Q3 2016 PV Newsletter


Q3 2016 PV Newsletter

Plan and Design Utility Scale Solar with AlsoEnergy

In this newsletter:

  • New Offerings from AlsoEnergy for Utility Scale Solar
  • CAISO Compliant RIG Solutions
  • New Feature in PowerTrack: Automated Capacity Testing
  • Find Formatted Reports, System Upgrades, and More in the New PowerTrack Marketplace
  • See AlsoEnergy at SPI and at Solar Finance & Investment USA
  • Check out the Latest Customer Training Videos from AlsoEnergy


[nextpage title=”New Offerings from AlsoEnergy for Utility Scale Solar”]

Plan and Design Utility Scale Solar with AlsoEnergy

AlsoEnergy has been expanding our offerings for utility scale solar with more products and services, more supported devices, and more specialized staff and resources. In addition to our industry-leading solar monitoring platform, we offer utility solutions ranging from simple control features (to meet requirements for zero net export, maximum export or fixed power factor) up to full utility scale SCADA solutions complete with power plant controller, historian, and an array of options.

AlsoEnergy offers fully integrated “turnkey” utility solutions that integrate functionality for data acquisition, control, and utility communications. Benefits include reduced installation costs due to streamlined commissioning, along with the convenience of having a single source for purchase and post-sale support. Our clients also benefit by investing in “futureproof” technology built on a flexible platform that enables controls and other advanced functionality to be incorporated as grid integration requirements may evolve months or years after initial commissioning of your solar power plant.

Power Plant Controller Solutions:

We recognize utility scale client requirements differ from our C&I client needs in a number of important ways:

  • Design interaction is typically engineer to engineer.
  • Custom controls are often required.
  • Utility interconnect requirements are site specific.
  • Utilities think long term and often require plant control solutions be implemented on a non-proprietary logic platform such as a Schweitzer Engineering Real-time Automation Controller (RTAC) using IEC 61131-3 standard programming.
  • Fault tolerant networking schemes utilizing fiber are the norm.
  • Local data storage and analytics is often required (historian).
  • Upstream communications with utility SCADA systems is nearly always required.
  • Onsite commissioning and acceptance testing are required on utility projects.

Utility scale power plant solutions from AlsoEnergy provide a versatile set of building blocks to meet these needs. Our product and service menu includes:

  • PowerTrack Local: A cost effective and scalable SCADA server and Historian solution that includes a single on-site instance of PowerTrack
  • Power plant controller (SEL RTAC, or AlsoEnergy Power Plant Controller)
  • Real-time dashboards (HMI) for efficient plant operation, troubleshooting and maintenance
  • Field network enclosures with a variety of communications options
  • Utility grade, CAISO compliant weather stations
  • Upstream utility communications (typically DNP3.0)
  • Switchgear monitoring and control
  • Other accessories including server racks, power distribution units, uninterruptable power supply, and high availability configurations


The Power Plant Controller from AlsoEnergy is a versatile solution for systems needing comprehensive SCADA functionality. But we also offer a range of simplified technology solutions for projects that do not require full SCADA:

Curtailment Control Solutions:

An increasing number of C&I PV projects require controls. Zero net export requirements are becoming commonplace as grid penetration levels continue to increase. AlsoEnergy provides a host of solutions to address these types of interconnect requirements. These solutions generally do not require a full utility scale power plant SCADA solution and are cost-effective and efficient to deploy.

CAISO Compliant RIG Solutions:

AlsoEnergy offers a cost-effective, reliable, and fully compliant RIG solution for solar generators in CAISO territory. See our full newsletter article about RIG solutions here.


AlsoEnergy understands the process to deliver successful technology solutions for utility scale solar power projects. We have been expanding our utility scale solutions team with specialized staff as we continue to expand our utility scale offering. One noteworthy new addition to our team is Utility Solutions Manager Mesa Scharf. Mesa brings nearly 20 years of experience in the alternative energy industry, including 9 years with Advanced Energy, where he helped design control and monitoring solutions for some of the largest solar plants in North America. “We are excited to bring in a well-seasoned leader to head up our Utility team” said AlsoEnergy CEO Robert Schaefer. “Mesa is helping AlsoEnergy to anticipate the needs of our utility scale clients and deliver cost-effective solutions.”

For more information about utility scale solutions from AlsoEnergy, please contact your Account Executive, or request information at email hidden; JavaScript is required.


[nextpage title=”CAISO Compliant RIG Solutions”]

AlsoEnergy Offers Cost-Effective, CAISO Compliant RIG Solution

AlsoEnergy has received CAISO (California Independent System Operator) approval for our Remote Intelligent Gateway (RIG) solution. We are now able to provide a cost-effective, reliable, and fully compliant RIG solution for solar generators in CAISO territory who require new RIG installations or migrations from other third party RIG solutions.

