WO2013163350A1 - Optimization of energy generation from a wrapped photovoltaic panel - Google Patents

Optimization of energy generation from a wrapped photovoltaic panel Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013163350A1
WO2013163350A1 PCT/US2013/038075 US2013038075W WO2013163350A1 WO 2013163350 A1 WO2013163350 A1 WO 2013163350A1 US 2013038075 W US2013038075 W US 2013038075W WO 2013163350 A1 WO2013163350 A1 WO 2013163350A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
panel
power
pole
wrapped
inverter
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2013/038075
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Paul H. Cooperrider
Robert Richard STARR
Original Assignee
Inovus Solar, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201261687427P priority Critical
Priority to US61/687,427 priority
Application filed by Inovus Solar, Inc. filed Critical Inovus Solar, Inc.
Publication of WO2013163350A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013163350A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L31/00Semiconductor devices sensitive to infra-red radiation, light, electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength or corpuscular radiation and specially adapted either for the conversion of the energy of such radiation into electrical energy or for the control of electrical energy by such radiation; Processes or apparatus specially adapted for the manufacture or treatment thereof or of parts thereof; Details thereof
    • H01L31/02Details
    • H01L31/02016Circuit arrangements of general character for the devices
    • H01L31/02019Circuit arrangements of general character for the devices for devices characterised by at least one potential jump barrier or surface barrier
    • H01L31/02021Circuit arrangements of general character for the devices for devices characterised by at least one potential jump barrier or surface barrier for solar cells
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J3/00Circuit arrangements for ac mains or ac distribution networks
    • H02J3/38Arrangements for parallely feeding a single network by two or more generators, converters or transformers
    • H02J3/381Dispersed generators
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J3/00Circuit arrangements for ac mains or ac distribution networks
    • H02J3/38Arrangements for parallely feeding a single network by two or more generators, converters or transformers
    • H02J3/46Controlling of the sharing of output between the generators, converters, or transformers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J5/00Circuit arrangements for transfer of electric power between ac networks and dc networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J50/00Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power
    • H02J50/30Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power using light, e.g. lasers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J7/00Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries
    • H02J7/34Parallel operation in networks using both storage and other dc sources, e.g. providing buffering
    • H02J7/35Parallel operation in networks using both storage and other dc sources, e.g. providing buffering with light sensitive cells
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02SGENERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER BY CONVERSION OF INFRA-RED RADIATION, VISIBLE LIGHT OR ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, e.g. USING PHOTOVOLTAIC [PV] MODULES
    • H02S20/00Supporting structures for PV modules
    • H02S20/10Supporting structures directly fixed to the ground
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21SNON-PORTABLE LIGHTING DEVICES; SYSTEMS THEREOF; VEHICLE LIGHTING DEVICES SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLE EXTERIORS
    • F21S8/00Lighting devices intended for fixed installation
    • F21S8/08Lighting devices intended for fixed installation with a standard
    • F21S8/085Lighting devices intended for fixed installation with a standard of high-built type, e.g. street light
    • F21S8/086Lighting devices intended for fixed installation with a standard of high-built type, e.g. street light with lighting device attached sideways of the standard, e.g. for roads and highways
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21SNON-PORTABLE LIGHTING DEVICES; SYSTEMS THEREOF; VEHICLE LIGHTING DEVICES SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLE EXTERIORS
    • F21S9/00Lighting devices with a built-in power supply; Systems employing lighting devices with a built-in power supply
    • F21S9/02Lighting devices with a built-in power supply; Systems employing lighting devices with a built-in power supply the power supply being a battery or accumulator
