In 2000-2001, California was marred by a severe energy shortage, causing rolling blackouts that shut down schools and businesses, ground traffic to a halt and sent residents scrambling for reliable food and shelter. Low-income residents-without access to financial safety nets were the hardest hit by the crisis. While policy makers debated regulations, two engineers devised a more immediate solution to eradicate the electrical poverty created by the energy crisis.
GRID Alternatives was launched to create access to free reliable solar energy in low-income communities, while also providing job-training in an industry where demand for skilled professionals is on a seemingly endless upward trajectory. Decades of success in the US-led the program to expand its reach globally. As GRID Alternatives expanded its footprint, Mexico, Nepal and Nicaragua were a natural fit for the community-based program. With its expansion into developing countries came new challenges, and a need to design systems that are still inexpensive and reliable, but can also withstand challenging climate and geography. For systems in Mexico and Nicaragua, GRID Alternatives turned to Morningstar products.
Location: Papua New Guinea
Products: TriStar TS-MPPT-60 controllers, SunSaver SS-10L, and ProStarPS-15 and PS-30 controllers
Partners include: M-NAV Solutions
Lighthouses, buoys, and beacons are crucial for assisting navigators in choosing a safe course of passage. Officially known as Marine Aids to Navigation (AtoN), these structures also are used as platforms for communication and surveillance equipment for weather and ocean monitoring. A non-operational AtoN in a key location could have catastrophic consequences. These systems are most often in remote environments that are difficult to access and exposed to severe environmental conditions. System reliability is so critical that the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), which sets standards for AtoN operation, requires an operational availability rate between 97.0%
and 99.8%. M-NAV has used Morningstar controllers in Papua New Guinea AtoN systems, like this one linked to a solar and battery system at the Jomard
Island Coastal Monitoring Station in Milne Bay Province, for more than 10 years because the products offer a high availability rate and operate reliably in extreme environments. M-NAV Solutions is also recommending Morningstar controllers in AtoN contracts in the Philippines.
- An advanced security monitoring network using infra-red technology can successfully combat wildlife-threatening poaching in Kafue National Park in Zambia, Africa
- The remote security surveillance stations in the network use PV/solar electricity for a reliable, consistent power source
- Project managers selected Morningstar components for on-site solar electricity production, based on their proven ability in long-term operation under extreme conditions
Products: SunSaver SS-20, ProStar MPPT
Partners include: SFC Energy
Generating electricity in remote locations where applications require power 24/7 is always a challenge, especially when conditions prevent solar panels from capturing available sunlight. That’s why innovative solution providers are turning to another electrical-generating technology also originally developed for extended space missions: the fuel cell. For example, SFC in Germany offers its EFOY line of fuel cells, integrating renewable energy and fuel cell technology to power remote systems for years without refueling. This hybrid system shifts from fuel cells to solar energy to keep systems operating regardless of weather or time of day. SFC choose to use Morningstar components in its systems because of their unmatched reliability, advanced technology, and competitive pricing. As these systems reach into increasingly challenging and inhospitable environments, Morningstar components will ensure continual uptime with minimum human intervention.
Application: Security and Instrumentation, Lighting, Industrial
Location: Brazil, Chile, Peru, Angola, United States
Product: TriStar MPPT 60, TriStar Meter 2, ProStar MPPT 40, SunSaver MPPT 15
System size: Mobile repeaters with deep cycle batteries from 110 Ah to 3,520 Ah (30+ sites)
Partners include: Trailers RD
Mining companies increasingly rely on solar energy to generate electricity at remote sites, which require reliable surveillance, communication, and lighting for secure, continuous operation 24/7.
Trailers RD-Minas specializes in renewable mining applications. It chose Morningstar products for more than 30 mining, construction, road, and airport sites throughout North America, South America, and Africa. These projects included mobile radio repeaters, surveillance cameras, and light towers.
Minas’ engineering and Morningstar’s technology rapidly improves one of the world’s oldest industries to ensure that Brazil and other developing countries maintain their economic momentum.
Application: Lighting, Security
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Product: TriStar MPPT 45
System size: Solar-powered streetlight kit with three modules, four 240-Ah, 12-V batteries and a 150-W LED lamp (4,300 units)
Partners: Soter, Kyocera Solar
The Arco Metropolitano is a 145-km arch of highway in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The arch skirts the booming metropolis of Rio de Janeiro city, providing a vital connection to the five major highways that crisscross the state. But hazardous weather conditions and high crime made driving on the highway at night difficult and dangerous. To keep the highway open, the government needed a reliable lighting solution to provide around-the-clock illumination on the most trafficked and dangerous stretches.
Japanese electronics firm Kyocera Solar partnered with Brazilian engineering company Soter to develop and install a street lighting system capable of producing 2.8 GWh of solar energy per year without burdening the already fragile local energy grid. The Kyocera streetlight kit depends on a lead battery system connected to a charge controller, capable of storing up to three days worth of energy. The Morningstar TriStar MPPT 45 serves as a critical component for this single-source energy solution.
Read more about the project here.
Location: Uribia, La Uribe, Aguachica and Cartagena del Charia, Colombia
Product: ProStar MPPT 40, TriStar MPPT 30 and TriStar MPPT 45
System size: Between 765 and 4,590 W of solar per site with 205 Ah in 24V to 900 Ah in 48V batteries (1,086 homes and 10 schools)
Morningstar helped power 1,086 homes and 10 schools in Columbia. The project included 133 home installations in desert or marine environments, 773 homes in the mountains and 180 homes and 10 schools in the jungle.
Solar (765W) and batteries (205 Ah in 24V) powered homes. Schools varied by type: Type 1 schools had 1,530 W with 300 Ah in 48-V batteries; Type 2 schools had 3,060 W with 600 Ah in 48-V batteries; Type 3 schools had 4,590 W with 900 Ah in 48-V batteries.
Morningstar products offered a good MPPT algorithm with a robust design and dissipation without needing cooling fans. Morningstar’s five-year warranty and excellent after-sales attention also helped make this project a success.
Application: Residential, Rural Development
Product: SureSine inverters
System size: 160W of solar for each installation
Partners include: Light for All, Kyocera Solar
Nearly 10 million people in Brazil’s rural areas live without access to electricity and approximately 90% live below the poverty line without basic amenities such as electronic devices, refrigeration and lighting. Brazil’s federal government launched the “Light for All” program in 2003 to deliver electricity to these families. The program covered equipment and installation costs to provide citizens with necessary materials and training to operate and maintain renewable energy installations in their communities.
Morningstar shipped 20,000 SureSine inverters for the program to convert the solar-generated electricity into usable AC power. The SureSine’s sealed design requires no cooling fans, eliminating the risk of failure that could shorten internal component life. The inverter is also rugged and encapsulated to withstand harsh conditions. It’s also “fault-tolerant” with built-in circuitry protection to resist damage from installer or user error.
By May 2016, 15.6 million Brazilians benefited from the program, which also created 485,000 jobs. With this success, the government extended the program to 2018 to bring another million citizens out of the dark.
Read more about the project here.