Intelligent hybrid inverters are usually used in solar power applications using renewable energy for home consumption, especially for solar photovoltaic installations. Electricity from solar panels is generated only during the day, with peak generation around midday. Generation fluctuates and may not be synchronized with a load's electricity consumption. To overcome this gap between what is produced and what is consumed during the evening, when there is no solar electricity production, it is necessary to store energy for later use and manage energy storage and consumption with an intelligent hybrid (smart grid) inverter.
Some see this as a new technology, however in some parts of the world the application of such products has been around since the 1990s. With the development of systems that include renewable energy sources and variable electricity prices, private companies and research laboratories have developed smart inverters for synchronizing energy production and consumption.
Hybrid inverters can be used for either off-grid or on-grid applications. For on-grid applications the inverter can select between battery, solar or grid power dynamically for running the local loads, and must make decisions about when to charge the battery.
The function of a (smart-grid) is enabling selection and orientation of renewable energy, energy from the grid and energy storage based on consumption. Unlike conventional inverters, rather than systematically storing energy in batteries (with significant loss of yield >20%), hybrid inverters store energy only when necessary, e.g. when there is more production than consumption. This system also allows choosing whether electricity from photovoltaic panels should be stored or consumed through an internal intelligent apparatus control unit. This is possible through a technique that adds different energy sources (phase coupling: on-grid or grid-tie techniques) and the management of stored electricity in the battery (off grid technology). Hybrid inverters therefore operate on grid (grid-tie) as well as off-grid, hybrid (both on-grid and off-grid at the same time) and Backup (in case of a black out). According to the E.R.D.F. (French Electric Network) smart inverters are the future of photovoltaic solar panel installations dedicated to energy self-use, or auto-consumption of energy.
Hybrid Inverters come in varying styles, ratings, functionalities and build qualities to suit different applications. Knowing the application is vital when selecting a Hybrid or Inverter. The technology is being developed from two directions:
- Battery based οff-grid inverters being further developed for on-grid connection (sometimes also referred to as multi-mode inverters)
- Grid tie inverters being further Developed for diverting energy to and from batteries
- Use in off-grid mode (without network) with the possibility of linking to a generator. The inverter must be connected to a battery bank and must have true off-grid capabilities - not all Hybrid inverters are created equal or can be used in off-grid applications.
- Use in on-grid or grid-tie (connected to the network) with the possibility of selling energy or excess energy. There is a need to have the norm compliance of protection and decoupling (DIN VDE 0126.1).
- Use in hybrid mode the inverter functions with a battery bank, but also connected to the grid. This dual functionality is the highlight of hybrid inverters that hence enable energy management (smart grid).
- Use in Backup mode, or storage mode prevents blackouts by switching from on-grid mode to off-grid mode at the moment of a grid outage, thereby eliminates network cuts.
The IMEON hybrid inverter, manufactured by IMEON in France is an example of solar hybrid inverter with Artificial intelligence. The Pika Energy Island, manufactured by Pika Energy is an example of a commercially available intelligent hybrid inverter system. HBD Series Hybrid Inverter, manufactured by Statcon Energiaa is an example of a commercially available Solar Hybrid Inverter with active front end interface
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