    • F21S9/03Lighting devices with a built-in power supply; Systems employing lighting devices with a built-in power supply the power supply being a battery or accumulator rechargeable by exposure to light
    • F21S9/035Lighting devices with a built-in power supply; Systems employing lighting devices with a built-in power supply the power supply being a battery or accumulator rechargeable by exposure to light the solar unit being integrated within the support for the lighting unit, e.g. within or on a pole
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21VFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS THEREOF; STRUCTURAL COMBINATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES WITH OTHER ARTICLES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F21V21/00Supporting, suspending, or attaching arrangements for lighting devices; Hand grips
    • F21V21/10Pendants, arms, or standards; Fixing lighting devices to pendants, arms, or standards
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21VFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS THEREOF; STRUCTURAL COMBINATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES WITH OTHER ARTICLES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F21V29/00Protecting lighting devices from thermal damage; Cooling or heating arrangements specially adapted for lighting devices or systems
    • F21V29/50Cooling arrangements
    • F21V29/70Cooling arrangements characterised by passive heat-dissipating elements, e.g. heat-sinks
    • F21V29/83Cooling arrangements characterised by passive heat-dissipating elements, e.g. heat-sinks the elements having apertures, ducts or channels, e.g. heat radiation holes
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21WINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES F21K, F21L, F21S and F21V, RELATING TO USES OR APPLICATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • F21W2131/00Use or application of lighting devices or systems not provided for in codes F21W2102/00-F21W2121/00
    • F21W2131/10Outdoor lighting
    • F21W2131/103Outdoor lighting of streets or roads
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J2300/00Systems for supplying or distributing electric power characterised by decentralized, dispersed, or local generation
    • H02J2300/20The dispersed energy generation being of renewable origin
    • H02J2300/22The renewable source being solar energy
    • H02J2300/24The renewable source being solar energy of photovoltaic origin
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J2300/00Systems for supplying or distributing electric power characterised by decentralized, dispersed, or local generation
    • H02J2300/20The dispersed energy generation being of renewable origin
    • H02J2300/22The renewable source being solar energy
    • H02J2300/24The renewable source being solar energy of photovoltaic origin
    • H02J2300/26The renewable source being solar energy of photovoltaic origin involving maximum power point tracking control for photovoltaic sources
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B20/00Energy efficient lighting technologies, e.g. halogen lamps or gas discharge lamps
    • Y02B20/72Energy efficient lighting technologies, e.g. halogen lamps or gas discharge lamps in street lighting
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/50Photovoltaic [PV] energy
    • Y02E10/56Power conversion systems, e.g. maximum power point trackers

Abstract

Solar-powered utilty units include lighting and/or other loads, wherein a solar panel is provided on the generally vertical surface of the infrastructure pole and a flat, supplemental panel is mounted on or above the pole. Preferably, when a wide wrapped PV panel is needed, vertical columns of solar cells are connected in parallel. This way, one or some of the columns is/are likely to receive solar insolation while another or others of the columns is/are in the shade of the pole and producing less energy. Further optimization is achieved by providing individually-tuned power optimizers for each dissimilar solar panel, the tuning being specific to the unique electrical characteristics of the respective panel and the charge controller or inverter being fed by the panel. Preferably, each of multiple P.O. units receive and optimize a different input from a differently- composed and differently-performing solar panel, but the multiple P.O. units' output is all adapted for the single charge controller or inverter.

Description

OPTIMIZATION OF ENERGY GENERATION
FROM A WRAPPED PHOTOVOLTAIC PANEL DESCRIPTION
[0001] This application claims benefit of Provisional Application Serial No. 61/687,427, filed April 25, 2012 and entitled "Optimization of Energy Generation from a Wrapped
Photovoltaic Panel", the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by this reference.