Our RIG solutions offer the benefit of using a single gateway device that can cover functionality for DAS and power plant control as well as RIG telemetry. Integrated technology solutions from AlsoEnergy help our clients save time and money with one-stop shopping and quick installation, as well as a single source provider for support. These advanced gateway solutions can also help you “futureproof” your assets. Our technology is built on a flexible platform that enables controls and other advanced functionality to be incorporated as grid integration requirements may evolve months or years after initial commissioning of your solar power plant.

With the AlsoEnergy solution, functionality for monitoring, SCADA, and RIG communications are all combined into a single integrated gateway device known as the PowerRIG. PowerRIG provides standard RIG features and more:

  • Secure, real-time bi-directional DNP communications to CAISO using 2048 bit encryption
  • CAISO security certificate management
  • AGC (Automated Generation Control) as required by CAISO
  • CAISO compliant weather station and revenue grade meter
  • Closed loop control as required by the utility
  • Industry leading PowerTrack software for solar monitoring and analytics

Solar generators in CAISO territory are required to go through the CAISO New Resource Interconnection (NRI) process. The NRI process takes more than 200 days to complete and requires careful and timely coordination to meet the 30 plus deliverables ultimately required to achieve the Commercial Operation Date (COD). AlsoEnergy works with established partners who have deep experience navigating the CAISO process to deliver the following services:

  • Step by step project management and guidance throughout the NRI “bucket” process
  • Complete turnkey CAISO compliant hardware solutions including PowerRIG
  • CAISO compliant weather stations and meters
  • CAISO meter and RIG testing and certification
  • Ongoing compliance and certification throughout the life of the solar generation asset
  • Migrating RIG services from another provider? Our team is experienced with RIG conversions.


Contact your AlsoEnergy Account Executive for more information about PowerRIG solutions and to learn how AlsoEnergy delivers a better, more cost effective solution compared to traditional CAISO RIG installations.


[nextpage title=”New Feature in PowerTrack:  Automated Capacity Testing”]

Introducing a New Feature for PowerTrack Users:  Automated System Capacity Testing

From system owners to investors to O&M providers, all solar power project stakeholders want to know if their systems are meeting the expected energy production based on design goals and simulations. Performance guarantees further underscore the importance of accurate and periodic system testing, which is why annual performance evaluations are a common contractual obligation for commercial, industrial and utility-scale PV systems.

The challenge for performance testing is to provide unbiased results, protecting all parties from being harmed by a false result. This process begins with system commissioning, when most systems are thoroughly tested and benchmark production levels may be confirmed. As the system ages, however, there will be some unavoidable diminishment of production capacity based on aging system components. Regular capacity testing is required to ensure that the required performance level is being attained and that degradation due to aging is within the expected range.

This is why AlsoEnergy has developed an automated Capacity Testing Feature for the PowerTrack monitoring platform.  Our Capacity Testing Feature follows the Active Standard ASTM E2848 protocol, offering a robust methodology for standardized capacity analysis of our customers’ sites. PowerTrack performs data filtering, normalization and multiple regressions to calculate an accurate, unbiased assessment of system generation capacity as a function of available irradiance.

The steps for this test, as implemented in PowerTrack, include:

  1. Gather raw irradiance, module temperature, ambient temperature and electrical power output data to calculate averages and standard deviations for each 5 or 15-minute time period.
  2. Remove data points that are likely to contain inaccurate data due to noise, transient weather conditions, device malfunctions or system limits.
  3. Normalize power readings to STC (standard test condition, 25 °C).
  4. Fit a curve to the filtered data to determine the system’s general performance characteristics.
  5. Reduce the data set by removing data points that are significant outliers relative to the curve fit.
  6. Calculate a second curve fit based on the reduced data set.
  7. Calculate the final system performance based on a pre-determined operating condition.

Manual capacity testing can be an expensive and time-intensive effort involving complicated spreadsheets and engineering resources. PowerTrack Capacity Testing is cost-effective and convenient. Results can be delivered as a spreadsheet or a fully formatted and personalized PDF report that can be automatically emailed to designated stakeholders and regulatory agencies, with little or no additional labor required.

Our clients can easily schedule fully automated capacity tests across their entire fleet of solar power assets, resulting in significant time and money savings. This enables users to perform multiple tests in case initial results are skewed by irregular weather, panel soiling, etc. The versatile feature even allows users to customize test parameters to better suit the specific requirements of each PV system.


