increased and diversified demand, voltage regulation problems start to happen.
Richard Romanowski, the executive director of Planet Ark Power, explains why the existing grid technology is not sufficient: “Think of a freeway. A five-lane freeway… and they are going bumper to bumper cars, 100 km per hour. And up ahead, someone stops and backs up. That is what it is to send the energy from the rooftop solar to back to the grid.”
As a result of this “energy conjunction,” there is a cap on the maximum amount of solar that can be exported from residential areas or suburbs at 15% of substation capacity. Energy network companies apply restrictions once after this threshold is met. As a result of this, commercial and industrial rooftop solar installations are not large enough for these specific sites and there is a zero export limit. In other words, clean energy potential goes to waste. This also reduces the return of investment on these solar panels.
The Planet Ark Power Solution: A New Approach To Grid Technology
Solar energy systems are an effective solution but existing grid technology creates an obstacle that prevents it from reaching its full potential. This leads us to the next question: How can this old grid technology be dealt with?
Changing and updating this grid technology is one alternative, but it is a very expensive process. Plus, it puts a lot of burden on the users’ shoulders. Seeing this situation, Planet Ark Power approached the situation in a unique manner. It created a device with the help of artificial intelligence. The device is assembled behind the meter of a solar panel and has the capacity to fix voltage problems at the source. Thanks to this early solution, the voltage stays within the statutory limits. The device immensely increases the capacity of the electric network to accept and distribute the energy. Companies carry the cost instead of taxpayers, and that creates a greater return on investment with the help of this technology.
Australian Solar Energy Companies Continue to Inspire
The Australian solar energy market is growing, and solutions that are created continue to inspire the whole world. Planet Ark Power is looking to grow its commercialisation and raise more investment for its upcoming projects both in Australia and around the world, including California, southern France and South America. While Planet Ark Power focuses on outdated grid technology and the ways in which commercial and industrial buildings can be incorporated for solar energy, another Australian company, Allume Energy, is focusing on making solar power accessible to multi-metered buildings. After identifying the distribution problems and regulatory obstacles of multi-dwelling buildings, Allume developed a technology called SolShare. SolShare allows users to share electricity between residents in a multi-metered building, which means having clean power cost-effectively for the residents.
As Richard Romanowski from Planet Ark Power stated, even though outdated grid technology may seem like a problem for the communities where solar systems are widespread, as the switch to sustainable energy continues, the need for new technologies as such would increase. In this sense, solutions from countries with years-long experience in solar technology are highly inspirational.