Γ00021 Background of the Invention:
[0003] The invention relates to utility systems for various services comprising one or more infrastructure poles supporting electric -powered devices and apparatus and methods for efficient energy-management of said devices. Aspects of the invention may be applied to one, multiple, or an array of outdoor lighting or other electric -powered devices, wherein apparatus and methods are provided for monitoring and managing said device(s) as a means to provide lighting, security, environmental monitoring, and/or other utilities or services, and, optionally, for analyzing information gathered from said devices/array for dissemination to customers such as the public, commercial entities, or government. More specifically, the invention relates to improved solar panel configurations and power optimization.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[0004] Certain embodiments of the invention comprise an energy-efficient utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising an infrastructure pole (also "utility pole"), and at least one electrical load powered by one or more power sources, such as a solar panel, an electrical grid, and/or an energy storage unit (ESU) that may be charged by the solar panel, the electrical grid and/or other power sources. The electrical load may be one or more lights, security cameras or other security equipment, motion, heat or other environmental sensors, WI-FI hot spots, electronic displays, alarms, and/or other electrically-powered devices.
[0005] The preferred system comprises lighting and may comprise other utilities. The preferred system comprises at least one solar panel provided on the generally vertical surface of the infrastructure pole, wrapped at least part way around the circumference of the pole's generally cylindrical surface. The system may further comprise a non-wrapped, supplemental panel(s) mounted on or above the pole. Preferably, when multiple columns of solar cells are needed for the wrapped panel, the columns are connected in parallel, as an adaptation to enhance power delivery from the generally vertical and cylindrical panel. In certain embodiments, the solar cells of the wrapped solar panel(s) are provided in multiple, vertical columns of cells, wherein the columns are electrically connected in parallel. This way, one or some of the columns is/are likely to receive solar insolation while another or others of the columns is/are likely to be in the shade of the infrastructure pole.
[0006] Further optimization may be achieved in certain embodiments by providing individually-tuned power optimization for each panel of the flexible panel and preferably also for each of said supplemental panel(s). The power optimization (P.O.) for each panel is preferably separate and independent from the P.O. for each other other panel, and each power optimizaiton is tuned to the characteristics of its respective panel. Each P.O. unit is also tuned to the charger converter or inverter to which it is connected, but in preferred embodiments the output of multiple panels through their respective multiple P.O. units are fed into a single charge controller or inverter. In such embodments, each of multiple P.O. units receive and optimize a different input from a differently-composed and differently-performing solar panel, but the multiple P.O. units' output is all adapted for the single charge controller or inverter.
[0007] Therefore, an objective of certain embodiments is to provide parallel columns of solar cells in a generally cylindrical, vertical solar panel for installation on an pole with an options for at least one added panel typically held a slanted orientation by the same infrastreucture pole that holds the wrapped panel. Individually-tuned power optimization is preferably provided for each panel. These adaptations allow efficient energy production, and storage or grid-feed of that energy, even though the solar-panel-wrapped pole operation comprises shading of a section or sections of solar panel surface area at all times, and even though the various panels supported by the pole are very different in their composition, characteristics, and/or performance.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[0008] Figure 1 is a front perspective view of an infrastructure pole (also "utility unit" or simply "pole") according to one embodiment of the invention, the embodiment being a light pole using only a wrapped solar panel and being anchored to a concrete base.
[0009] Figure 2 is a side view of the embodiment in Figure 1, with the conventional-style light fixture removed.
[0010] Figure 3 is top, cross-sectional view of the light pole of Figures 1 and 2, viewed along the line 3-3 in Figure 2, and illustrating to best advantage one embodiment of an adjustable connection between the light pole and the concrete base, and one embodiment of a battery system provided in the lower section of the pole. [0011] Figure 4 is a top, cross-sectional view of the battery compartment of Figure 4, shown with pole and sleeve access doors removed for access to the batteries.
[0012] Figure 5 is a top, cross-sectional view of an alternative battery compartment, without a sleeve and with a single access door through a side of the pole.
[0013] Figure 6 is a top, cross-sectional view of a middle section of the pole of Figures land 2, illustrating the preferred flexible photovoltaic panel applied to the outside of the pole, and a sleeve system for cooling the photovoltaic panel and allowing air flow to continue up to the LED light fixture.
