The growing importance of design tools in energy management

By Lior Handelsman, VP of marketing and product strategy and founder at SolarEdge
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

The evolution of the PV industry has placed many new demands on the development and performance of PV tools and equipment, especially the inverter.

Some of these demands come from the introduction of new standards, such as meeting safety regulations or grid requirements. While at other times, it has been influenced by innovation and consumer demand, such as propelling the transformation of the inverter into a smart energy manager that controls PV generation, battery storage, and other smart energy devices.

These new demands, however, are not only limited to PV hardware, and extend to other services, such as support tools and software. While this may be a natural progression for most industries, for the PV industry, it is especially important to support the fast pace of PV market growth.

These tools allow installers to become more efficient in their sales, planning, and design processes and are also critical for maintaining competitiveness, enabling the industry to grow as a whole. One tool that is particularly crucial in this process is design software, as it has impact on the sales, ordering, and installation.

From the initial sales meeting or proposal process, PV design software can serve as an incredibly powerful tool – one that may even help close a sale. If developed and used correctly, PV design software can act as a foot in the door and help to visualise an installation for system owners. Installers and sales teams can show up to their customer meetings with a know-before-you-go edge and already have a compelling customer proposal in hand, without requiring a lot of investment.

However, PV design software can act as more than a sales tool. It can help streamline the entire planning and design process, which can be expensive and resource-intensive. This is particularly true as multiple factors, such as, regulatory/grid/accessibility/load requirements climate, consumption needs, modules layout, shading, efficiency and proper sizing, need to be factored in to ensure optimal system performance. With automation features, such as automatic string layout for commercial PV systems, duplicated wired blocks of modules, PV system design can become a much more efficient process and reduce soft costs, which can be an important driver for solar power adoption and provide a competitive business edge.

No less important is the ability for these design tools to help reduce faulty design decisions, which can be very expensive. Providing further benefits, design tools also integrate simulations such as shading analysis, irradiance analysis, and system availability, in order to provide a more holistic PV proposal. Couple these features with additional functionality, such as BoM reports, ERP next steps, and fleet management, and these design tools are becoming an end-to-end management solution for PV installers. Integrating all of the different design stages into one tool instead of using multiple software platforms for modeling, yield calculations, ordering, and installation, helps to streamline these processes and significantly reduce complexity. In addition, these tools are migrating to be web-based and free to offer widespread support.

As these PV design tools continue to evolve, they will not only offer full design capability but also plan energy management systems for homes and buildings. As inverters are managing more and more energy resources, such as batteries, EVs, hot water heaters, and other smart devices, in addition to grid interaction and other market requirements, PV design tools are becoming comprehensive design tools for complete energy management systems. Energy design tools are likely to become increasingly important as these energy systems become more integrated and inclusive, and begin functioning as smart energy ecosystems.

6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.

Read Next

June 11, 2021
Construction of a 10MW solar farm as part of the UK’s first hybrid solar PV, energy storage and wind site has officially begun.
May 27, 2021
US trade body the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has started a new advocacy programme for the fast-growing energy storage sector.
April 12, 2021
British energy company ScottishPower is targeting up to 40MW of solar as part of its Green Hydrogen for Scotland project.
PV Tech Premium
March 17, 2021
Vietnam experienced enormous growth in solar deployments in 2020, with as much as 9GW being installed as the successful FIT policy drew to a close. Edgar Gunther explores how that policy came to be so successful, and what the future holds for solar PV in Vietnam.
PV Tech Premium
February 18, 2021
Solar assets in Texas have continued to generate despite the weather, but policy remains a hurdle to them aiding the grid
February 8, 2021
An Indiana-based subsidiary of power distribution company AES Corporation has announced it will buy a 195MW solar power project in the state in as part of its energy transition program.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
August 24, 2021
Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
October 6, 2021