Ever heard of Solar Power as a Working-From-Home Perk? Installing solar power systems is already a tedious process for homeowners, and with many of us working and learning remotely, we’re too distracted to get started. Those renting or living in states where policies have made solar power a no-go can forget about it — lower bills due to solar are a pipe dream. But as many companies scramble to keep their employees motivated and rethink perks while their employees work from home, a Washington, D.C.-based startup says it has a solution.

Arcadia describes itself as the first nationwide “digital utility” in the U.S. Since its founding in 2014, the company’s platform is now available in all 50 states and with more than 100 power utilities. Users can acquire a solar power subscription from Arcadia, buy as little as one solar panel or more, and see the results as a credit on their monthly utility bills.

Therein lies an opportunity for a company’s virtual human resources desk to offer a new benefit to employees.

It’s true that we’ve seen a decrease in emissions worldwide due to the novel corona virus pandemic; how much of a reduction varies by the sources consulted. But here’s the problem for companies: For those that are tabulating their emissions as part of their sustainability or environmental responsibility strategies, many of those emissions have simply shifted from the properties they own or lease to their employees’ individual homes. Solar power can help solve that problem.

After all, many individuals’ utility bills have bumped upward, as we’re leaving our devices charged and air conditioning units running with greater frequency — not to mention the fact we’re using our household appliances more (yes, opening that fridge door constantly as a procrastination tactic adds more to your utility bill in the long term). But with working from home becoming the reality for many through 2021, companies now have the chance to offer employees financial relief while swatting away some of their own emissions.

In a recent interview with Fast Company, Arcadia CEO Kiran Bhatraju said the company’s corporate clients so far include McDonald’s, SkySpecs and CustomerFirst Renewables. But with more companies saying that working from home for the most part ended up becoming a net positive after the initial shell shock, watch for Arcadia to win more clients as remote work is redefining the very notion of “perks.”

In Ghana, where the Corona virus has increased working  from home options for many employees especially in the banking sector. Nocheski has therefore developed  special packages solar packages at very competitive prices. Call 0244270092 for more information


Low cost, large-scale Battery  storage is the key to accelerating the renewable energy revolution, and now shrimp have been enlisted in the cause. The aim is to push down the cost of flow batteries by using bio-based materials such as shrimp shells. That would help ramp up the transition   out of fossil fuels and into clean power, thus saving the planet in time to avert a climate catastrophe.

Scientists led by MIT have suggested chitin, a carbon and nitrogen-rich material made from waste shrimp shells, could produce sustainable electrodes for vanadium redox flow batteries and other energy storage technologies.

Expert projections indicate a potential annual revenue of $2 billion (€1.8 billion) from shrimp farming in Ghana, which in 2015 had excited the country’s President John Dramani Mahama, who foresees it overtaking incomes from oil and gas if successful.

Thank you, shrimp. Wait, what is a flow battery?

 

Shrimp (May) Be The Key to Energy Storage That Flows

We’ll get to that flow battery thing in a minute. First let’s clarify the news about shrimp shells and energy storage, which has been zooming all over the Intertubes in recent days.

The news involves research published in April at ACS Sustainable Chemical Engineering under the title, “Exploration of Biomass-Derived Activated Carbons for Use in Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries.”

The research team did not exactly determine that shrimp shells are the best bio-based material for flow batteries. What they did was compare shrimp shells to pine wood, in order to develop a method for determining the performance of a wide variety of bio-based materials and develop a general set of design principles.

Got all that? Good! Shrimp could still come out on top, but shrimp shells are just one of many bio-based sources that could be used to produce the activated carbon used in flow batteries.

The bio-based approach is relatively new, so before anybody skips to the front of the line, there needs to be “a systematic approach to advancing biomass-based functional materials for use in energy applications,” as the research team explains.

If you know your atoms, you know what the team means when they conclude that “electrochemically accessible surface area, rather than the heteroatom composition” is a more effective representative of the material’s performance.

Spoiler alert: surface area is a big deal in energy storage performance.

Why Shrimp Shells & Energy Storage Go Together Like Rice & Beans

The big question is why shrimp shells for energy storage, and the answer is chitin. Pronounced KY-tin, chitin is found in the exoskeletons, beaks, scales, and other hard parts of insects and aquatic creatures, as well as the cell walls of fungi, with shrimp and crab being the most common sources.

Chitin is already commonly used for edible film and other food products. It also pops up in biomedical and pharmaceutical applications.

As a large-scale byproduct of the food processing industry, chitin is cheap, abundant, and available practically all over the world. In other words, perfect for a world in search of low cost, sustainable energy storage.

Chitin has been a wallflower in the clean tech field, but it lately it has been emerging as a sustainable alternative to petrochemicals, and there have been hints that it could be used to make solar cells.

About That Flow Battery…

So, flow batteries. For those of you new to the topic, flow technology has been around for a while, but it has gained new significance in the age of decarbonization because it can provide for large scale, long duration energy storage at a relatively low cost.

Shrimp to Spark Flow Battery Storage RevolutionLithium-ion batteries are still the gold standard for energy storage, but they only last for a few hours. In order to integrate more wind and solar into the grid, you need energy storage technology that costs less and is more flexible and resilient, and is capable of handling grid-scale operations.

Flow batteries fit the bill. The basic idea is that two specialized liquids can generate an electrical current through a chemical reaction, when they flow adjacent to each other. Typically they are separated by a thin membrane, though researchers have experimented with formulations that do not require one.

Membrane or not, the two liquids can be stored indefinitely in their own tanks, of practically any size. Aside from providing for large-scale storage, the setup does not lose capacity over extended down time, as is the case with conventional batteries.

The US Department of Energy is all over flow batteries as a sustainable replacement for centralized, fossil fuel power plants. The technology is part of the agency’s broader push for large scale, long duration energy storage.

