Clean and lean: What a power plant should look like, from now on

By on December 19, 2019

Read the full article published on Energy Storage News from NEXTracker Chief Technical Officer, Alex Au here

We can’t afford to become complacent that solar PV continues to enjoy enormous success and energy storage is enjoying successive record years of deployment, if renewables can’t genuinely compete with existing power plant solutions that still form the existing framework of global energy generation and delivery.

For this first blog entry in #SmartSolarStorage2020, a series of themed content that we’ll be bringing you a lot more of during next year on Energy-Storage.news and PV Tech, NEXTracker CTO Alex Au looks at why tackling California’s now-infamous Duck Curve once and for all is a long overdue mission that needs completing – and how we can do that.

Scaling up clean energy and unleashing technology solutions

The growth in renewable energy and clean tech is a terrific story which inspires optimism, but it can overlook how much more opportunity exists in scaling up and supporting the power plant of the future. Until then, we’re leaving areas of optimisation and innovation on the table that would allow renewables to further outperform traditional power plant generation capabilities.

Too often, those involved in energy distribution think about each component in the system and not the overarching solution or the customer’s needs. The solution is getting electrons onto the grid.

You can’t standardise the solution, if you’re just thinking about components.

To use an analogy from the computer industry, the renewable energy space sometimes does the equivalent of building our own computers, choosing separate CPUs, motherboards and video cards, then constantly downloading new drivers to maintain compatibility and keep the PC running effectively.

Just as Dell and Gateway helped streamline the PC process by delivering a holistic ‘turnkey’ computer solution to consumers, renewable energy companies can lead this next evolution, rethinking the power plant design process from top to bottom. A better plant construction process, standardised inverters, and optimised supply chains that can take full advantage of software solutions.

It’s been 20 years since the grid underwent a true optimisation of its software infrastructure. We are long overdue for a fresh look at the power plant level.

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