Green Energy Times Staff
There are lots of reasons to have mobile solar systems complete with batteries. They can supply electricity when the grid is down, or where there is no grid at all, and they can supply it on an emergency short-term basis or for much longer times. Applications include construction sites, micro-grid applications, mining operations, and emergency response teams.
Great Canadian Solar (GCS), based in Edmonton, Alberta has introduced its Solar Sea Can (SSC), a mobile, compact, and flexible off-grid solar energy system. For those who don’t know, “sea can” refers to cargo containers, also known as shipping containers. Sea cans can be moved easily and quickly, and the SSC is packed with solar panels, batteries, and other equipment to set up a small microgrid wherever and whenever it is needed.
GCS was founded in 2009 and has installed 70.0 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential and commercial customers. With that experience, design of the SSC was not a big problem. Clearly, however, it can be a solution for many problems that might arise, big or small. Companies can rent SSC to power office trailers, lighting, security systems, and other critical tools, so they can avoid using gas-fueled generators.
As Great Canadian Solar developed the SSC, it became clear that the battery storage system had to be right. “We needed a battery storage system that has a smaller footprint than traditional systems and is easily transportable,” said Csilla Harsasi, Renewable Energy Technologist and Technical Lead on this project. “Because Solar Sea Can operates in remote areas, it was important for the battery storage to be environmentally friendly and durable – something that could stand up to a little abuse.”
Harsasi decided on lithium ferrophosphate (LiFePO₄ or LFP) chemistry to maintain high round-trip efficiency during the solar charge cycles. She found that Fortress Power offered batteries that were a perfect fit for the SSC.
GCS started with a small SSC, a nine-foot off-grid container. Success with that led to development of a higher-capacity, 20-foot container with 16kW of PVs and 30kW of storage. This larger unit has two Outback Radian GS8048A (8-kW) inverters and two Fortress Power LFP-15 batteries. “Because Fortress Power battery storage is so compact, we can use any pickup truck to bring it to a job site, where it can be quickly charged and discharged,” Harsasi said.
Customers were amazed at how well the system worked, even during frigid winter months. In fact, SSC with Fortress Power battery storage produced an average of 839 kilowatt-hours of solar energy per month from January to March. The SSC system can be used to replace generators powered by fossil fuels, often eliminating the use of fuels altogether.
Great Canadian Solar found that there was more to Fortress Power than its batteries. GCS was impressed by the support and training provided by the Fortress Power team. “Besides having great products, Fortress Power has great technical support,” Harsasi said. “Because Fortress Power has been very proactive about making sure their battery systems are compatible with major solar manufacturer solutions, there’s less work getting the unit up and running on job sites. We haven’t had this kind of experience with any other company.”
Solar Sea Can systems have been in use in the field for a year and a half, often on construction sites. They have proven more reliable, cost-effective, and portable than traditional generators. Among their other advantages are the following:
They are compact, highly portable, and easily set up.
They can be set up just about anywhere.
They provide reliable electricity around the clock.
They can be 100% renewable, optionally.
They are free of noise and emissions.
Great Canadian Solar’s website is greatcanadiansolar.com.
Fortress Power’s website is fortresspower.com.