Energy Storage, Now With Vanadium (Not Vibranium)

As you may surmise, flow batteries involve two key challenges. One is how to ramp up the efficiency of the chemical reaction between the two liquids, while keeping costs down. That’s where the new chitin research comes in (for those of you keeping score at home, the research team includes scientists from both MIT and Tufts).

The other challenge is to formulate the optimal liquids for enhancing the reaction. The chitin research team settled on the all-vanadium redox flow battery formulation.

That’s vanadium, not vibranium. Both are metals, but only one actually exists outside of the Marvel Universe.

Our friends over at the Energy Department are quite interested in the all-vanadium formulation. Back in 2012, the agency discussed the pros and cons.

“There are many kinds of [Redox Flow Battery] chemistries, including iron/chromium, zinc/bromide, and vanadium,” the Energy Department explained. “Unlike other RFBs, vanadium redox flow batteries (VRBs) use only one element (vanadium) in both tanks, exploiting vanadium’s ability to exist in several states.”

The one-element solution enables VRBs to avoid cross-contamination issues, which is a significant problem for other chemistries.

That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing for VRBs, though.

“Sulfuric acid solutions, the electrolyte used in current VRBs, can only hold a certain number of vanadium ions before they become oversaturated, and they only allow the battery to work effectively in a small temperature window,” said the Energy Department.

“The low energy densities and small operating temperature window, along with high capital cost, make it difficult for the current VRBs to meet the performance and economic requirements for broad market penetration,” the Energy Department summed it up.

That didn’t stop New York City from dabbling in the technology back in 2014, in a project featuring vanadium technology developed by the company CellCube.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been among those on the prowl for improvements to the technology, and the lab has come up with new energy storage chemistries that help keep costs down while addressing the energy density and temperature issues.

Last year the Energy Department surveyed emerging grid-scale energy storage options and noted that redox flow batteries “appear to be well positioned” due to the rapid pace of improvement in the technology.

As one indicator of stepped-up activity in the vanadium flow battery field, earlier this year the US company Avalon  joined with redT Energy of the UK to form Invinity Energy Systems, which bills itself as “the world’s leading vanadium flow battery company.”


A solar-powered  farm in Mali, West Africa, is stretching the boundaries of what’s possible. In a landlocked country well-known for producing Cotton, Rice Millet and Corn, the Complex Agro Industrial de Baragnouma produce fish – at a rate of 5 tons a day.All powered by Victron Energy and Fronius…

In order to maintain conditions in which the fish can thrive water has to be continually filtered and oxygenated. Water treatment takes a lot of power – at the Baragnouma complex that power is provided by solar energy from Fronius and victron.

It seems fatuous to say that the reliability of their remote power plant is paramount …but if the power were to fail for just 30 minutes, the fish would die.

It was decided at the outset, in 2014, that the farm would incorporate solar energy power provision to the greatest possible extent – though few could have foreseen the scale of its success. Ninety-eight per cent of the power requirement is met by solar energy, back-up generators providing the other two percent.

victron Energy & fronius: solar -powered agriclture in Mali

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0032.JPG

In fact there are seven off grid solar-powered electrical installations at the Complex Agro Industrial de Baragnouma which provide inexpensive sustainable energy not only for their pisciculture but also for: Chicken, Dairy, Fruit and Vegetables; a factory which produces animal feed; workers houses; and two small offices.

Fortunately sunshine is very dependable in Djoliba which is 40km from Mali’s capital, Bamako. Their investment over 6 years has exceeded a million dollars – yet these investments are lower than the cost of the diesel which would otherwise have been used. And the solar installations save more than 400 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The carefully orchestrated infrastructure includes a Fish nursery for 20,000 Alvins per cycle of production, which are reared in 8 ponds. There are a further 14 ponds each of 1000m² for the specie Clariidae. Thirteen much larger ponds provide the habitat for rearing Tilapia. There is a recycled water requirement of 14,570 cubic metres per day with pumps working at up to 180 cubic metres per day; and top-up pumped from boreholes.

victron Energy & fronius: solar -powered agriclture in Mali

The seven Off-Grid Systems have a total capacity of 520kW.  Generating a similar amount of energy using diesel would cost around $260,000 a year …add to that the cost of maintenance, transport for fuel, and depreciation of the generators and it’s easy to see how the cost savings, and power security make the solar option so desirable. And the farm operates silently – which is a bonus for the 100 or so employees who are all fully engaged with the project.

The installation was carried out by Sonikara Solar Electro – overseen by company CEO and Founder Mouctar Doucoure. Working with the support of Victron staff, it is a ringing endorsement of the technological ability of Sonikara that they have been awarded the maintenance contract to oversee this huge installation for the next five years – monitoring and maintaining the system so that it runs without missing a beat.

victron Energy & fronius: solar -powered agriclture in Mali

Anco van Bergeijk (support engineer for Victron in Africa) Mouctar Doucoure (CEO and founder of Sonikara Solar)

The Biggest standalone Victron/Fronius installation provides 3-phase power to the fish and chicken food factory – which can be seen in the video below. It employs:

In 2018 a dairy was added, together with a food processing factory. Last year saw the construction of some impressive looking greenhouses for vegetable production. As each success is chalked up so more new ideas are tried the owner has ever greater plans for the future of this diverse farming model.

