4/14/2016 | Words: Yvonne Wirth | Pictures: SMA Solar Technology AG
hybrid power plants, solar energy, diesel gensets
MTU Onsite Energy and SMA, a leading specialist for fault photovoltaic systems worldwide, are working closely with each other on the development of hybrid power plants. This concept makes it possible to combine the benefits of diesel gensets and photovoltaic power generation in a single system. For remote mining operations in particular, such hybrid systems can offer numerous benefits. This is due to the fact that mines are generally located in remote areas far from any form of area-wide power supply. In such cases, diesel gensets are frequently the most practicable solution for providing a reliable supply of electric power. They are designed to generate predictable and controllable electricity. Using diesel gensets exclusively to provide a permanent supply of electricity, however, results in high operating costs.
Solar energy is environmentally friendly and costs nothing. Unfortunately, it is not continuously available and is unpredictable. Fluctuations in the supply of energy caused by darkness, clouds and inclement weather are the result. The key prerequisite for the use of solar electricity is the availability of a stable power grid, since photovoltaic modules cannot create a power network on their own. When photovoltaic modules are combined with diesel gensets, their benefits complemented each other ideally, resulting in a stable supply of electricity, high availability, reliability, flexibility (due to the diesel engine), low operating costs and excellent environmental compatibility (photovoltaic). If energy is available from the photovoltaic system, the diesel gensets are shut down.
MTU Series 1600 and 2000 offer a particular benefit in that they can be run for up to 12 hours in low speed mode. This means that the mine operator can use the entire solar-generated energy while the engines are running without any load whatsoever. As a result, the operator incurs only minor operating costs. If the sun should disappear, the MTU gensets are ready to operate immediately. A control system developed by SMA determines how much energy is to be fed into the grid by the photovoltaic system or by the gensets.