Redback gives the sunburnt country a better solar power solution
Brisbane-based solar energy specialist Redback Technologies is launching a second generation version of their smart hybrid inverter and a new family of grid tied inverters. This will enable household and commercial users to self-consume more of their on-site generated power, achieving greater savings in the process.
Some 1.4 million of Australia’s 7.8 million homes – around one in five – currently have solar power. During the day, solar panels generate large volumes of power that go unused in the home. This unused energy is exported to utilities who pay around 7c per kilowatt hour. At night, when families are home, power usage increases, and families purchase energy at four times their generation rate, with basic flat tariffs ranging between 25-28c per kilowatt hour.
Redback’s new family of products will help households and commercial users increase the percentage of solar power they self-consume, improving the pay back from solar panels and helping to reduce reliance on fossil based fuels.
The new products, the Single and 3-Phase Grid Tie Family and the Generation II Hybrid solar inverters, make use of the Internet of Things and cloud technology to give household and commercial users more options.
The new Single and 3-Phase Grid Tie Family for residential and commercial customers revolutionise the traditional inverter, which converts DC power generated by solar panels into AC power for general use. The new Grid-Tie range incorporates Redback’s proprietary cloud enabled intelligent system for analytics and remote control; Redback’s Ouija Board. The Ouija Board is also found in the Generation II Hybrid for household use; a second generation inverter that is battery and solar panel agnostic.
Across the new family of products, the software is the secret. Redback’s system will use machine learning to gather intelligence over time, learning from user preferences as well as drawing data from external factors like the weather. This will ensure energy usage is optimised, thus providing an accelerated return on investment.
Redback Technologies Chief Information Officer, Paul Liddell, believes the Ouija Board software represents a step change in solar energy management.
“People don’t have to be focused on using expensive hardware solutions for things that can be done with software.”
“When the sun is shining, the Redback solution will ensure the batteries are full and household appliances, like the pool pump and hot water system, are turned on. The idea is to maximise the energy you’re producing by using your appliances – before you store it in batteries,” Mr Liddell said.
Redback’s solution is hosted in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite cloud platform, ensuring easy updates and upgrades as technology develops.
The difference between the Redback solution and others on the market is the hardware and software are integrated from the very beginning, explains Mr Liddell.
“There are some manufacturers that do hardware, and others that make software, but you can run into problems trying to integrate them. The Redback solution eliminates the potential for such problems through seamless integration of hardware and software.”
Redback hardware is manufactured overseas but the all-important intellectual property is a product of Brisbane, where Redback employs a workforce of about 20 and is growing fast.
Redback’s progress has been rapid since the company was formed last year but, for company founder and Managing Director Philip Livingston, this dream has been years in the making.
He points out that at the helm of this start up is a management team which together has more than a century of experience in renewable energy generation, engineering, manufacturing, software development, and energy market regulation.
For his part, Mr Livingston remembers the moment he knew his future would be in renewable energy.
“After I finished college I enrolled in a course on wind power as a side interest and a few weeks later found myself strapped to a wind turbine 40 metres up from the ground. The sun was setting, the mist was rolling in, and I decided I wanted to work in renewable energy for the rest of my life.
“Renewables are the future and I fell in love with solar when I was working on the technology with the Peace Corps in the Philippines.”
There is no doubting Mr Livingston cares deeply about the sustainability of the planet. He is one of those fortunate individuals whose business is also his passion.
“Redback Technologies is building the infrastructure for the next generation grid. We are going to put more money into homeowners’ pockets and create cleaner energy for our children’s future,” he said.