The latest installation powers the greenhouses, and provides water treatment and pumping, together with a heat regulation system. It employs:

victron Energy & fronius: solar -powered agriclture in Mali

Other installations in this large farm complex provide:

    • 5kVA for the Egg incubators (poultry)
    • 10kVA for the Poultry farm
    • 60kVA for the Fish nursery and lab
    • 10kVA for the Offices and Conference suite
    • 10kVA Further offices
    • 3kVA for Employees houses
    • 3kVA for the Cattle farm

Victron products have a broad range of compatibility with third-party manufactured equipment. Fronius inverters and BYD’s Iron Phosphate chemistry batteries – chosen here for their scalability, and their ability to operate in temperatures of up to 55°C – all work seamlessly with Victron Solar Charge controllers, Inverters, and with our data-comms controller the Color Control GX (CCGX).

Using Victron’s Remote Management platform (VRM), the CCGX provides at-a-glance remote monitoring and management so that the Sonikara team can perform interventions whenever required, from their own offices.

Victron provides training and support in West Africa (and indeed all over the world) to ensure that the skills are available for projects of this scale to be built, and offers continued training to equip solar engineers with the necessary expertise.

victron Energy & fronius: solar -powered agriclture in Mali

The positive social and economic advantages are substantial and far-reaching. The farm provides fresh fish, chicken, milk and vegetables to the national and local market of Mali, Bamako.  In addition to the farm’s 100 employees, it provides work for local traders, and trickle-down benefits for other commercial operators.

Mouctar Doucoure said: The challenges of an off-grid electrical project of this size is to constantly adapt to growth, and to educate all involved. We accomplished this by creating local expertise and by expanding the systems step-by-step. The quality of wiring installations, batteries, and the system design was tested after each phase. Also; all the systems can be constantly monitored online.

Let’s take a look at the site through this informative video. It’s interesting to hear a word or two about how the video was made. Seizing the opportunity to provide experience for some Video School graduates in Mali, it was decided to commission them to film and produce the promotional video below.

Much was learned and the result by Israel Oron and his colleagues – former students from Conservatoire des arts of Bamako – is excellent:

 

The ‘win-win’ success of this project which creates useful employment; increases education; produces healthy food in a noise and pollution-free environment; as well as reducing costs and reduces carbon emissions – is that it becomes a beacon showing the way ahead …demonstrating how technology can be harnessed for the future benefit of local communities.

 

All images: Photos/Film: B-Twien Clicks | Film & Photo or Ewien van Bergeijk – Kwant.


Everybody wants the best solar battery in Ghana.There are certain specifications you should use when evaluating your solar battery options, such as how long the solar battery will last or how much power it can provide. Below, learn about all of the criteria that you should use to compare your home energy storage options, as well as the different types of solar batteries.

LITHIUM VS AGM Ghana

freedom won lithium-ion battery installed in Accra,Ghana

How to compare your solar storage options

As you consider your solar-plus-storage options, you’ll come across a lot of complicated product specifications. The most important ones to use during your evaluation are the battery’s capacity & power ratings, depth of discharge (DoD), round-trip efficiency, warranty, and manufacturer.

Capacity & power

Capacity is the total amount of electricity that a solar battery can store, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Most home solar batteries are designed to be “stackable,” which means that you can include multiple batteries with your solar-plus-storage system to get extra capacity.

While capacity tells you how big your battery is, it doesn’t tell you how much electricity a battery can provide at a given moment. To get the full picture, you also need to consider the battery’s power rating. In the context of solar batteries, a power rating is the amount of electricity that a battery can deliver at one time. It is measured in kilowatts (kW).

A battery with a high capacity and a low power rating would deliver a low amount of electricity (enough to run a few crucial appliances) for a long time. A battery with low capacity and a high power rating could run your entire home, but only for a few hours.

Depth of discharge (DoD)

lithium vs AGM ,DEPTH OF DISCHARGE GRAPH,GhanaMost solar batteries need to retain some charge at all times due to their chemical composition. If you use 100 percent of a battery’s charge, its useful life will be significantly shortened.

The depth of discharge (DoD) of a battery refers to the amount of a battery’s capacity that has been used. Most manufacturers will specify a maximum DoD for optimal performance. For example, if a 10 kWh battery has a DoD of 90 percent, you shouldn’t use more than 9 kWh of the battery before recharging it. Generally speaking, a higher DoD means you will be able to utilize more of your battery’s capacity.This has always been an issue in Ghana .Most people have erroneous impression that batteries need to be completely drained for batter performance.

Round-trip efficiency

A battery’s round-trip efficiency represents the amount of energy that can be used as a percentage of the amount of energy that it took to store it. For example, if you feed five kWh of electricity into your battery and can only get four kWh of useful electricity back, the battery has 80 percent round-trip efficiency (4 kWh / 5 kWh = 80%). Generally speaking, a higher round-trip efficiency means you will get more economic value out of your battery.

Battery life & warranty

For most uses of home energy storage, your battery will “cycle” (charge and drain) daily. The battery’s ability to hold a charge will gradually decrease the more you use it. In this way, solar batteries are like the battery in your cell phone – you charge your phone each night to use it during the day, and as your phone gets older you’ll start to notice that the battery isn’t holding as much of a charge as it did when it was new.

Your solar battery will have a warranty that guarantees a certain number of cycles and/or years of useful life. Because battery performance naturally degrades over time, most manufacturers will also guarantee that the battery keeps a certain amount of its capacity over the course of the warranty. Therefore, the simple answer to the question “how long will my solar battery last?” is that it depends on the brand of battery you buy and and how much capacity it will lose over time.

For example, a battery might be warrantied for 5,000 cycles or 10 years at 70 percent of its original capacity. This means that at the end of the warranty, the battery will have lost no more than 30 percent of its original ability to store energy.

Manufacturer

Many different types of organizations are developing and manufacturing solar battery products, from automotive companies to tech startups. While a major automotive company entering the energy storage market likely has a longer history of product manufacturing, they may not offer the most revolutionary technology. By contrast, a tech startup might have a brand-new high-performing technology, but less of a track record to prove the battery’s long-term functionality.