[0014] Figure 7 is a top, cross-sectional view of the in-pole LED fixture of the
embodiment of Figures 1 and 2.
[0015] Figure 8 is a side, perspective view of the in-pole LED fixture of Figures 1, 2, and
7.
[0016] Figures 9 is a partial, cross-sectional side view of the bottom section of the light pole containing a cooling sleeve and one or more batteries, illustrating natural air flow up through the sleeve. The rain skirt has been removed from this embodiment.
[0017] Figure 10 is a side perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the invention, which comprises a portable light pole with in-pole LED fixture, said light pole being hinged to a portable base and so being pivotal from a generally horizontal position for transport or storage to a vertical position for use.
[0018] Figure 11 is a side, perspective view of another embodiment comprising the in- pole fixture, a conventional-style light fixture at the top of the pole, and an arm and traffic light extending from the pole.
[0019] Figure 12 is a side, perspective view of another embodiment of the invented light pole system for use by a highway, wherein the battery system is buried in the ground instead of being contained inside the pole or inside the base, and wherein the pole may be a break-away pole, both features being for improved safety in the event of a vehicle hitting the pole.
[0020] Figure 13 is a schematic illustration of sunlight hitting a vertical, wrapped photovoltaic panel embodiment adhered to the light pole, wherein morning and evening light hit the sheet at close to perpendicular to the sheet surface and the noon sunlight hits the sheet surface at an acute angle.
[0021] Figure 14 illustrates the common conception of power production (for example, watt-hours) vs. time that is expected to be produced from a light- active device over a day. [0022] Figure 15 schematically illustrates the actual power produced (for example, watt- hours) vs. time, by embodiments of the invention, wherein power production from the morning and evening sun is higher than expected. The curve illustrates a power production increase from early morning until mid or late morning, and then a dip in production due top the sharp incident angle of sunlight around noon when the sun rays hit the pole at sharp angles to the photovoltaic panel.
[0023] Figure 16 schematically illustrates that the preferred photovoltaic panel is provided around most of the circumference of the pole, so that said panel is available and catches the suns rays during the entire day.
[0024] Figure 17 is a partial detail view of an alternative lower pole vent, wherein air is taken in between the pole flange and the base, through spaces between the bolts that secure and raise the pole slightly above the base.
[0025] Figure 18 is a perspective view of an alternative solar-powered light system including a connection (shown schematically) to a utility grid.
[0026] Figures 19 and 20 illustrate basic logic flow diagrams of some embodiments of an active lighting control process, including error/alert indication processes, that may be included in certain embodiments.
[0027] Figure 21 schematically summarizes the operation of certain embodiments of an active control system.
[0028] Figures 22A and 22B are side views of another embodiment of a utility unit or "pole" that is an example of an asthetically-pleasing light pole having a generally-conventional outward appearance but comprising certain embodiments of the active control system of Figures 19 - 21. The equipment necessary for active control systems may be contained within the pole and/or generally unnoticeable from the ground level, and so such a pole embodiment may be adapted to comprise various amounts of equipment, control and metering, without the outward appearance changing significantly. In Figures 22A and 22B, the pole comprises a thin-film solar panel wrapped around the smaller-diameter portion of the pole starting about 5 feet above the pole bottom/base, and a shoe-box- style LED-module luminaire supported at the top of the pole but no in-pole luminaire.
[0029] Figure 23 schematically portrays operation and control of a relatively simple embodiment of an active control system for a light pole such as portrayed in Figures 22A and 22B. This embodiment, without a grid-tie, comprises solar charging of three batteries, motion- sensor triggering of lighting control for energy conservation, and photocell light sensing, for example, for detection of dawn and dusk.
[0030] Figure 24 is a plot of an exemplary battery charging control process of the active control system of the embodiment of Figure 23.
[0031] Figure 25 is a plot of battery voltage vs. remaining amp-hours for the active control system of Figures 23 and 24.
