How to Design a Solar-Diesel-Hybrid-System Easily by Yourself

From on January 6, 2017 in Category Hybrid Energy System, Technology with 16 Comments
Solar hybrid system planning with Sunny Design

Designing a solar-diesel-hybrid-system is quite complex. There are many values that have to be taken into account such as meteorological data, electrical parameters, sizing of the components, profitability and many more. Sunny Design is a free tool that makes designing a solar-diesel hybrid system super easy. This article is a guide on how to design a hybrid system with Sunny Design to easily create offers for your customers, project documentation or suggestions for improvement for your existing diesel grid.

 

About this article

This article is meant to be a guide on planning a hybrid system with Sunny Design. If you like, you can open Sunny Design in a second browser window and try all the steps yourself. Enjoy planning your own solar-diesel hybrid system 🙂

 

Login

Sunny Design login screen

Sunny Design login screen

First of all, the advanced features of Sunny Design, such as designing hybrid systems, are only available to registered users. So you have to register and lo gin to start planning your first hybrid system. It is free of charge.

A Sunny Design registration provides you with additional advantages, including an online place to store your projects, so that you can design multiple projects, subsequently change them or duplicate popular designs for new projects. You are also able to personalize the design outcomes to make offering solar hybrid systems to your customers even easier.

 

Welcome screen

Sunny Design welcome screen

Sunny Design welcome screen

The welcome screen allows you to manage your projects. You can add new projects, handle your projects and templates, and adjust the very basic settings. You can store your own locations, load profiles and price lists for use in all of your projects.

To get started quickly, I would suggest you skip these advanced functions for the moment and just start creating your first new hybrid project 🙂 You can easily dive deeper into all the options of configuring Sunny Design later on.

 

Project type

Sunny Design project type selection

Sunny Design project type selection

Sunny Design supports different solar project types such as rooftop solar systems, large-scale solar plants, systems with self-consumption, island systems and solarhybrid systems. You can use Sunny Design to design the layout for all of these systems. This article focuses on hybrid systems, so please choose PV (photovoltaic) hybrid system as your projects type.

 

Basic settings

Configuration of basic hybrid system parameters

Configuration of basic hybrid system parameters

On this page, you are able to set many basic parameters for the project. You can define a project name to easily identify your project from other projects you have created as well as the location of the project.

Now you have to choose for which voltage level you want to design your hybrid system. This already narrows down the choice of solar inverters for your project. If you choose “low voltage” (less than 280 V per phase) here, only low-voltage inverters can be used in your project. If you choose “medium voltage” you are able to use either a multitude of decentralized small inverters (this is useful as maintenance only affects small parts of the system or in case where the solar field is scattered with physical distance between the field segments, but is a little bit more expensive) or centralized large inverters up to 2.5 MW (better efficiency, slightly lower costs).

The “Advanced project data” section contains many more options for fine-tuning. The location, basics for profitability calculation, temperature settings, electrical inverter connection and line losses can be adjusted to get a better profitability estimate at the end.

Project details can be given, which are used to personalize the printable report that can be downloaded when the project design is complete.

 

Meteorological data

Meteorological data is already available in Sunny Design

Meteorological data is already available in Sunny Design

For a realistic profitability analysis, it is very important to set the correct location. You may choose a place that is near to where your hybrid system is to be built. The locations provided by Sunny Design are linked to meteorological data like irradiation and temperatures so that the solar energy generation can be estimated accurately.

You can proceed to the next page by clicking “Define load profile”.

 

Load profile

Define or select a load profile

Define or select a load profile

Here you can define the load characteristics you expect your hybrid grid to have. For ease of use, there are some load profiles provided that you can simply apply. Or, if you have already loaded data from the grid of your project, you can simply import this data. You can find information on how the data for Sunny Design imports should look here.

You can set the annual consumption here. The load profiles are scaled so that the resulting load profile fits the annual consumption you have set.

The three graphs below the load configuration show the load powers resulting from profile and scaling.

 

Create your own load profile

Create your own load profile

Create your own load profile

You can also create your own load profile easily.

So that you can reuse it in other projects, you can give your load profile a name and a description. The annual energy consumption is the energy amount that the profile is scaled to fit. Now you can define season durations for summer and winter. Spring and fall are added accordingly.

Now you can add daily profiles and go into as much detail as you like. In the picture on the right, there is just one profile for weekdays and another for weekends. But you can easily add more and create profiles for individual weekdays and seasons.

 

Genset configuration

Configuration of gensets

Configuration of gensets

On this page, you can configure the gensets that are available, as well as the operation conditions they can be driven in. Some values affect profitability significantly.