Whether you choose a battery manufactured by a cutting-edge startup or a manufacturer with a long history depends on your priorities. Evaluating the warranties associated with each product can give you additional guidance as you make your decision.

LITHIUM VS AGM, Ghana

Victron Energy AGM super cycle batteries installation in Accra

Automotive companies are jumping on the energy storage bandwagon

Home energy storage technology and electric vehicles are a lot alike: they both use advanced batteries to create more efficient, sustainable products that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As electric vehicles become more popular, more companies are dedicating significant research and development funds to developing batteries, and they’re expanding into the energy storage business. Tesla is the first mainstream example (with their Powerwall battery), but Mercedes-Benz and BMW are also bringing standalone batteries to the market in 2017.

How long do solar batteries last?

There are two ways to answer this question and the first is to determine how long a solar battery can power your home. In many cases, a fully charged battery can run your home overnight when your solar panels are not producing energy. To make a more exact calculation, you’ll need to know a few variables, including how much energy your household consumes in a given day, what the capacity and power rating is for your solar battery and whether or not you are connected to the electric grid.

For the sake of a simple example, we’ll determine the size of a battery needed to provide an adequate solar plus storage solution with national average data from our research at Nocheski Solar. The average Ghana household will use roughly 15 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per day and a typical solar battery can deliver some 5 kWh of capacity. Thus a very simple answer would be, if you purchased three solar batteries, you could run your home for an entire day with nothing but battery support.

In reality, the answer is more complicated than that. You will also be generating power with your solar panel system during the day which will offer strong power for some 6-7 hours of the day during peak sunlight hours. On the other end, most batteries cannot run at maximum capacity and generally peak at a 90% DoD (as explained above). As a result, your 5 kWh battery likely has a useful capacity of 4.5 kWh.

Ultimately, if you are pairing your battery with a solar PV array, one or two batteries can provide sufficient power during nighttime when your panels are not producing. However, without a renewable energy solution, you may need 3 batteries or more to power your entire home for 24 hours. Additionally, if you are installing home energy storage in order to disconnect from the electric grid, you should install a few days’ worth of backup power to account for days where you might have cloudy weather.

 

Solar battery lifespan

The general range for a solar battery’s useful lifespan is between 5 and 15 years. If you install a solar battery today, you will likely need to replace it at least once to match the 25 to 30 year lifespan of your PV system. However, just as the lifespan of solar panels has increased significantly in the past decade, it is expected that solar batteries will follow suit as the market for energy storage solutions grows.

Proper maintenance can also have a significant effect on your solar battery’s lifespan. Solar batteries are significantly impacted by temperature, so protecting your battery from freezing or sweltering temperatures can increase its useful life. When a PV battery drops below -1.1 ° C, it will require more voltage to reach maximum charge; when that same battery rises above the 32.22 ° C threshold, it will become overheated and require a reduction in charge. To solve this problem, many leading battery manufacturers, like Tesla, provide temperature moderation as a feature. However, if the battery that you buy does not, you will need to consider other solutions like earth-sheltered enclosures. Quality maintenance efforts can definitely impact how long your solar battery will last. Temperatures in Ghana range between 25-35 deg Celsius.

What are the best batteries for solar?

Batteries used in home energy storage typically are made with one of three chemical compositions: lead acid, lithium ion, and saltwater. In most cases, lithium ion batteries are the best option for a solar panel system, though other battery types can be more affordable. Order you Lithium batteries in Ghana here

  1. Lead acid

    Lead acid batteries are a tested technology that has been used in off-grid energy systems for decades. While they have a relatively short life and lower DoD than other battery types, they are also one of the least expensive options currently on the market in the home energy storage sector. For homeowners who want to go off the grid and need to install lots of energy storage, lead acid can be a good option.This is the most common solar battery type in Ghana.

  2. Lithium ion

    The majority of new home energy storage technologies, such as the , use some form of lithium ion chemical composition. Lithium ion batteries are lighter and more compact than lead acid batteries. They also have a higher DoD and longer lifespan when compared to lead acid batteries.  However, lithium ion batteries are more expensive than their lead acid counterparts.This is the least common solar battery type in Ghana

  3. Saltwater

    A newcomer in the home energy storage industry is the saltwater battery. Unlike other home energy storage options, saltwater batteries don’t contain heavy metals, relying instead on saltwater electrolytes. While batteries that use heavy metals, including lead acid and lithium ion batteries, need to be disposed of with special processes, a saltwater battery can be easily recycled. However, as a new technology, saltwater batteries are relatively untested, and the one company that makes solar batteries for home use (Aquion) filed for bankruptcy in 2017.This battery type is virtually non existent in Ghana.


Victron Energy CANvu GX …information you can touch! It’s so convenient to be able access all your system information via touch screen – and because the Victron Energy GX is a sealed-unit, you can install it in some challenging environments!

P67 rating of the Victron Energy  CANvu GX means that it is completely protected against dust ingress, and can even withstand half an hour’s immersion in water 1 metre deep!

The Victron Energy CANvu GX is the latest addition to the Venus family – the information gateway which allows you to set-up, monitor and manage all the component parts of your private energy installation. In exactly the same way as you use the CCGXVenus GX; and Octo GX – the Victron Energy CANvu GX gathers data from your Inverter/ChargerBattery MonitorSolar Charge Controller, and batteries to allow optimal communication between components, maximising battery-charging and solar harvest.

And, of course, it allows you to interrogate the status of each device. But amongst the whole family, it is the Victron Energy CANvu GX which is ideal when the information is required to be displayed outdoors, or in difficult environments.

The arrival of the Victron Energy CANvu GX will be welcomed particularly by those users who work in the open. It is entirely at home on board vessels at sea, or on building sites – in applications such as the control panel of Hybrid Generators. It is also ideal in factories where industrial processes are wet, or dusty.