[0032] Figure 26 is a plot of the current/voltage curve and the power output curve (watts vs. volts) for certain embodiments of a charge controller using Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology/algorithms, to transfer maximum power to batteries even though PV array and batteries are operating at different volts, for example, for the active control system of Figtures 23 - 25.
[0033] Figure 27 schematically portrays some but not all options for certain embodiments of active control, the equipment and active control system being more complex than that shown in Figures 23 - 26, for example. This schematic portrays a wrapped solar panel energy source, multiple utility/service loads, a grid- tie with inverter, control and metering of power received from and sent to the grid, control and metering of power used to charge the batteries (as energy storage units (ESU)), control and metering of power used by the various loads, and a net meter processor and port for reporting of the metering data. This schematic illustrates complex systems comprising both a grid-tie and ESUs, but it will be understood that certain embodiments may include one or the other, but not both.
[0034] Figures 28A and 28B are side perspective views of embodiments that may comprise certain embodiments of active control shown or suggested by Figure 27. Figure 28 A includes ESUs but does not include a grid-tie, and Figure 28B includes a grid-tie but does not include ESUs.
[0035] Figure 29 is a side perspective view of a grid-tied utility unit generally of the type of Figure 28B that comprises additional loads and load connection-points.
[0036] Figure 30 (two sheets) is a schematic portrayal of an example master-slave network processes according to certain embodiments of the invention, which may provide communication, control and reporting functions between utility units (poles) such as those shown in Figures 27, 28A and B, 29 and 32, for example.
[0037] Figure 31 is a schematic of another example network embodiment, a multi-load peer-to-peer network, comprising both narrowband and broadband communication mesh networks matched to the requirements of the various loads, and a multi-protocol gateway for two-way communication with an internet and cloud service.
[0038] Figure 32 is a side view of an especially-preferred embodiment, wherein the utility unit ("pole") comprises a vertical, wrapped solar panel around the circumference of the generally cylindrical pole, a supplemental flat solar panel atop the pole, and a luminaire mounted on a generally horizontal arm. Hidden inside the pole, and especially in the larger-diameter lower portion of the pole, may be equipment and controllers for operations such as those shown in Figures 19 - 21 and/or 23-27, for example.
[0039] Figures 33A and B are circuit diagrams illustrating series-connection of solar cells, each with a bypass diode. Conventional series-connection panels typically comprise 60 cells in series, but, as cells become larger due to improved manufacturing methods, one may expect 48 - 72 cells in series in a panel, for example, with the trend in cell count being downward. [0040] Specifically, Figure 33A shows a single vertical column of solar cells, such as might be used on a small-diameter utility pole wherein the width (left to right in the figure) of each cell is sufficient relative to the pole diameter for each cell to extend sufficiently around the circumference of the pole to receive solar insolation from dawn to dusk.
[0041] Specifically, Figure 33B shows two vertical columns of solar cells, adapted for larger-diameter poles wherein a single column of cells cannot extend sufficiently around the circumference of the pole, wherein the cells and columns are all connected in series.
[0042] Figure 34 is a circuit diagram showing an especially-preferred embodiment of solar cell arrangement in a wrapped panel, for example, for a larger-diameter pole, wherein this cell arrangement features two columns of cells, each column comprising cells in series (each with a bypass diode) but the two columns being in parallel and each column having 3 blocking diodes in parallel. Alternative embodiments may have 1-3 blocking diodes, for example.
[0043] Figure 35 is a circuit diagram showing series-connected cells in two panels, with a power optimizer (P.O.) connected to each panel, each P.O. having 4 connections, that is, 2 inputs (connections to the panel) and 2 output connections.
[0044] Figure 36 is a graph of experimental data, wherein power was monitored from a half- shaded wrapped panel of series-connected columns of cells on a cylindrical pole, and a half- shaded wrapped panel of parallel-connected columns of cells on a cylindrical pole, wherein the half-shading was done by shading a vertical half portion of the wrapped poles, to simulate half of the panel being "on the poorly-illuminated side" of the pole as will be typical in many pole installations during portions of the day.
