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.


The new Cerbo GX, along with the optional GX Touch 50 display, were announced and demonstrated at METS, November 2019. GX products are Victron Energy state-of-the-art monitoring solution. The family consists of the different GX products, and their accessories.

The GX-device lies at the heart of the system – providing monitoring, and operating as the communication-centre of your installation. All the other system-components – such as inverter/chargers, solar chargers, and batteries – are connected to it. Monitoring can be carried out locally and remotely – via our free-to-use Victron Remote Management portal (VRM). The GX-device also provides Remote firmware updates and allows inverter/charger settings to be changed remotely.

Personally I’m a great fan of GX devices, the Color Control GX, Venus GX and more – all being a part of the Victron GX product range.

Detailed introductory blogpost by Panbo

However, my 6 years personal experience is with the Color Control GX model – so I’d be doing you the reader a disservice by reviewing the Cerbo GX. Also, as I blog for Victron, I admit to a natural and faithful bias. It seems only right and proper then to let an independent reviewer give you their take on this exciting new product. What I can say though – is that going by the review on Panbo, the product will be in great demand.

For a detailed introduction, I recommend reading the Panbo blog post by Ben Ellison:

Victron Cerbo GX, good AC/DC power monitoring gets better.

Introductory video

GX Touch 50 display

The GX Touch 50 is the optional display for the Cerbo GX. Its water proof, thin, and easy to mount. There is a cable coming out on the back with two plugs on it: the HDMI goes into the HDMI port on the Cerbo, and the USB (used to power the display) goes into one of the USB sockets. For all details, including dimensions and the manual, see the GX Touch 50 product page.

Optional DIN rail adapter

The optional DIN rail adapters are to easily mount the Cerbo GX on a DIN-Rail. Dimensions and details are available on its page on our website.

Conclusion

When you consider just how far GX devices have come in the last 6 years (just take a look back to 2014), then the Cerbo GX is to my mind the ultimate GX turbo charged device for connectivity.

Learn more at the Cerbo GX product page.


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.


EnGo – Smart Solar Street light pole is made by   EnGoPlanet ,the  sustainable solar lighting experts   recently launched a stylish new street light pole product which can even be retrofitted.The attachable design is of a solar cylinder module which can be quickly and easily mounted on any suitable pole for easy installation and disassembly.

Using 6 slim solar panels, with a solar cell efficiency of up to 21.2%, fixed to a hexagonal frame, ensures that half of them will face sun light at any time of the day.

The off-vertical cluster arrangement of the panels makes them less vulnerable to high-winds, less likely to accumulated dust and grime, and easier to clean.

The energy is harvested by a Victron SmartSolar MPPT 75-15. Bluetooth enabled, SmartSolar MPPTs include features which protect the battery from being too deeply drained, and have intelligent dynamic charge algorithms which work with the seasons to ensure the battery will at least periodically be returned to 100% charge.

EnGoPlanet use their own high-quality Lithium batteries, making the unit suitable for off-grid applications where night lighting is required. EnGo – Smart Solar Street light pole can also be used where a grid connection is present – in which case the units will run from their own batteries except where long-continued spells of poor weather require a power supplement to be drawn from the grid. This option is recommended for locations which are often cloudy, or shaded.

Alternatively, grid connected poles can be supplied without battery. Energy produced by the panels will be sent directly to the grid. Savings of up to 80% are possible.

EnGo – Smart Solar Street light pole  installations are also able to collect valuable environmental data which can be interrogated online. Other applications for the poles are for uses such as CCTV, sensors, wifi hotspots, and even phone charging points.

At Nocheski, we  look forward to installing  EnGo – Smart Solar Street light pole  soon

Justin Tyers


Intersolar Europe 2019 is almost upon us and will be held at Neue Messe München from May 15-17, 2019.

As ever Victron Energy will be exhibiting. Our stand this year is number B2.480, where many new and updated products will be on display. Four key new products and one new product range are:

  • EasySolar-II 48/3000/35-32 MPPT 250/70 GX
  • MultiPlus-II 48/3000/35-32 230V GX
  • MultiPlus-II 48/5000/70-50 230V
  • Inverter RS 48/6000 230V Smart Solar
  • SmartSolar MPPT VE.Can range

These new products will be launched at Intersolar, however in this preview blog we can delve into a little more detail and compare the new models above with previous models where appropriate.

