Echelon Jumping Into PV Business

San Jose, Calif.-based Echelon is getting into the business via its i.Lon SmartServer, which is being used by SMA America to communicate with its Sunny Central 250U and Sunny Tower inverters.

Linking inverters with systems for collecting, reporting andanalyzing power and performance data is a standard task for solar powerprojects (see PV: You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure and Fat Spaniel Links PV Data With Satel).

SMA America is using i.Lon servers for a commercial solarphotovoltaic power project in Southern California, said Steve Nguyen,director of corporate marketing for Echelon. More projects with SMAAmerica using i.Lon servers are in the works, he said.

SMA is going the i.Lon route because Echelon’s LonWorks is an opentechnology that interfaces with most of its clients’ subsystems,cutting integration costs, Jeffrey Philpott, SMA America’s director ofmarketing, said in a news release.

That could open up new ways to integrate inverter data toEchelon-enabled building energy management systems, Nguyen noted -andthere are a lot of those out there (see Echelon Beefs Up LonWorks).

Echelon is also in the smart meter business through its NetworkedEnergy Services division, and envisions a future in which smart meterdata is integrated into building management systems.

Adding renewable power production data to the mix could be a next step in integration, Nguyen said.

"As solar becomes more commonplace, the interest in integrating willbecome a lot more prevalent," he said. For building managers interestedin viewing solar power information alongside data for things likebuilding HVAC and backup generator systems, "It gives them a much moreholistic view of their energy interface."

Echelon is also seeking to work with wind power companies in Europeon similar lines, Ngyuyen said, though he wouldn’t name the companiesinvolved.

The $1.8 billion solar PV inverter market is seeing increasedinterest from investors, as its importance in optimizing solar powersystems and technological advances that bring new opportunities forthat optimization emerge (see Green Light post).



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