[0045] Figure 37 is a graph of experimental data, wherein power was monitored at the output of an off-the-shelf charge controller, over a day of solar insolation on panels on their own respective cylindrical poles, wherein one panel was made of series-connected cells with off-the- shelf power optimizing, and one panel was made of parallel vertical columns without any power optimizing.
[0046] Figure 38 is a graph of experimental data, wherein power was monitored at the output of an off-the-shelf charge controller, over a day of solar insolation on panels on their own respective cylindrical poles, wherein both panels were made of series-connected cells, but one panel was used with off-the-shelf power optimizing, and the other panel was used with power optimizing tuned to the panel and to the charge controller.
[0047] Figure 39 is a graph of experimental data, wherein power was monitored at the output of an off-the-shelf charge controller, during three portions of the test on a single wrapped PV panel. The first portion featured no shading on the panel and no power optimizer, the second portion shaded the lower 20% of the same panel set-up, and the third portion added a tuned optimizer (tuned to both panel and charge controller) to the shaded set-up.
[0048] Figure 40 schematically portrays a preferred embodiment of control and optimized energy generation for an embodiment such as Figure 32, the embodiment comprising energy optimizing apparatus and methods that comprise provision of both a wrapped panel and a flat panel and individually-tuned power optimizers comprising MPPT for cooperation with a charge controller also comprising MPPT.
[0049] Figure 41 schematically portrays another embodiment of control and optimized energy generation for an embodiment such as Figure 32, the embodiment comprising energy optimizing apparatus and methods that comprise provision of both a wrapped panel and a flat panel and individually-tuned power optimizers comprising MPPT for cooperation with an inverter, also comprising MPPT, for a grid-tie.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
[0050] A utility system comprises one or more utility units, which each comprise a pole, plus one or more solar panels, one or more electrically-powered loads, one or more energy storage units (ESU) and/or an electrical grid tie, and a control system that may be made of one or more controllers and power optimizers, which are preferably on or in the pole or closely adjacent to the pole. Each utility unit is also called herein a "pole" due to a pole being the preferred infrastructure holder/support for most or all of the elements of the utility unit. In most instances wherein the term "pole" is used, therefore, the term refers to the utility unit with its various elements of apparatus, controller(s) and adaptations for providing services, rather than only the upending elongated pole member. Instances in which the upending pole member itself is being referred to will be readily apparent from the context.
[0051] The especially-preferred embodiments comprise at least one solar panel that is wrapped around a significant portion of the generally cylindrical side surface of a vertical infrastructure pole. Such a solar panel is called herein a "wrapped panel" herein for convenience, which term includes various methods of providing the panel on the pole side surface. While wrapped solar panels have many benefits, for example including low wind-loading and good aesthetics, certain utility unit embodiments are more effective when comprising embodiments of the invented energy generation optimization apparatus and methods, preferably for a combination of a flexible wrapped panel plus a supplemental rigid flat panel atop at or near the top of the pole. Certain resulting embodiments may result in systems of optimized aesthetics, cost and power generation.
[0052] The energy generation optimization may comprise parallel cell column
configuration for improving power generation in view of shading of portions of the wrapped panel during some parts of the day. Additionally or instead, the energy generation optimization may comprise supplementing the wrapped panel with an additional panel(s) that is/are differently- positioned, and/or differently-performing because of different composition and/or construction. Especially when such a supplemental solar panel(s) is/are used, said energy generation
optimization apparatus and methods include individually-tuned power optimization for each of the panels, that is, each wrapped panel and each supplemental additional panel.