EasySolar-II 48/3000/35-32 MPPT 250/70 GX

Building on the existing EasySolar (which contains a MultiPlus Inverter/Charger and BlueSolar MPPT Solar Charge controller) this new model has a number of improved features and brings other welcome changes.

The EasySolar-II 3000VA GX (when compared to the earlier EasySolar) is based upon the Multiplus-II, giving the whole unit a more compact and modern design, along with improved standby power efficiency, reduced weight and volume.

The GX suffix indicates that there is a GX device for control and monitoring built-in. A GX device is usually a standalone device such as a Color Control GX, Venus GX, Octo GX or a CANvu GX – but in this instance it is a new integrated GX device, which is already connected to the internal Multiplus-II and MPPT charge controller.

In addition there is a small two line display showing what the unit is doing, and if relevant it can also show a detailed error code  – no more counting blinking LEDs!

The EasySolar-II 3000VA GX allows connection to CAN-bus battery management systems, the VRM remote data monitoring portal via Ethernet or built-in WiFi, enables ESS functionality, and much more.

Another update is the AC and DC rated circuit breaker protection is no longer supplied. This change is based on feedback from our customers who are now able to connect the EasySolar-II GX to their own AC and DC fuses or circuit protection – in other words that which is best suited to a particular application and any regional requirements.

The integral MPPT has had the input voltage increased from 150V to 250V, giving greater flexibility when choosing solar panel configurations. In addition, because the MPPT is Victron Smart, there’s all the usual VictronConnect App functionality people have come to expect from Smart enabled products.

If paralleling and using three phase with the EasySolar-II 3000VA GX, there can only be one GX device in such a system. Indeed one GX device is enough and therefore it does not make sense to buy three of the EasySolar-II 3000VA GXs and put them in a three phase installation. Instead what you do is buy one and then buy two normal MultiPlus-IIs with the same rating.

MultiPlus-II 48/3000/35-32 230V GX

This model is the existing MultiPlus-II 3000, with the addition of built-in GX features. It has all the advantages that you’ve come to expect from GX devices. We’ll keep both products in stock after intersolar Europe 2019.

Like the EasySolar-II 3000VA GX there is a small two line display showing what the unit is doing, and if relevant it can also show a detailed error code  – no more counting blinking LEDs!

Building a split- or three-phase system, or parallel system, with the MultiPlus-II GX models can be done. But there can only be one GX device in such a system. Indeed one GX device is enough and therefore it does not make sense to buy three of the MultiPlus-II 3000VA GXs and put them in a three phase installation. Instead what you do is buy one and then buy two normal MultiPlus-IIs with the same rating.

Another option is of course to use multiple normal MultiPlus-IIs, and then choose a GX device to your liking.

Below you can see the plethora of available connection options available on the GX version. Click the image to enlarge it.

MultiPlus-II 48/5000/70-50 230V

This new MultiPlus-II is simply a larger version of the existing 3000 version. See the product page and choose the datasheet to compare the new MultiPlus-II 48/5000/70-50 to the MultiPlus-II 48/3000/35-32.

Inverter RS 48/6000 230V Smart Solar

Yet another exciting new product, Victron Smart too.

Here are some key features of the RS 6000:

  • Built-in solar charge controller with 450V max PV input. Previously the highest max PV voltage of Victron Energy products was 250V. PV specification limits are 450V, 18A in, 4000Wp
  • Victron’s first all in one inverter+solar charge controller
  • HF inverter – a first for Victron Energy
  • Excellent voltage stability
  • Handy 4 x 20 character display display

The image below shows the bottom cover removed, to reveal various connections which include 1 x VE.Direct and 2 x VE.Can connections. Click the image to enlarge it.

Note: The Inverter RS 6000 cannot be configured for parallel operation nor three phase at present.

SmartSolar MPPT VE.Can

Last in the list of new products presented today is the SmartSolar MPPT VE.Can series.

There will be a series of 150V models available, as well as 250V. More detailed news will be shared in a future blog post after Intersolar Europe 2019 .

More information, pricing and availability

More technical information will be made available in the coming days and weeks: product pages, datasheets, and other documentation is being finished and made available on our website.

For availability and pricing, email [email protected]

Conclusion

As is often the case Intersolar  Europe 2019 serves as a launchpad for many new Victron Energy products. That doesn’t mean other new products aren’t released throughout the year – it’s simply that Intersolar Europe 2019 is one of the best places to see, learn and try the latest Victron products.