Capacity Test Reports are available to PowerTrack users in the new PowerTrack Marketplace (more information about Marketplace available here). The Marketplace allows users to examine a sample Capacity Test Report, then create a capacity test for any system with just a few clicks. Users will also find a “Tell Me More” button for Capacity Test Reports with more extensive details about our methodology, along with detailed instructions about how to customize your own reports.


[nextpage title=”Introducing the PowerTrack Marketplace”]

Find Formatted Reports, System Upgrades, and More in the New PowerTrack Marketplace

PowerTrack users, did you know there is a new standard feature in your monitoring platform? Introducing PowerTrack Marketplace, a virtual storefront filled with upgrades and added features designed to help you get more out of your monitoring software. You can find the Marketplace in the Quick Links menu right in your PowerTrack interface.

Don’t be fooled by the name… while some items in the PowerTrack Marketplace are available for purchase, most items offered here are free of charge. You can find software and service upgrades here, along with pre-formatted reports and PPA invoices. Everything in the Marketplace is available at the click of a button; no need to call an AlsoEnergy representative, and no need for formal invoicing.

Here is a current list of the items available in the PowerTrack Marketplace:

For Purchase:

  • SolarSight Log: Satellite-based virtual weather data available as historical log. Use this as an alternative to a physical on-site weather station, or as reference data to compare with local measurements.
  • SolarSight Forecast: Provides all features of SolarSight Log, plus a 5-day hourly forecast for your system’s predicted power output.

Free of Charge:

  • Capacity Test Report: Based on ASTM E2848, this customizable pre-formatted report calculates normalized power output as a function of irradiance to determine if your site is achieving its design expectations.
  • Site Production and Alert Summary Report: This popular report shows actual vs. expected production values adjusted for available irradiance, as well as a summary of all active alerts.
  • Site Production and Alert Summary with Losses Report: This report offers all the same data as the standard Site Production and Alert Summary Report, but adds categorized system losses for those systems with a properly configured performance model.
  • Basic Meter Invoice: This option generates a pre-formatted PPA invoice for up to 3 production meters.
  • Rate Schedule Invoice: This customizable option generates a PPA invoice for meters using a rate sheet.



We are adding more items to the PowerTrack Marketplace every month. Watch this space!

Get more information about the Marketplace in our PowerTrack Training Videos.


[nextpage title=”See AlsoEnergy at SPI and at Solar Finance & Investment USA”]

Check out our Fall Tradeshow Schedule

AlsoEnergy is again exhibiting at this year’s Solar Power International, Sept 12-15 in Las Vegas, NV. See us at booth 725 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

You can also see us at this year’s Solar Finance & Investment USA conference, October 25-26 in New York City. Our CEO Robert Schaefer will be joining a panel discussion on the topic of Solar Asset Management.

This Year at SPI:

AlsoEnergy will be hosting brief application demos and new feature previews in our booth on Tuesday and Wednesday! Check out our speaking schedule, and plan to join us for one or more of these educational sessions:

Tuesday Sept 13

  • 11:00 – PowerTrack Application Demo
  • Noon – Preview Financial Asset Management Module
  • 1:00 – PowerTrack Application Demo
  • 2:00 – Overview of Utility Scale Products and Services
  • 3:00 – Preview Financial Asset Management Module
  • 4:00 – Overview of Utility Scale Products and Services
Wednesday Sept 14

  • 11:00 – PowerTrack Application Demo
  • Noon – Preview Financial Asset Management Module
  • 1:00 – Overview of Utility Scale Products and Services
  • 2:00 – PowerTrack Application Demo
  • 3:00 – Preview Financial Asset Management Module
  • 4:00 – Overview of Utility Scale Products and Services

You can also join us for an evening refreshment at our booth:  we will be serving beer and wine at 4:30 on both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. See you at SPI!


[nextpage title=”Check Out our Latest PowerTrack Training Videos”]

AlsoEnergy has Published More New PowerTrack Training and Sales Videos

AlsoEnergy is maintaining an updated library of Training Videos for our PowerTrack software platform. These videos are designed to share our complete software training program in short-form video format, and also to offer education for our product catalog and guidance for our sales process. These videos allow users to engage with PowerTrack training any time it may be convenient, and the video format allows users to pause, rewind, and re-watch, so they can digest the content at their own pace. All videos are posted on YouTube to enable convenient access for clients and prospective clients alike.

Our latest batch of videos covers a number of topics ranging from new PowerTrack software features to choosing a public display option. Click on a video name below to see the video online:


For a full list of PowerTrack Training Videos available to the public, check our website. PowerTrack Training Videos are also available in the Help section of the PowerTrack application.