Solar Array Interoperability Demo

Nov. 16, 2012
The SunSpec Alliance, a global trade association established to create open information standards for solar photovoltaic (PV) components and the information technology (IT) systems they interact with, held its second SunSpec Plug Fest and Application Showcase in Orange County, Calif. in November. At the event, SunSpec Alliance members used a recently launched PV array at Moxa USA Inc. headquarters to test and demonstrate aspects of interoperability using SunSpec-compliant hardware, such as live monitoring of power output by different applications and vendors.

SunSpec standards for the renewable energy industry address most major subsystems and operational aspects of PV power plants on the smart grid—including residential, commercial, and utility-scale systems. Moxa is one of 60 member of the alliance, which also includes Digi, Carlo Gavazzi, Phoenix Contact and Siemens.

Moxa’s 35,000 sq. ft. solar power system, created in partnership with So-Cal Solar, is located at its USA headquarters in Brea, Calif. The system includes both a rooftop and parking lot array that produces over 311 kW DC using 1,133 Suntech PV panels and a PowerOne central inverter. The system is one of the largest solar developments in Orange County and is expected to reduce green house gas emissions by 9,309 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years.

The event included a live, on-stage demo of real-time, multi-vendor monitoring of operational solar PV power plants. The overall system also incorporates a range of Moxa’s own industrial switches, surveillance cameras, computers and I/O modules. It also allow live monitoring of energy related statistics through a browser application.

“Moxa is in a unique position to support the SunSpec Alliance mission as both an Alliance member and the owner of a working solar PV array,” said Eddie Lee, director of Marketing at Moxa Americas. “We have experienced firsthand how challenging it is to work with specialized technology with no clear industry standard. As one of the founding sponsors and members of the SunSpec Alliance, we are happy to contribute to the effort to drive greater standardization and interoperability between solar PV providers.”

Tom Tansy, chairman of the SunSpec Alliance said that “thanks to Moxa’s team and the unprecedented level of access that they have granted, we are developing their solar array to be one of the core sites for SunSpec interoperability testing and demonstration going forward.”

“It is very important to Moxa that we are environmentally mindful as a company, through green product design, conservation of natural resources and compliance with ISO 14001 standards,” said Ben Chen, president of Moxa Americas.

Chen noted that in addition to the solar power system, Moxa has implemented other resource conservation efforts such as low-flow aerators, rain sensors for irrigation, and motion sensors for lighting. A dedicated team within Moxa has been assembled to research other means of conserving resources, such as retrofitting parking lights to LED, an electronic HVAC system and a building energy management system (EMS).

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