Oh! – And of course there’s Victron’s infamous Intersolar Stand Party to attend…

John Rushworth

Links

Intersolar Europe Website – https://www.intersolar.de/en/home.html

Intersolar Europe Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Intersolar


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


Solar Cloth:producing power from textiles everywhere .we always need to keep our eye on emerging technologies and how they may relate to our products, both now and in the future. Solar cloth is one such technology that has certainly got me excited. You can see the solar cloth panels embedded in the mainsail of the yacht above, which is ideal as deck area for conventional modules is limited on sailing yachts.

Solar cloth is not just for boats though. Yesterday I spoke to Alain Janet from solarclothsystem.com and learned that it can also be integrated into canopies, to provide power for outdoor events for example or indeed to recharge electric vehicles. Even an awning for an RV or overland 4 x 4 could probably use such a system too.

However, Alain is a sailmaker to trade and naturally it is in that field that his first system is to be deployed, with UK Sailmakers (France). The UK Sailmakers group has over 50 lofts and service centers around the world, so to my mind they are well placed to bring this technology to market.

Below is a press release, concerning these new PowerSails.

SOLAR SAILS TO POWER TRANS-ATLANTIC RACER

Defi Martinique

Frenchman Daniel Ecalard has entered his Open 50 DEFI MARTINIQUE in the 3,500-mile Route du Rhum from St. Malo, France to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. His goal: to complete the race with zero carbon emissions. Ecalard plans to carry no diesel for generating electricity in a boat that bristles with electronics that do everything from communicating and navigating to making water and moving the boat’s canting keel.

He will use the boat as a test bed for clean energy solutions. His primary source of power will be solar panels laminated into his Titanium® mainsail to cover all the boat’s electrical needs. The sails are being made by UK Sailmakers France, which has developed the technology for solar cells that can be either laminated to new sails or affixed to existing sails. This exclusive technology is called PowerSails and is being developed by Alain Janet, owner of UK Sailmakers France.

These cutting-edge, light-weight films can generate electricity in low light and indirect sunlight. They are supple enough to handle the sail being luffed as well as folded. The panels will be put in the upper part of the main, above the third reef.

Janet says that the mainsail for DEFI MARTINIQUE is expected to produce on average 500 Watts per hour, budget allowing. Ecalard’s boat was built in 1998 for that year’s BOC race. In 2002-2003, Brad Van Liew won the 50-footer division of the 30,000-mile Alone Around Race by winning all four legs with this boat. She still holds the 24-hour distance record for a singlehanded 50-footer when she went 345 miles in a day. In 2008, she won her class in the Newport Bermuda race. In 2010 the boat starred in the Hollywood movie “Charlie St. Cloud” where Solar Cloth:producing power from textiles everywhere

Ecalard’s ultimate goal is to build a sailing freighter for working the inter-island trade in the Caribbean. For more information about this project go to: http://seafretcaraibes.fr/

Credits

Our thanks to Adam Loory of UK Sailmakers International for the interview and text above, with RDR (Route du Rhum) skipper Daniel Ecalard.

As a footnote, we also wish Alain all the best for his PowerSails project. And if there is a place for Victron to assist, then I’m sure we will as emerging markets and technologies are surely a key to business growth for all. So, if on your Victron travels you too come across something new, that is noteworthy of a post here on the Victron blog, do let us know.

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


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.


Lead acid battery charging in cold weather

This blog covers lead acid battery charging at low temperatures. A later blog will deal with lithium batteries.

Charging lead acid batteries in cold (and indeed hot) weather needs special consideration, primarily due to the fact a higher charge voltage is required at low temperatures and a lower voltage at high temperatures.

Charging therefore needs to be ‘temperature compensated’ to improve battery care and this is required when the temperature of the battery is expected to be less than 10°C / 50°F or more than 30°C / 85°F. The centre point for temperature compensation is 25°C / 77°F.

Cold weather also reduces a battery’s capacity. This is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration, along with the load and charge rate compared to the battery capacity (Ah). Both of these factors affect the correct and consequent sizing of a battery for your particular application.

Battery capacity in Ah is usually quoted as a 20 hour capacity rating at 25°C. The discharge rate or load can be written as 0.05C where for example C is the load factor of the 20 hour rated battery capacity at 25°C.