The unit comes with a dash/fascia mounting kit:


Please note that in order to operate the Victron Energy  CANvu GX you will need an IO Extender and wiring kit, and that this must be ordered separately:

The full colour screen of the Victron Energy  CANvu GX will be familiar both in appearance and size to anyone who has seen or used the CCGX. The system offers 3 VE.Direct ports and one USB port; a second, separate CAN-bus port; and it can receive digital inputs. It doesn’t have a buzzer. WiFi is not built-in, but a USB WiFi dongle can be attached. A comparison of features between all members of the GX family can be found here.

Justin Tyers


Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution .These new Lithium-Ion, LiFePO4 chemistry batteries are often an ideal replacement for many 12V and 24V marine, automotive, caravan, motorhome, work vans and similar battery applications. It might even be for an overland motorcycle if using the smallest 20Ah version; to recharge a camera, phone or laptop for instance.

Other examples – take a typical small boat or van which may have a 110Ah to 220Ah lead-acid leisure battery for light continuous loads such as lighting, laptops, phones, instruments, powering a diesel heater, a fridge etc. And for shorter term loads maybe add a small inverter to charge power tools, run a small microwave or travel kettle for example. Using one SuperPack battery it matches well with the Phoenix Inverter VE.Direct 250VA – 1200VA range. Maybe you’ll add in around 100 to 200Wp of solar panels too using a small MPPT.

Regardless of the use, whichever SuperPack you choose it’ll be lighter than lead, can be smaller if you wish or give you more Wh in the same space – plus give you around 5 times the cycle life.

The main difference to Victron’s other lithium (often more kWh) offerings are the SuperPacks keep everything in one package, by having an integrated BMS and safety switch built-in. No additional components are needed as the internal switch will disconnect the battery in case of over discharge, over charge or high temperature. Simple, compact and safe.

If you are considering a new battery don’t immediately discount Lithium as being too costly. Whilst it is true that the capital cost of Li-ion is greater than that of quality AGM or Gel batteries – it is also true that the cost of ownership can be less than lead acid types. Much depends on your application, but rest assured – life with Li-ion is far less hassle than lead.

Over the last 8 years on my sailing yacht I’ve run AGM lead leisure batteries and Lithium-Ion propulsion batteries. Initially it was AGM for propulsion before discovering the effectiveness of Lithium. That journey taught me a lot about loads, capacity, cost and battery life – it’s one of the reasons why I think we’ve reached a tipping point and why these new SuperPack batteries may just be the ticket for your next project or battery replacement.

If in the first instance you are unfamiliar with AGM vs Lithium, then here’s a blog that explains that.

When to use a SuperPack?

Every battery size and type has it’s own particular use. For instance you may use the Lithium battery 12,8V & 25,6V Smart and the Lithium battery 24V (LiFePO4 & NMC chemistries) ranges (all of which have an external BMS) in quite different applications to the new SuperPack range. So, where to use the SuperPacks?

When it comes to replacing lead acid type batteries such as AGM and Gel in many applications, the SuperPack range can be considered the next generation after lead – making it far easier to replace lead with lithium. The only caveats being replacement is down to certain parameters being met, namely – Capacity (Ah), Voltages (12.8V & 25.6V), Discharge and Charge currents (C rates). Do in that case be sure that your chosen replacement fits your criteria by checking the datasheet and be aware the SuperPacks can be connected in parallel, but not in series. Hence in that case you would consider the other Victron lithium products named above.

The Lithium SuperPack

Victron Energy’s recently introduced Lithium SuperPack range comes in the following capacities and voltages:

12.8V & 25.6V Lithium SuperPack batteries:

  • 12.8V – 20Ah
  • 12.8V – 60Ah
  • 12.8V – 100Ah
  • 12.8V – 200Ah
  • 25.6V – 50Ah

These SuperPacks will give you 2,500 cycles to 80% depth of discharge at 25°C, much more than lead.

Comparison: SuperPack 60Ah LiFePO4 vs 90Ah AGM

Let’s compare the 60Ah Li-ion to say a typical 90Ah AGM battery discharged to the commonly accepted economic cycle life of 50% discharge for lead. That would give us 600 cycles at that DOD for the AGM compared to 2,500 at the even deeper discharge of 80% for the LiFePO4. Already you can see you may need to replace your lead-acid type battery 2 to 4 times as often as the Lithium. Of course loads, operating conditions and calendar life have to be factored in too. Regardless you get the idea – Lithium does more and lasts longer.

The benefits of Lithium don’t stop there though. Whilst LiFePO4 chemistry is considered the safest of them all, it’s worth considering other factors too to decide whether the reduced weight and volume of say NMC is of more importance for your application than LiFePO4 for example. Victron Energy do both types. These star graphs do a good job of explaining the differences: https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion

60Ah SuperPack

90Ah AGM

Weight
9.5kg 27kg
Size (mm)
229 x 138 x 213 350 x 167 x 183
Useable energy @ 25°C
614Wh 540Wh
Cycle life
2,500 cycles 600 cycles
Cost
x 2.5 (approx)  x 1

Notes for the table above:

  • Useable energy and cycle life are based on 80% depth of discharge for Li-ion and 50% for AGM, these being considered the most economic use of those battery types.
  • Higher loads with lead will further reduce available Wh (Peukert’s Law) when compared to Li-ion.
  • Capacity is also reduced for both types by temperatures below their 25°C temperature rating (see their respective datasheets)

Make what you will of the above and whilst you are pondering the pros and cons don’t forget to take these additional factors into account for the comparison above.

