Solar Storage Startup Wins Innovation Award
Tom Lombardo posted on October 24, 2019 |
Yotta Energy developed a plug-n-play battery system for behind-the-meter energy storage with solar.

Yotta Energy, developer of the innovative SolarLeaf energy storage device, won the Solar Power International 2019 Startup of the Year award. The SolarLeaf, a modular, scalable, battery system with patented built-in thermal protection and advanced control and power conditioning circuitry, promises to facilitate the adoption of solar power with behind-the-meter storage.


The SolarLeaf device. (Image courtesy of Yotta Energy.)
The SolarLeaf device. (Image courtesy of Yotta Energy.)

Versatile Operation

The SolarLeaf mounts directly to the solar panel racking, which helps to reduce balance-of-system (BOS) and installation costs in both retrofitted and newly constructed arrays. The added 23 kg (50 lb) is light enough that it doesn’t require extra support structure on a residential rooftop, yet is heavy enough to reduce ballast requirements on industrial buildings.


SolarLeaf system. (Image courtesy of Yotta Energy.)
SolarLeaf system. (Image courtesy of Yotta Energy.)

The SolarLeaf’s control system automatically routes power to where it is most needed. When the solar resource exceeds the demand, the SolarLeaf allows the photovoltaic (PV) panel to deliver power to the load while it charges the SolarLeaf battery with any excess energy. When demand is high, say, on a hot sunny day when the cooling system is running, the PV array powers the load, with the battery bank providing an extra boost if needed. If the battery is fully charged or unusable for any reason, all available solar power goes to the load.

Specifications

The SolarLeaf, designed for easy wiring and scalability, is compatible with string inverters, microinverters and hybrid inverters. Each unit holds 1 kWh of energy—enough to power 10 LED lights or one big-screen LCD TV for 10 hours—and can deliver up to 500 watts of power. Its scalable architecture lets consumers buy storage in stages, helping to spread out the cost of a solar-plus-storage system.

With an operating temperature range of -20°C to 65°C (-4°F to 149°F), the SolarLeaf is well-suited for moderate to hot climates. Its built-in maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and 96 percent efficiency ensure optimal power delivery.

Fire Resistant

Yotta chose Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for its system due to their safety, low toxicity and resistance to thermal runaway. Because each module is mounted directly to the back of a solar panel, the batteries are spread out rather than concentrated. In the improbable event of one module catching fire, it’s unlikely to spread to the system’s other batteries. For added protection, Yotta developed a patented solid-state thermal protection system that employs phase change materials (PCM). Finally, the unit is housed in an IP67 fireproof enclosure.

Behind-the-Meter Storage

Behind-the-meter energy storage offers benefits such as backup power, peak-shaving, and off-grid operation, providing energy security, cost savings and versatility for consumers and businesses. Plug-and-play systems like the SolarLeaf should reduce the design and installation expenses of solar systems, making solar investments more affordable.

Yotta Energy hasn’t set a price for the SolarLeaf yet, but says that it will be competitive with other behind-the-meter battery systems. The company expects to release the SolarLeaf sometime in 2020.

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