[0053] Utility Unit Structure and Operation Background:
[0054] Details of the structure and operation of many embodiments of the utility units, and active control systems and networking of the utility units, are disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication 2012/0020060 Al (entitled "Energy-Efficient Solalr-Powered Outdoor Lighting" and pubished on January 26, 2012), and U.S. Patent Application Publication
2012/0143383 Al (entitled "Energy-Efficient Utility System Utilizing Solar-Power" and pubished on January 26, 2012), which publications are incorporated herein in their entirety by this reference. [0055] Preferred control systems may comprise built-in intelligence for energy-saving processes, energy- storage management, array - grid cooperation, public- safety services, WIFI, advertising or information dissemination, and environmental data gathering. Said built-in intelligent control may supplement the operation of a single unit/pole or multiple units/poles, and is especially effective in networked arrays.
[0056] Certain embodiments of the preferred intelligent control may take the form of "detect- trigger-action" apparatus and control, which allows responses to changes in the environment of the unit or array, or to changes in or abnormal performance of the equipment of the unit/array. Certain embodiments of detect-trigger-action apparatus and control may even anticipate changes or problems in the environment or equipment, for example, based on historical data and/or algorithms. Certain embodiments of intelligent control for some or all individual utility units/poles, or for various types of networked arrays, manage energy-consumption and/or energy- storage to ensure that priorities are maintained even in low- sunshine periods and that important systems such as energy storage units (ESUs) are protected. Certain embodiments of intelligent control, especially those providing task- and information- sharing for networked arrays, allow self-diagnostics, signal/error overriding capabilities, and/or coordinated activities that enhance operation of the utilities/services in general, and specifically, in many embodiments, energy conservation and public safety.
[0057] One or more utility units may be provided in a wide range of environments, ranging from remote/underdeveloped rural and village area and public lands, to individual properties desiring solar-powered services, to well-developed towns and cities. The services provided by the utility units may include, for example, one or more of lighting, security, alarms, displays, advertising, WIFI, environmental sampling/sensing stations, or other utilities/services. In remote or relatively-undeveloped areas, one or more units typically will work independent of each other or may be networked, and, in many embodiments, the independent or networked units will typically be independent of any grid. In populated or relatively- well-developed areas, multiple units will typically be networked, and optionally linked to a control station (broadly defined as a gateway, computer/server and/or internet entity, with or without a building) and/or the grid.
[0058] Whether the installation comprises a single unit/pole, multiple units/poles, or a networked array of units/poles, certain embodiments of these installations may provide efficient infrastructure for physical and electrical support of multiple utilities/services. This may be very beneficial for many environments, as the multiple utilities/services may be supported and made operable in one format, that is, on a single unit/pole or the units/poles of a networked array, instead of in different formats and structures. In other words, certain embodiments of the invention may replace or prevent the clutter and confusion of having a separate infrastructure system for each utility/service. Multiple electrically-powered devices may be "plugged in" by operative-connections to one or multiple units/poles, in effect, creating a modular and universal utility system that is operable and controllable in an organized and efficient manner. Certain embodiments of the networked arrays of the invention may accept a virtually unlimited number of units/poles, with some or all of the units/poles may be connection points for lights and/or other electrical devices, further adapting the networked arrays to be efficient and organized
infrastructure for utilities. Grid- tied embodiments may cooperate with a conventional electrical grid by supplementing the grid with renewable power production and receiving energy back during non-peak-grid-usage hours, further enhancing reliability and economy of the utilities provided on the units/poles and of the electrical grid itself. Metering of energy to the grid, energy from the grid, and/or energy consumed by the individual electrically-powered devices (whether they are supported on a single or different poles), allows appropriate bookkeeping and billing for the energy different parties who provide or use the energy, and provide or use the different devices, for example.
