5B chooses Enphase inverters to bring power to bushfire communities


California-based microinverter maker Enphase Energy has partnered with solar manufacturer 5B to assist with the rapid rollout of its pre-fabricated solar arrays and support its role in the Resilient Energy Collective (REC). The Collective is providing solar power solutions to Australians disconnected by bushfires and floods and is funded with $12 million from Atlassian co-founder, Mike Cannon-Brookes.

5B’s solution is Maverick, a pre-fabricated, re-deployable solar array – in which modules come preassembled onto concrete blocks that replace conventional mounting structures. A single Maverick is a ground-mounted DC solar array block of 32 or 40 PV modules, which can be made with any standard framed 60 or 72-cell PV module. With modules oriented in a concertina shape at a 10-degree tilt and electrically configured, each Maverick weighs about three tonnes. When deployed, one block is five meters wide and 16 meters long (32 modules) or 20 meters long (40 modules).

Such a system makes deploying a solar farm approximately ten times faster than conventional technology. Since they are pre-built, Maverics can be folded up, packed onto a truck for transport, unfolded, and connected to a home or business in less than a day. “To meet the demands of restoring essential services to disaster-affected communities, we needed a solution that is easy to design, assemble and deploy on the smallest possible footprint,” said Rhett Evans, chief technology officer at 5B.

5B said it selected Enphase IQ 7+ microinverters for their unique functionality and compatibility with its Maverick solution. In alignment with the modularity of the Maverick blocks, Enphase technology allows for PV systems to scale up or down in size with flexibility, while reducing installation time and complexity. “Enphase IQ 7+ microinverters are well matched to this application for the simplicity and expandability they offer to our design configurations. Resilience to shade and extra panel level diagnostic data are also very valuable for these early installations.”

In addition, 5B’s Maverick arrays are outfitted with Enphase Envoy communications gateways, which connect the solar systems to the Enphase Enlighten monitoring platform and helps make per-panel energy monitoring and insights for operations and maintenance easy. Launched in the Australian market in 2018, the IQ 7 and IQ 7+ replaced the S-Series model as almost 50% lighter solution. In Australia, the Enphase microinverters are backed by a 10-year warranty, which can be extended for a fee to 15, 20, or 25 years by the homeowner.

“5B is a leading example of technological innovation in solar deployment, leveraging the unparalleled versatility of Enphase microinverter technology,” said Dave Ranhoff, chief commercial officer at Enphase Energy. “We are pleased to collaborate with 5B on an initiative that is a powerful showcase for the positive impact solar power can have beyond standard residential and commercial models.”

Alongside 5B, the REC initiative is carried out in collaboration with battery maker Tesla. The systems to be rolled out by the Collective will be customized to individual energy needs. In standard configurations, the solar+storage systems will cover anything from 8 kwh per day up to 400 kwh per day and allow homes, businesses, and community infrastructure to operate off-grid, 24 hours a day.

Previously, 5B’s technology came to prominence when Sun Cable selected it as its preferred technology on the development of the solar farm component of the ground-breaking Australia-Singapore Power Link project – a 10 GW solar farm coupled with a 20-30GW hour storage facility near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

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