How One Niche Company is Helping Solar Succeed
The solar industry, neither novel or new in concept, has captured the imagination of the public and the investment of private companies, generating a new spark of innovation around a sector that is finally gaining momentum. According to Wood Mackenzie's Solar Market Insight Report (Q2 2019), there were 1.6 gigawatts of utility-scale solar installed in Q1 2019, accounting for 61 percent of U.S. capacity additions this quarter.
According to Brad Micallef, managing director and co-founder of Solar Operations Solutions, LLC (Solar Ops), this output is equivalent to almost two nuclear power facilities being built in 3 months. "We manage more than 100MW across twenty large scale solar farms in North Carolina; this new growth has kept our firm very busy developing innovative services and products."
Since 2017, when Duke Energy first imposed new interconnection audit and technical requirements, Solar-Ops has been helping local developers such as O2 emc, LLC succeed in bringing new solar farms online; on-time and within budget. Micallef says, solving O2 emc's transformer in-rush current requirement resulted in a product invention that will help speed-up new solar projects interconnection with utilities. "Using the standard equipment available, there was not an economic or timely manner to solve the problem, so we invented what is now known at the XFMR-Sync Controller," said Micallef. "Our industry is really just getting started - it's very collaborative and ripe for innovation."
Leveraging their massive fleet of fully functional solar farms to prototype, iterate, and perfect products that close gaps is integral to Solar-Ops' mission. "It's a very rare opportunity, to be managing more than 100MW across twenty large scale solar farms, with a wide variety of equipment to ensure products are truly utility grade, says Micallef. "Most companies who are project driven, don't have access to equipment or the time to perfect solutions."
Solar Operations is launching their new XMFR-Sync Controller, designed and tested to mitigate in-rush current through a standard product offering that's proven to pass the utility's audit process and requirements. It's been successfully used on solar farms throughout North Carolina, where they're also currently preparing a solution to solve another interconnection requirement; rapid voltage change (RVC).
"The XFMR-Sync Controller is the first of several products we're releasing to solve these new interconnection hurdles. The utility's system study and following advanced study process take time, and are performed late in the project development stage, many solar developers are not even aware their project may have a problem to solve until after equipment is ordered," says Micallef. "By proving out these solutions early with our partners, other developers can be reassured we'll have solutions ready to help their solar projects succeed."