A minimum genset load can be defined for each genset. This is the minimum power at which a genset can be continuously driven. This especially affects how much solar power/energy can be integrated into the grid at peak times. When the genset reaches this minimum genset load limit, the solar power is curtailed.

The load-related minimum power defines when another genset is started in the Sunny Design simulation. The preset value is 110% – this means that if the load rises and the nominal power of the currently running genset(s) can provide less than 110% of the current load, another genset is started.

The “Minimum PV power to be expected” value determines how large a drop in solar production can be attributed to clouds. The preset value of 20% is based on experiences in different systems and should stay untouched.

Let’s continue with the configuration of the solar-diesel hybrid system on the next page.

 

PV share proposal

Proposal of PV share based on economic aspects

Proposal of PV share based on economic aspects

Sunny Design now performs a quick profitability analysis and shows which nominal solar power provides a financial advantage. Depending on load and gensets, the PV system has to be curtailed the more nominal solar power is installed. The green field indicates where the financial advantage rises with more solar power, whereas the red field shows where the financial advantage does not rise significantly with more nominal power due to curtailment.

This page mentions a technical maximum of 60% solar power of the apparent power of the gensets. This is only true as long as no storage system is involved. We have different systems running at a PV share of as much as 90% with batteries, but storage solutions are not yet included in Sunny Design.

 

Solar inverter configuration

Selection of solar inverters

Selection of solar inverters

Now it is time to configure the PV system. The PV share proposal already provides a number of solar modules is already provided. You are free to choose specific manufacturers (Sunny Design has a large module database) or to split the solar field into smaller parts.

Next you can configure the solar inverters. There are many different inverter models and depending on your design, there could be a large range from 1 to more than 100 inverters needed to realize your design. To make this as easy as possible, there is a button “Design suggestions”-button that gives a recommendation on which inverters to use – default is sorted by profitability. Just select a suggestion you like and click on “Adopt design”. That’s it!

Now you can see how the inverters you selected will perform in your hybrid system.

 

Optimizing transfer losses by adapting wire size

Optimizing transfer losses by adapting wire size

Wire sizing

You can optimize your design further by selecting appropriate wiring for your hybrid system. Sunny Design calculates the losses for energy transportation on cables with the selected cross sections. If you have selected this during project configuration, this will also be taken into account in the profitability analysis. So choosing another cable cross-section or material can sometimes compensate for the higher costs.

Wiring can be configured for the DC side as well as the AC side with or without sub-distribution.

 

Profitability analysis

Profitability analysis

Profitability analysis

Now all the information is compiled and we can see what we can expect from the solar-diesel-hybrid system in terms of economic advantage compared with the previous genset-only grid.

Topmost, there are the pure numbers. What are the investment costs and how long does amortization take? And which financial advantages does the hybrid system provide? You will find answers to this in the “Profitability” section.

In the “cash flow” section the graph in the middle is particularly interesting as it shows the break-even point at which the hybrid system outperforms the conventional genset system and starts saving real money.

The graphs below show the sensitivity of the fuel price assumptions on the amortization period. The more expensive the fuel gets, the smaller the amortization period will be.

 

Overview of the planned hybrid project

Overview of the planned hybrid project

Results overview

On this page, Sunny Design reshows all the settings made during the design process, which are displayed as a one-page overview. Here you can check your settings again to ensure they are valid.

Proceeding to “Project documentation” will provide you with a pdf download that contains the project setup and the profitability analysis. You can use this to make a suggestion to your grid utility on how to improve your grid or as project documentation for your own customers.

Here you can download an example of the demo project used in this article.

 

Conclusion

I hope this article demonstrates how easy it is to design a solar-diesel-hybrid-system with Sunny Design. If you have any more questions, feel free to send a comment or share your experiences with Sunny Design for Hybrid Systems here. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

More information

You can find all of our blog posts on the Fuel Save Solution here. It is a great source of information if you are interested in saving fuel or planning to integrate solar energy into your grid.

Do you have comments or questions? Great! Just use the comment field below. We look forward to receiving your comments and we will answer each question as best as we can.

You can find even more details on the Fuel Save Solution Product Website.

If you would like our experts to help you lay out your own Fuel Save Solution, just send us an email at FuelSaveSolution@sma.de

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 6 votes

The Author

avatar

My tasks:
I am Project Manager for our SMA Fuel Save Solution. Together with my great team I care for bringing solar energy into the most remote parts of the world
My topics:
Energy management on electrical islands - in water as well as in sand

Tags

Related Posts

16 Comments

  • avatar

    Jacob

    April 14, 2017 at 13:27

    Hello Christian,

    Thanks for your explanation, we have a 340kW diesel generator supplying a village in Tanzania, we want to design a solar system which will work together with existing generator as a hybrid. Can I ask for your help with our design to get right components.
    Thanks
    Jacob

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      April 19, 2017 at 09:24

      Dear Jacob,

      It is great to hear about your project. This is exactly what the Fuel Save Controller is built for.