  • Shipping: If you are replacing your lead from 2 to 4 times as often as Li-on and the fact that the lead weighs around 3 to 4 times as much (depends on Li-ion chemistry used) – then do consider the extra shipping costs.
  • Voltage stability: The voltage profile is far flatter for Li-ion compared to lead.
  • Voltage sag: Subject to the load, voltage sag with lead is significant compared to Li-ion.
  • Li-ion has much faster charge times and if charging from a generator it saves on generator runtime.

Other factors to consider

Is the above enough to convince you of why Lithium might be a better alternative than AGM or indeed Gel? Personally I’m sold on Lithium, but if you are not here’s a few things further to consider:

  1. A lead-acid battery will fail prematurely due to sulfation if it operates in deficit mode for long periods of time (i.e. if the battery is rarely, or never at all, fully charged). It will also fail early if left partially charged or worse, fully discharged.
  2. By comparison a Lithium-Ion battery does not need to be fully charged. This is a major advantage of Li-ion compared to lead-acid which needs to be fully charged often to prevent sulfation.

  1. Efficiency. In several applications (especially off-grid solar), energy efficiency can be of crucial importance. The round-trip energy efficiency (discharge from 100% to 0% and back to 100% charged) of the average lead-acid battery is 80%.
  2. The round-trip energy efficiency of a Li-ion battery is 92%.

  1. The charge process of lead-acid batteries becomes particularly inefficient when the 80% state of charge has been reached, resulting in efficiencies of 50% or even less in solar systems where several days of reserve energy are required (battery operating in 70% to 100% charged state).
  2. In contrast, a Li-ion battery will still achieve 90% efficiency even under shallow discharge conditions.

Make the switch?

Are you ready to make the switch from Lead to LiFe? If you’ve considered all the above I suspect you might be. And if you need more useable Ah why not run the sums on say a 100Ah Lithium SuperPack vs 220Ah AGM using the process I have above. Or indeed a 200Ah Li-ion SuperPack vs your choice of lead.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Don’t forget too that Lithium has little or no Peukert effect when compared to Lead types. This is especially important when considering loads with lead-acid higher than 0.05C (Battery Ah divided by 20 or Ah multiplied by 0.05). In other words for a 100Ah AGM with a Peukert of say 1.15 or more and discharging at 0.25C (25 Amps in this case – which is 5 times the 20 hour rate) there will be significant reduction in capacity – as there will be at colder temperatures too. Li-ion has a Peukert of around 1.05 when compared to lead of around 1.15 to 1.25.

So – if you were discharging that 100Ah lead at 5 Amps (the 20 hour discharge rate at a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade) then the full capacity of 100Ah is still availaable and it’s not shrunk due to Peukert. But now if it were 0.25C, it’ll be around 80% of that original 100Ah capacity – or less, subject to load type and duration.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

The bottom line is you no longer have the Ah you purchased, whereas with Lithium there is little to no effect, helped by a lower Peukert and good voltage stability. That is especially important with constant inverter loads – a place where lithium shines. If you want to learn more about Peukert and run a spreadsheet to see such effects, then I have found this link most helpful.

Finally and one I’m always grateful of is vastly reduced charge times, no more waiting for hours of lead absorption charging to get from 80% to 100% SOC. Conversely Li-ion flies up to around 98% SOC in bulk with those last few percent in absorption to fully balance the cells – and unlike lead you don’t always have to fully charge to 100% as often. Note that your 12V charging system needs to accommodate 14.2V – 14.4V ‘absorption’ and ‘13.5V’ float. If charging from an alternator also note the maximum continuous charge currents for the 12.8V range, by checking the datasheet.

Downsides

Not wanting to sound too evangelical, we also need to consider the few downsides of Li-ion.

  • Higher upfront cost and to some extent higher capital risk.
  • Charging is restricted to the +5°C to +45° range, subject to an internal means of blocking the charge source when the temperature is below +5°C. Note this is currently automatically possible with Victron MPPTs when used in conjunction with the Smart Battery Sense for instance. Other products are being worked on to achieve this too and documentation to that effect will be updated in due course.
  • The SuperPack (unlike other Victron Lithiums) is not designed for series connections.
  • The peak and maximum continuous discharge current of the SuperPack range is not as much as some of our Lithium batteries as its related to the BMS and the disconnect being internal to the battery – so do check the datasheet to make sure the current peak and discharge ratings suit your needs – or choose from the Lithium battery 12.8V & 25.6V Smart or the Lithium battery 24V range or build a parallel SuperPack bank.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Conclusion

Whatever your decision when purchasing new batteries, maybe it is time to give the Lithium SuperPack batteries a chance. There’s LiFe after Lead you know – but as I’ve shown that all depends on what you want to achieve. Is it less weight, less volume, maybe it’s capacity or voltage or any of the multitude of factors that go into choosing a battery system.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Whatever you choose Victron have plenty of choice – with a large range of battery types and sizes: https://www.victronenergy.com/batteries

John Rushworth


Official opening: VICTRON-Competence Centre, Klagenfurt

A little over a year ago Victron Energy in association with Austrian Victron Energy dealer E-BOX Off-Grid Power Systems, together with HTL1 Lastenstraße and their headmaster Dr. Michael Archer forged a partnership to utilise Victron Energy products for their varied educational program – to build a ‘Competence Centre’.

As a result on Thursday, 5th December 2018, the new VICTRON-Kompetenzzentrum (VICTRON-Competence Centre) for ‘Renewable Energy and Storage Technology’ was opened at the school.

HTL1 Lastenstraße is a Higher Technical Institute in Klagenfurt, southern Austria, with around 1100 students and 120 teachers. The school trains engineers in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and mechatronics. It has around 34 workshops and laboratories as well as several competence centres. Another focus is ‘Land und Umwelttechnik’ (agricultural engineering and environmental technology).

