As winter approaches, the days become shorter and colder. This puts stress on off-grid photovoltaic systems. Most facilities need a consistent supply of power, which leaves a power deficit in the winter season when solar production is low. This is exacerbated by the low temperature effects on battery efficiency. Furthermore, many of these systems are undersized to reduce capital outlay, resulting in shortened battery life and power outages in the winter season. The figure below demonstrates the limitations of off-grid solar power systems operating in Northern locations.
Designed for rugged and remote operation, the PowerGen remote power generator provides reliable electrical power supply to the most demanding and mission-critical loads. Based on Qnergy’s no-maintenance and highly reliable PCK series Stirling engines, the generator package can work seamlessly with a variety of fuel supplies, including natural gas, propane, biogas, and multiple associated gas streams.
PowerGen Stirling Advantage:
- Maintenance free 80,000h engine life (no oil changes, no field rebuilds)
- Efficient, low-emission combustion (100x lower than EPA CO and NOx limits)
- Wide operating temperature range (-40˚C to 40˚C)
- 5.65kW load-following engine (no load banks or wet-stacking issues)
Cold Weather Performance
Under normal conditions the PV array supplies power through the system’s battery bank. The PowerGen engine sits in standby, monitoring the battery health. In extended durations of poor solar availability, the PowerGen intelligent control system will start the engine and charge the batteries. In cold northern climates, the waste heat of the PowerGen system is harvested to maximize system performance.
Benefits of the PowerGen Solar Hybrid:
- Hybrid design blends the advantages of solar energy with those of Stirling power
- 24/7, year-round off-grid power
- Smaller PV panel footprint
- Smaller battery bank with longer life (no deep cycling)
- Reduced engine fuel consumption
- Decreased operating costs (less maintenance and downtime)
Pacific Northwest Case Study
A pipeline operator was tasked with installing a cathodic protection station in a remote area. Although high voltage utility lines were available nearby, the cost to extend and transform the power for this small station was prohibitive. Due to the challenging weather conditions in this region an off-grid solar system itself would be costly due to the size of the PV array and large battery bank needed to provide reliable power in the cold, dark winter months.
Pairing a more reasonably sized off-grid solar system with the PowerGen 5650 increased the reliability and value of the system. The graph below depicts the PowerGen’s ability to deliver consistent power during the challenging winter months. The generator also eliminates deep discharge cycles on the battery, extending the operating life. Using fewer batteries that last longer not only saves capital but reduces the environmental waste associated with disposal. With the intelligent control system, the engine only runs when required, optimizing fuel consumption. This system adapts to changing weather conditions ensuring efficient power production, while the maintenance-free engine drives operational savings.
Qnergy is the world’s leading clean technology manufacturer of Stirling energy systems. Qnergy provides reliable power generators for the 500W-10,000W range to help customers improve efficiency, decrease cost, and reduce emissions. Qnergy’s Stirling generators are often called ‘external combustion’ engines since they can use conventional as well as non-conventional heat sources to generate electricity. Examples range from wellhead gas and propane to biogas and hydrogen.
Qnergy’s proprietary engines are enclosed systems that requires no lubrication, maintenance, or repair, delivering tens of thousands of hours of uninterrupted operation. The combination of truly flexible fuel with unparalleled reliability makes Qnergy a critical component in the energy transition to a decarbonized economy.
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