      Please fill this questionnaire, send it to FuelSaveSolution@sma.de and we will do our best to help you plan your project.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Manh

    April 12, 2017 at 08:28

    Hi Christian,
    Our company is initially deploying solar power projects using SMA’s inverters. Currently we have a small project using about 50kWp PV in Vietnam for family supply. Can I get technical support for this project?

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      April 18, 2017 at 09:16

      Dear Manh,

      of course we would like to help you get your project realized!

      Please fill this questionnaire, send it to FuelSaveSolution@sma.de and we will do our best to help you plan your project.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Safwat Ullah

    April 6, 2017 at 11:17

    Dear Mr.Christian
    Good Afternoon,We represent one of the leading power generation services organization of Pakistan in the business for the last 20 years.We have executed many Solar off grid key projects using different products including SMA inverters during the last 05 years.SMA Fuel Saver Technology is really wonderful innovation for Solar Hybrid projects,your article in this regards is also very helpful.Presently we are working on providing 3MW Solar Hybrid Solution using SMA Fuel Saver technology to one of the largest industries of Pakistan.Please inform us whether this system can be used for on grid applications also.The industry where we intend to install this hybrid system is using local grid utility power and diesel gen sets as standbye power source.Please inform whether SMA Fuel Saver technology can be used to install Solar Diesel Grid tied hybrid system and how can we proceed further for designing of this system.
    Thanks & awaiting your urgent response

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      April 6, 2017 at 22:25

      Dear Safwat,

      that is a really interesting project and I am happy to hear that you have chosen our Fuel Save Controller for your project 🙂

      The Fuel Save Controller works in island systems as well as in grid coupled systems that use gensets for backup. For example the system at Krystalline Salt Kenya (1 MWp PV) is working grid coupled with backup on blackouts of the utility grid.

      Of course we very like to help you design that project. I will contact you via email on how to proceed.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Ravi Sahai

    April 4, 2017 at 15:56

    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for the article, it was really helpful. We are designing a 600 kW off grid hybrid PV-diesel generator system in Peru and am looking for some design support.

    Ravi

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      April 5, 2017 at 22:28

      Hi Ravi,

      I am happy to hear that this article helped you. Of course we want to help you with your project 🙂 I will send you an email on how we can support your hybrid system design.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
  • avatar

    Kukuh Apriyanto

    March 15, 2017 at 09:23

    Hi Christian,

    I’ve been asked by my client to design hybrid PV diesel for mining in Indonesia. Can I get your advise from technical aspect. The plant will go around 1 MWp PV.

    Regard
    Kukuh

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      March 15, 2017 at 15:48

      Hi Kukuh,

      great to hear about this opportunity. I will send you an email to get you in touch with our technical sales support.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
  • avatar

    David Pham

    February 9, 2017 at 18:47

    HI christian,
    We are designing a off-grid 300Kwatts w/batteries and diesel generator for a site in Haiti. I think you did a great work at this site in your article. Can I ask for your help with our design using SMA Tripower 25000TL and SMA Sunny Island 8H and SMA MCBOX 36.
    Thank you in advance for your help. David Pham

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      February 10, 2017 at 10:29

      Hi David,

      that is great to hear. I will contact you by email shortly.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »
      • avatar

        Jide Akin

        April 21, 2017 at 18:08

        Hi Christian.

        Great article. Very interesting that it is a Lagos site as that is our location.

        Similar to David, we are designing a 2 MW hybrid solar plant with storage (batteries) and diesel generators for a housing estate in Lagos Nigeria.

        We are at the stage of determining the most appropriate power conversion technologies, equipment and design for the plant.

        I am hope we can count on your kind assistance in the design with the use of SMA equipment?

        hope to hear from you ASAP.

      • avatar

        Christian Höhle

        April 23, 2017 at 22:36

        Dear Jide,

        your project sounds very interesting. I will get in contact with you by email.

        Sunny regards,
        Christian

  • avatar

    charles lwanga

    January 7, 2017 at 07:47

    It intrasting thanks for a good research done

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Christian Höhle

      January 7, 2017 at 13:38

      Hello Charles,

      thanks a lot for that compliment. Many people think that adding solar to a diesel grid is a complicated thing. I hope that I can show that it is easy to do with the right tools at hand.

      Sunny regards,
      Christian

      Reply »

leave comment

 Maximum comment length