This all makes HTL1 a unique training centre, not only for students from Carinthia but southern, eastern and western Austria. With the new VICTRON-Competence Centre training courses will specialise in the fields of energy storage technology, photovoltaics and energy management. Besides these courses Victron Energy have also been welcomed to run their own special courses at the school. In addition, interested companies will also have the opportunity to use this modern infrastructure for their own education and training events.

HTL1 Lastenstraße – The school is equipped with many different, modern photovoltaic-systems.

The school were particularly pleased to receive a visit from Victron Energy sales manager Leo Yntema  for the opening. Here’s a brief video (in German) of that visit and a few photos from the opening event.

https://youtu.be/r9wasVuZIUU

From left to right: Manfred Hartner – Managing Director of  E-BOX Off-Grid Power Systems, Dr. Michael Archer – Principal of HTL1 Lastenstraße and Leo Yntema of Victron Energy.

A student explains one of the 5 Workstations and its components at the opening.

From left to right: Andreas Albel, the teacher who is responsible for the VICTRON-Kompetenzzentrum and Leo Yntema of Victron Energy.

Equipment utilised

There are 5 workstations utilising Victron Energy equipment. Each workstation is equipped with its own separate 3kWp photovoltaic-system, plus each of the panels can be switched on and off separately.

Workstation 1: components / power storage / 3-phase
  • 3 x MultiPlus 48/3000/35-16
  • 1 x Color Control GX
  • 1 x Battery Monitor BMV-700
  • 4 x LiFePO4 battery 12.8V/90Ah – BMS
  • 1 x Battery Management System VE.Bus
Workstation 2: components / power storage / 1-phase
  • 1 x MultiPlus 48/3000/35-16
  • 1 x Color Control GX
  • 1 x Wall mount enclosure for Color Control GX
  • 1 x Battery Monitor BMV-700
Workstation 3: components / power storage / 1-phase
  • 1 x ECOmulti 24/3000/70-50 2,3 kWh LiFePO4
  • 2 x LiFePO4 battery 12.8V/90Ah – BMS
Workstation 4: Components / power storage / DC coupled
  • 1 x BlueSolar MPPT 150/85 CAN-bus
  • 1 x Wall mount enclosure for Color Control GX
  • 1 x Battery Monitor BMV-700
  • 1 x Venus GX
  • 24 x OPzV 200 Batteries
Workstation 5: Components / power storage / DC coupled
  • 1 x EasySolar 48/3000/35 MPPT 150/70 with Color Control GX built-in
  • 24 x OPzV 200 Batteries

Conclusion

It’s great to see the new VICTRON-Competence Centre now open and we trust it will serve as a valuable resource for the school and the young engineers of tomorrow.

This artcle was orriginally published on the victron blog by John Rushworth on January 31st, 2019

Links

Interview with Dr. Archer – https://www.victronenergy.com/blog/2017/11/13/back-to-school-with-victron-energy/

HTL1 Lastenstraße Klagenfurt Website – http://htl1-klagenfurt.at/index.php/en/

HTL1 Lastenstraße Klagenfurt on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HTL1.Klagenfurt/

E-BOX Off-Grid Power Systems Website – http://www.e-box.co.at


Siemens partners WestPark for industrial park in Takoradi

Siemens has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WestPark Enterprises to develop an expandable microgrid solution for the fast-growing industrial and business park based in Takoradi, Western Ghana.

The Westpark aims to eliminate many of the challenges faced by companies doing business in Sub-Sahara Africa, such as access to reliable power, water, broadband internet and transport.

 The new industrial park is poised to accelerate the transformation of Takoradi – Ghana’s third-largest city.To lay the foundations for reliable, competitive and efficient energy, WestPark has entered into a partnership with Siemens.

As part of the agreement, Siemens will develop a 250kW microgrid that controls the energy generation for the initial phase of buildings to be constructed at WestPark.

Siemens will design the microgrid so that the first phase of WestPark can be powered entirely by renewable energy and therefore provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution for tenants.

On-site photovoltaic panels will power the microgrid and a back-up battery storage solution will be sourced as well.

The grid can be expanded as more buildings are added with the aim of ensuring that the park remains powered by renewable energy.

According to Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, “This project is perfectly in line with Siemens’ vision for future business in Ghana and other African countries. As a company, we are continuously looking for new responsible and efficient energy and infrastructure solutions, and our collaboration with WestPark is a good example of how we can support partners with similar goals.”

Siemens is specifically committed to economic growth across Africa, and in doing so in a forward-thinking manner by implementing environmentally sustainable solutions that will help its partners and customers succeed in today’s environmentally-conscious global market.

Siemens AG is a German conglomerate company headquartered in Berlin and Munich and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe with branch offices abroad. The principal divisions of the company are Industry, Energy, Healthcare, and Infrastructure & Cities, which represent the main activities of the company.


We’ve just added two Bluetooth enabled Inverters to our range. The new-build Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter Smart models are rated at 1600VA and 2000VA and we have models for 12V, 24V and 48V systems.

  • Dynamic cut-off/intelligent restart
  • We’ve added  48V models to the range
  • Bluetooth communication – allows easy set-up and monitoring on your phone, laptop or smart device
  • Slimline design allows for discreet wall-mounting
  • Eco mode

Bluetooth …and VE.Direct

Bluetooth has been built in to the Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter Smart – allowing your power consumption to be monitored, or the settings changed, straight from your phone, tablet or laptop via our VictronConnectapp – which is free to use. Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter Smart also has a VE.Direct communication port allowing wired connection to a tablet or laptop via an optional VE.Direct to USB cable. The unit can then be set-up and programmed using VE Configure software.

Built in Bluetooth allows you to view live data on your mobile phone, laptop or smart device via our VictronConnect app – which is free to use.

Dynamic Cut-off

Your battery is protected by a user-defined low voltage alarm.

