In Thailand, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain uses PV systems at its shops to lower its electricity consumption. Cristobal Chin, the CEO of Chow Energy, shared his thoughts on these projects.
You plan to mount PV systems on top of all 7-Eleven stores in Thailand. Just how many rooftops are we talking about?
Since we obtained the information regarding the policy to start utilizing green energy in 7-Eleven stores, we, at the time of design, had been sending our teams to investigate electricity usage and available installation area of each branch to come up with the optimum design and capacity. With such information, we have been awarded and will be installing more than 1,200 solar rooftop systems and this collection would result in more than 22 MW capacity nationwide.
What portion of the stores’ energy consumption will be covered by rooftop PV?
According to the data derived from our load-optimization investigation, the rooftop systems should be able to support approximately 20% to 25% of the stores’ energy consumption.
Technical challenges for power systems
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What are the technical requirements for operating such a vast decentralized fleet?
First of all, it must be noted that each part of Thailand has different conditions of weather and pollution that would definitely impact electricity generation. Our requirement for the system is actually simple; the performance of each system must be at its optimum at all times where possible. Managing these many systems located in various locations would normally require excessive resources, including cost and manpower, if we did not have a reliable and real-time monitoring system. With Huawei’s Fusion Solar monitoring system, we instantaneously know the condition of each system which allows us to promptly analyze its performance and dispatch our team to the site in a timely manner. Moreover, Huawei has made available a broad variety of functions. Apart from being able to pinpoint performance on the inverter itself, we can even obtain information on PV modules’ health and condition. Therefore, Huawei’s inverters can match our high operating standards and objectives to provide only the highest performance and reliable systems to our customers.
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How has your tech helped to overcome challenges?
There are many challenges that we have encountered during the development and construction of the project. Selecting Huawei gives us strong stability of electricity generation as the inverter’s technology provides high efficiency, high stability, and durability for the lifetime of the project. These are the main reasons why we generally choose Huawei as our partner in many projects in Thailand as well as our overseas projects. This is also in line with our principle as solar rooftop system providers which is to always provide our customers with the highest reliability.
Huawei’s inverters offer remote monitoring functions and smart I-V curve diagnosis. How important are these features for such a decentralized project?
One of the biggest advantages that we see in Huawei’s inverter is the in-built function for monitoring and I-V curve diagnosis. These functions will be able to efficiently support our operation and maintenance program. More specifically, the data will be used to verify and control installation work while we can also check the I-V curve for all rooftop systems at our headquarters under the supervision of our dedicated team for each rooftop.
What are Chow Energy’s future direction and target regarding solar and renewable energy in general?
Chow Energy has enjoyed great success in developing solar projects both domestically and overseas bringing a cumulative total of more than 100 MW capacity to commercial operation across various types of projects including large-scale ground-mount projects and both commercial and residential rooftop projects. With a pipeline in excess of one Gigawatt across the Asia-Pacific region, we aim to continue our growth, both in our home market of Thailand and internationally, in the renewable energy sector across various renewable sources, though it will be underpinned by our expertise in solar. With projects involving solar storage, agricultural-sharing, or even floating solar projects with fisheries, we are very excited about what the future holds for Chow Energy and the customers that we serve.
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Source: pv magazine