Updated: ABB Pulls out of Greenvolts Solar Technology

Sept. 17, 2012
Update: Originally, ABB Inc. was to announce its Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) system, a solar plant-to-smart grid integrated solution that offers new distributed plant management and control capabilities. This product centered around Greenvolts solar tracking technology. However, ABB pulled out of its investment in Greenvolts late last week.

Updated 9 AM, Sept 17: 
Late Friday, Sept 14, ABB responded to the original article by Katie Fehrenbacher's about ABB pulling its sizable investment out of Calif-based Greenvolts, a company that offers a high-precision two-axis, intelligent tracking system that accurately tracks the sun throughout the day. ABB announced this financial partnership with Greenvolts back in December 2011. 

As I mentioned below on Sept 13, ABB sees natural gas and wind power as ample competiors to the energy supply pie and have decided to pull back on their investment in solar technology at this time. Click here to read Andrew Tang, ABB’s Managing Director of its venture arm, ABB Technology Ventures, response via Gigaom.

Update 10 AM, Sept 13: 

As reported in Katie Fehrenbacher's Gigaom article,  GreenVolts CEO, David Gudmundson confirmed to her that the company has lost investment support from ABB, Inc. As of last week, ABB planned to unveil its CPV system at the Solar Power International Conference with GreenVolts technology being the main driver behind the CPV system. With natural gas increasing and wind power taking a bigger bite of the U.S. energy pie, solar manufacturers are facing a rough patch for its technology.

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At a recent energy management conference in August, keynoter Jeff Kegley of Tridium proclaimed, "the Smart Grid is not living up to its promise" and more sophisticated communication needs to be part of the equation. ABB Inc. (www.abb.com) heeds that call and will introduce its fully integrated solar power generation plant controller and smart grid interface as part of its Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) system at the Solar Power International conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, September 11-13.

The new technology behind the CPV system is a result of an investment and strategic partnership with GreenVolts  Inc. (www.greenvolts.com), Fremont, Calif. Announced in December 2011, this partnership provides ABB access to GreenVolts' propretary technology and turnkey solutions for photovoltaic power plants. GreenVolt's tecnology offers a high-precision two-axis, intelligent tracking system that accurately tracks the sun throughout the day, integrated bi-polar transformerless inverters and the Intelligent Solar Information System (ISIS) energy managment software. 

Interconnecting variable generation sources, such as solar and wind, is a major challenge for utilities. Today’s solar plants do not provide the information and control needed by smart grids, as the solar industry consists of component-based suppliers without the systems approach necessary for integration to a smart grid infrastructure, says ABB. 

From an automation point of view, operators will have visibility down to the component level of the plant to optimize performance and operation and maintenance costs. This includes monitoring of Universal Power Supplies (UPSs), low- and medium- voltage switchgear, security equipment and transformer signals, and the ability to make operating adjustments. The controller also interacts with the energy meter, transformer, and weather station. Also, real-time and historic performance data are available for every module, tracker, and motor.

“Our CPV system advances the state of the art in the solar industry for smart grid. It provides all of the communication and control needed for today’s most advanced smart grid capabilities,” said Bob Stojanovic, ABB director of Solar Power Solutions, North America. “In addition, because it is fully integrated, it provides capabilities not currently available for any other solar plant, providing the next level of intelligence for the grid.”

Upcoming Event - Solar Power Event
Learn more about distributed power generation plant control and smart grid from ABB in booth 4100, Hall C at the Solar Power International event

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