The alarm will be followed by an automatic cut-off – the value of which is Dynamic: For example, if the inverter is providing a lot of power at the time a low-voltage condition is detected, the unit will perform its disconnect at a lower battery-voltage than if it were providing only a modest amount of power. When only a modest amount of power is being drawn, cut-off will take place immediately a low-voltage condition exists. See the Manual for full details.

Intelligent re-start

A cut-off will be followed by three intelligent restart attempts. If the cut-off was triggered by a sudden but temporary drop in voltage, the load will be reconnected. A thirty-second delay ensures that the increase in voltage which has been detected is enduring.

ECO mode

In ECO mode some Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter Smart units consume just 0.6 watts – so they can be left in ‘standby’ for extended periods without worrying about the battery running down between jobs. ECO mode is intelligent, too: When the power being provided by the device falls below a certain value – it will automatically enter standby mode. As soon as it detects a load above a preset ‘snooze’ limit, the unit will remain on, to power this new demand.

LED diagnostics

Similarly to its predecessors, the Phoenix Inverter Smart is equipped with ‘traffic-light’ LED’s – the behaviour of which relate to the Inverter’s current ‘status’ – providing you with information concerning which mode the unit is in, whether any alarm conditions exist, or if an automatic trip has taken place. In depth information can be found in the manual. Bluetooth connection to your smart device provides deeper analysis.

The Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter Smart – which weighs around 12kg – can be tidily installed in an out-of-the-way location, thanks to its slim profile, and sturdy mounting plate. But if it’s tucked away – what about reaching it …to turn it on and off? No problem – a remote on/off switch is available.

 

Summary

True Sine Wave power output can be used for sensitive electronics such as computers; and it’s Peak Power capability – of around twice its ‘continuous’ rating – will supply the inrush current typically drawn by workshop tools such as drills, jig-saws, sanders and LED lamps. It can continuously power all the comforts of home – such as Microwave cookers, vacuum cleaners – even pressure washers.

Phoenix Inverter Smart continues to use ultra-reliable ‘full bridge’ configuration and toroidal transformer topology – all housed in a stainless steel case – to provide years of worry-free service.

Phoenix Inverter Smart is a protected against short-circuit, and overheating.

Inverters for every requirement

We have  Inverters, and Inverter/Chargers for every possible requirement – from compact 175W models to 144kW – configurable for 3-Phase; Multi source AC; and even for Assisting Grid-Power. In Ghana call +2332442700092  or visit our facebook page  to find the right Inverter for you.


How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market ? If you are involved in the business of constructing a new building in Ghana, whether it’s a logistics center, a manufacturing plant or a multi-family residence in East Legon, most likely installing solar panels was mentioned at some point in the process. Solar panels are being integrated into more and more new constructions, and some cities like Tema and Accra are leading the way.

Our research also indicates that there is a high demand for 2-3 bedroom houses and the cost of land and litigation has pushed the direction of real estate developments into apartment complexes rather than single detached or semi detached homes. Rooftop solar is a great investment that can generate hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars and has a return on investment of just 3-5 years. It increases the life of the roof, and the value of the property. Every owner, architect and general contractor should consider how they can integrate solar in their new construction.

This renewable energy revolution is a global one and many new home owners in Ghana are currently considering going green in their next real estate project, .with an average daily effective sunshine hours of 5.5 hours, Ghana is a great place to go solar. There is generally a hunger for renewable energy options even though many do it for  environmental and energy security reasons. Another school of thought indicates that the rising costs of diesel and the effects of pollution are gradually giving diesel generators an “uncool”  or even “savage” tag. How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market ?

But where do you start? Should you integrate solar into new construction or just wait until later?

No Muss, No Fuss

The first thing to note is that adding solar to a new building doesn’t mean you need to redesign the whole building. In fact, only minor adjustments, if any at all, will be needed. However, there are some things to consider that will make the process of switching to solar easier. By planning ahead and integrating solar during construction, you can tap into efficiencies during construction and save money.

How solar is changing Ghana's real estate market

A solar installer installing a Victron Energy multiplus compact inverter

For example, you should ensure the structural load of the roof can support a solar PV system. Most roofs can support solar without structural reinforcements, but if your current building design can’t support solar, you want to catch this early on before you begin construction.

Brighten up the Bottom Line

You can also integrate solar into your building design, saving money by making the solar installation process more efficient. A few examples of this include strategic designs that may consider ventilation, insulation and air conditioning units, and integrating the solar system’s electrical wiring and equipment into your building design. This type of planning will lower your overall cost of solar installation whilst adding an energy efficient tag to the project.

Get In and Get Out

The last thing to consider is that installing solar during construction minimizes the disruption to your operations. Once your building is operational, installing solar will have minimal impact on your day-to-day work, but it is always better to complete the installation before people are in the building. That way, you will be producing clean energy and saving money from day one. How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market?

The Future is Bright

How solar is changing Ghana's real estate market

Many real estate companies in Ghana are incorporating solar solutions or backup power solutions like this Victron Energy multiplus inverter system

Thousands of companies install solar after the building is complete, but some forward thinking can make your solar installation cheaper and more efficient. The process of transitioning to solar can be daunting. As the CEO of Royal Estates Group, Mr. Stanley Owusu shared regarding the company’s recent transition to solar panels, “I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.” They turned to a Nocheski solar to help them navigate the design process, solar installation.The result is the installation of several Victron multiplus inverters in Oasis estates projects.The evidence is clear that whether you’re a business owner or a commercial real estate developer, solar is an excellent investment opportunity. Integrating solar into a building during construction only gives an added boost to the economics.Real estate stakeholders such as architects, builders and homeowners may contact us on 0244270092 or email [email protected] for inquiries and how they may benefit from expert advice for prospective real estate projects.