New Technology Awakens Sleeping Solar Farms

Bluewater Power Vice President and Western Engineering Professor Dr. Rajiv Varma debember 13, 2016 photo by Melanie Irwin

Bluewater Power and Western Engineering gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate a partnership that has developed new ways of utilizing solar farms at night.

Professor Dr. Rajiv Varma demonstrated the groundbreaking technology for the first time in Canada at the utility’s Confederation St. headquarters.

Varma says the technology will increase grid stability for preventing blackouts, and to help connect more renewable energy sources like wind turbines to Ontario’s grid.

“Solar farms as we know are sleeping in the night and the entire asset remains un-utilized,” says Varma. “This technology adds a tremendous amount of value to that technology and it can actually help utilities solve many of their problems at 1/50th of the cost.”

Varma says installing a tiny incremental controller onto an inverter, transforms the entire setup so solar farms can collect reactive power during the evening that otherwise would be lost.

“A statcom, which is like a voltage controller, is worth $50-million. So just by putting a $100,000 incremental control on an existing solar farm, it transforms a solar farm into a $50-million device,” says┬áVarma.

Varma says the new technology sets up an entirely new revenue stream for utilities.

Bluewater Power has been working with Varma and his team of students for the past seven years.

CEO Janice McMichael-Dennis says it’s very important that the utility remains a community partner and this is one way they’ve been able to reach out and help enable those partnerships.

“When you can provide something valuable, at very little monetary costs, I think it’s an obligation for us to make that happen,” said McMichael-Dennis.

There are currently six patents on the technology and McMichael-Dennis says they are looking into potential commercial opportunities.