Worked examples: If a 100Ah 20hr rated battery then a 0.05 load would be 100 x 0.05 = 5 Amps or 100/20 which is also a 5 Amp discharge rate over that 20 hour period. A 10A load on a 100Ah 20 hour rated battery would therefore be a 0.1C discharge rate, a 0.2C discharge rate on a 200Ah would be 40A and so on. C ratings also relate to charge rates as well as discharge rates.

When buying a battery you may see its Ah quoted at 20 (the standard rate), 10 and 5 hour rates so you can see how load ‘shrinks’ the Ah. Some even quote at 25 hour rates, which often fools people into thinking they are getting a bigger battery than standard.

To recap – capacity reduces at low temperatures, as it does for higher discharge C rates above the 0.05C 20 hour rate. This reduction in capacity due to higher discharge rates is due to Peukert’s Law.

Graph showing the effect on battery capacity due to temperature and load:

Lead acid battery differences

Lead acid batteries come in a variety of types:
  • Wet lead with the ability to top up each of the six cells with de-mineralised water.
  • The so called ‘sealed’ wet lead leisure or rather maintenance free battery. These cannot be topped up and often have a green go or red no go cell inspection indicator.
  • AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA), where the electrolyte is absorbed in a glass mat.
  • Similar to the AGM, but the electrolyte is held in a Gel.

All of the above are however lead based (as opposed to lithium) technology. Besides lithium batteries Victron Energy sell VRLA AGM and Gel monoblocs (6 x 2V cells in series) due to their superiority over wet lead monobloc types. Victron’s range consists of:

  • Gel (Better cycle life than AGM).
  • AGM (Better than Gel for higher loads and well suited for use with inverters).
  • AGM Telecom. Designed primarily for Telecom applications, but also excellent ‘footprint space savers’ for marine and vehicle applications.
  • AGM Super Cycle (Best if frequent discharge to 60-80% DOD is expected).
  • Lead Carbon Battery (Improved partial state-of-charge performance, more cycles, and higher efficiency).

Additionally Victron also sell specialist lead acid type batteries.

  • OPzV 2V individual battery cells. Long life, high capacity gel.
  • OPzS 2V individual battery cells. Long life high capacity flooded tubular plate batteries for specialist solar applications.

Temperature compensation and charging

Now we know about the kind of batteries, capacities and loads we are dealing with, we need to put some numbers together for temperature compensation and charging.

The recommended temperature compensation for Victron VRLA batteries is – 4 mV / Cell (-24 mV /°C for a 12V battery).

Besides accounting for cold weather charging the charge current should preferably not exceed 0.2C (20A for a 100Ah battery) as the temperature of the battery would tend to increase by more than 10°C if the charge current exceeded 0.2C. Therefore temperature compensation is also required if the charge current exceeds 0.2C.

How to achieve temperature and voltage compensated charging

There are a range of Victron products to achieve this.

With our range of inverter/chargers and since VE.Bus firmware version 415 was released some time back this has ensured that:

– Temp compensation continues down to -20C

– This is for all voltage set-points, except for float, storage and the start of bulk charging

– As soon as the temperature goes below -30C, the compensation mechanism is disabled (normal charge voltages are applied) and a warning is shown.

For systems that don’t use an inverter/charger – we can use Smart Battery Sense to ensure that charging sources provide optimal voltage and temperature compensated charging to your batteries, by wirelessly transmitting accurate battery voltage and temperature values to your Solar Charge Controller or Smart battery charger.

This information is then used to set the ideal charging parameters, resulting in more complete, faster charging – improving battery health and therefore extending battery life.

The Victron Toolkit app allows you to calculate cable sizes and voltage drop. Here’s an example where cable length is the round trip of the positive and negative battery charging cables. This is so you get an idea of what Smart Battery Sense automatically takes into account to ensure the correct charge voltage goes into the battery, by ensuring the charge voltage is compensated for and corrected due to any cable losses.

Victron’s range of SmartSolar MPPT Charge Controllers all work with the Smart Battery Sense. In fact I’ve just fitted one to my motorhome, along with the required Smart Battery Sense, due to the fact the leisure battery temperature location when compared to the location of the controller can have a difference of up to ten degrees. Definitely a case for ensuring accurate temperature compensation.

Other products can be connected too by using what we call ‘VE.Smart Networking support’. See the VE.Smart Networking page.

Conclusion

With the above solutions I know I’ll be happier now that my batteries are getting exactly the right charge due to optimal temperature and voltage compensation.

Why not make sure you are doing the same…

John Rushworth