The growing importance of design tools in energy management


The evolution of the photovoltaic industry has imposed many new requirements in terms of the development and performance of photovoltaic tools and equipment, in particular the inverter.

Some of these requirements come from the introduction of new standards, such as compliance with security regulations or network requirements. While at other times it has been influenced by innovation and consumer demand, for example by propelling the transformation of the inverter into an intelligent energy manager that controls the photovoltaic production, the storage of the solar energy. battery and other smart energy devices.

However, these new requirements are not limited to PV hardware and extend to other services, such as supporting tools and software. While this may be a natural progression for most industries, for the PV industry it is especially important to support the rapid pace of PV market growth.

These tools enable installers to become more efficient in their sales, planning and design processes and are also essential for maintaining competitiveness, allowing the industry to grow as a whole. A particularly crucial tool in this process is the design software, as it impacts sales, orders, and installation.

Right from the initial sales meeting or the proposal process, PV design software can be an incredibly powerful tool, which can even help close a sale. If developed and used correctly, PV design software can act as a foot in the door and help visualize an installation for system owners. Installers and sales teams can come to their customer appointments with the benefit of knowing before they go and already have a compelling customer proposition in hand, without requiring a lot of investment.

However, PV design software can be more than a sales tool. This can help streamline the entire planning and design process, which can be expensive and resource intensive. This is especially true because several factors, such as climate of regulatory / grid / accessibility / load requirements, consumption requirements, module layout, shading, efficiency and proper sizing, must be considered for ensure optimum system performance. With automation features, such as automatic string layout for commercial PV systems, duplicate wired module blocks, PV system design can become a much more efficient process and reduce ancillary costs, which can be a huge benefit. important driver for the adoption of solar energy and provide a competitive business edge.

No less important is the ability of these design tools to help reduce erroneous design decisions, which can be very costly. Providing other benefits, the design tools also incorporate simulations such as shading analysis, irradiance analysis and system availability, in order to provide a more comprehensive PV proposition. Combine these features with additional features, such as BoM reports, ERP next steps and fleet management, and these design tools become an end-to-end management solution for PV installers. Integrating all the different design steps into a single tool, rather than using multiple software platforms for modeling, efficiency calculations, control, and installation, streamlines these processes and dramatically reduces cost. complexity. In addition, these tools are migrating to be web-based and free to offer extended support.

As these photovoltaic design tools continue to evolve, they will not only offer full design capability, but they will also plan energy management systems for homes and buildings. As inverters manage more and more energy resources, such as batteries, electric vehicles, water heaters and other smart devices, in addition to the interaction with the grid and other market requirements, the tools photovoltaic design tools become complete design tools for complete energy management systems. Energy design tools are likely to become increasingly important as these energy systems become more integrated and inclusive, and begin to function as smart energy ecosystems.

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