Alternative Energy Power Management

A look at how CE+T America, a supplier of industrial backup power systems, used Wago PLCs, power supplies, and Ethernet switches to create a new photovoltaic and energy storage power converter.

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The world continues to move forward in its search for quality energy alternatives. As these sources of energy advance, companies are looking to gain a foothold in renewable energy generation, storage, and microgrid management. They seek advancement in technology that will not only provide for their specific needs, but also maintain a balance of cost effectiveness and competitiveness in the industry. 

As a leader in global distribution of power products, CE+T America designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of backup power systems for commercial and industrial customers with specific design requirements. They manufacture smart power converters used in data centers, backup power applications, renewable energy integration (photovoltaic and energy storage), microgrid, and electric vehicle charging infrastructures. CE+T America also offers monitoring and control solutions for all of its power converters. Headquartered in Belgium and established in 1936, they started operations in the United States some time ago, but only recently opened the CE+T Power facility in Austin, Texas, in 2019.

3-phase power management system
In early 2020, CE+T America was developing its Maestro Power Management System (PMS). This PMS would manage their Stabiliti power converters that paired with photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage, delivering considerable energy cost savings. The 3-phase system would target high-energy users where solar cannot, by itself, provide the necessary power due to peak demand, time-of-day or seasonal energy costs. CE+T America wanted to make sure all power flows were controlled in real time, prioritizing PV over battery use when possible, combining PV and battery when necessary to offset energy costs, as well as charging batteries from PV or grid to further optimize savings. CE+T’s Maestro PMS microgrids (off-grid systems) would also utilize this PV-first algorithm, minimizing battery use while the sun is shining and making load support the priority while also extending the life of the batteries. 

To make this happen, CE+T America needed PLCs, main and uninterruptible power supplies, and Ethernet switches. “First, we were looking for an affordable, feature-rich programmable logic controller (PLC) to be used in control applications like the one required for this power management system,” said Govind Mittal, director of grid edge software for CE+T America. Overseeing development and being the product owner for the power management system, Mittal also wanted to make sure the products he would be using would come with high-end technical support in case he needed help troubleshooting any issues within the PMS. 

After a lengthy online search, Mittal came across a few businesses that caught his eye. One of those was Wago, a Germany-based industrial automation company with its North American headquarters located in Wisconsin. Mittal placed a call to Jeff Wittorf, Wago’s regional sales manager, to find out what offerings Wago could provide. 

“Govind told me about his immediate needs. That same day I provided some feature options and had product samples sent to CE+T the following week,” Wittorf said. 

Development support
Competing to provide CE+T America with the best that Wago could offer, Wittorf enlisted the help of colleagues such as Chris Dunlap, Wago’s North American energy industry manager. 

Dunlap was able to provide expert energy industry advice while comparing Wago’s value versus the competition. Kurt Braun, applications engineer and IIoT market specialist for Wago, provided technical resources, giving CE+T America visualization features as well as excellent examples with Modbus libraries to meet their requirements. He was also a great resource for any questions regarding Maestro’s application design to fit within the Wago system. Finally, David Bae, Wago applications engineer, provided a continuation of knowledgeable support—particularly when it came to utilizing Modbus communication through Wago’s e!Cockpit software, firmware updates, and web visualization. Wago also provided CT+E a PLC with a Linux operating system, allowing the company to program the PLC using IEC 61131-3 languages while also allowing for open-source coding within Docker containers.

“Pricing and feature set was the main driver, but what really made the difference was the exceptional sales and technical support,” Mittal said. “Without this, I would have gone a different direction.” 

Wittorf agrees with Mittal’s assessment of Wago’s support. “Our difference maker is our people,” he said. “Our sales and industry management teams genuinely care about helping our customers.”

Turnaround was very quick and the Maestro Power Management System was finished and ready for use in June 2020. Today, Wago continues to support CE+T America customer inquiries regarding the system and is looking into deploying the program remotely, connecting it to Wago controllers. Wittorf says that he stays in constant contact with CE+T America to ensure its needs are being met both for today and tomorrow. 

Mittal is excited for future endeavors, saying, “The Maestro is in action today and we are expecting many deployments to customers later this year. We are using and will continue to utilize Wago products in our power management systems.”

For more information regarding CE+T America, please visit www.cet-power.com/en. To find out more about Wago, go to www.wago.us.

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