[0059] Certain networked arrays operate in an independent mesh network, wherein sensing, communication, and control processes take place between the various utility units/poles of the array but not between the array and a control station. These arrays may be called
"independently-networked-arrays" or "independent networks", for example. Certain networked arrays operate in a remote-control mode, or at least a remote-monitor mode, wherein, besides sensing, communication, and control taking place between units/poles of the array, further communication and/or control take place between the array's mesh network and a control station (for example, remote computer/server, gateway and/or internet entity, with or without a building) These arrays may be called "control-station-networked-arrays" or "control-station networks", for example. The intelligent control supplied by the control station may be supplemental to, or replace portions of, independent-mode intelligence of the array.
[0060] An example of a wireless mesh network comprises multiple wireless nodes (said utility units/poles) that communicate bi-directionally with each other and/or with the control station using narrowband data transmission rates or broadband data transmission rates, wherein communications are peer-to-peer, or, in other words, without any hierarchy of the poles. Any wireless node can communicate with any other wireless node, including the control station, for two-way gathering and dissemination of data and/or analysis of data. In turn, the control station may communicate bi-directionally with the internet. As each unit/pole/wireless node may have one or more load devices that may sense or otherwise gather data, and because the units may be spread out over large regions and operate over large expanses of time, the data-gathering capabilities of these networks are great.
[0061] Another example of a mesh network linked to a control station may comprise multiple slave nodes that communicate with each other, and wherein some or all of the slave nodes also communicate with a master node that transmits and receives signals to/from the control station preferably via wireless transmission such as cell phone and/or satellite. The slave nodes may also be called "slave units", "slave poles" or "slave devices", and the master node may also be called "coordinating node", "master unit", "master pole" or "master device". Thus, the control station may communicate with the master node, and the master node communicates to the multiple slave nodes of the array (optionally, with some slave nodes being intermediaries between the master node and other slave nodes) rather than each slave node being controlled individually and directly by the control station. Thus, the multiple slave nodes of the array are preferably connected to, and engage in two-way communication with, only the master node (or with an intermediary slave node), rather than each slave node being connected directly to, and
communicating directly with, a control station. This way, the networked array may be tied to the control station server for two-way gathering and dissemination of data and/or analysis of data. Again, the units of such a network may be spread out over large regions, the data-gathering capabilities of certain networks are great.
[0062] An intelligent control feature that may be included in networked arrays is adaptation to allow nodes to be added in the future, that is, after the initial system has been installed, and for these nodes to be automatically integrated to the network via "self-discovery" in which they are each assigned a unique location identification (ID). The self-discovery system, and assignment of location ID, may be accomplished via a global positioning system (GPS) system tool that identifies the latitude and longitude of the node location.
[0063] Therefore, certain embodiments of the invention may comprise solar panels, one or more loads (such as lighting, security equipment, environmental sensing equipment, transmitters/transceivers, WIFI equipment, advertising or informational display, alarms, and/or other electrically-powered load devices), energy storage equipment, and control systems (or broadly "a controller") comprising hardware, firmware and/or software for intelligent control and operation of individual units/poles or networks. Preferred embodiments are described in the following disclosure, but it is to be understood that the invention may be embodied in many different ways within the broad scope of the claims, and the invention is not necessarily limited to these details, materials, designs, appearances, and/or specific interrelationships of the components.
[0064] Figures 1-18: Examples of Solar-Powered Light Pole Apparatus:
[0065] Certain embodiments of solar-powered outdoor lighting utilize a photovoltaic panel(s) to produce light, over a several-night period even during inclement, cloudy, or overcast weather conditions. Typically, a light pole has a vertical surface area covered by a flexible photovoltaic panel for being contacted by sunlight, and an LED light fixture powered by said photovoltaic panel via a battery or other energy storage device. The preferred flexible panel is a sheet of flexible thin-film photovoltaic material(s) surrounding a significant portion of the circumference of the pole at least in one region along the length of the pole, and, preferably along the majority of the length of the pole.
[0066] The pole may be similar in exterior appearance to conventional light poles, in that the pole profile is generally smooth and of generally the same or similar diameter all the way along the length of the pole. The preferred photovoltaic panel fits snugly against the pole outer surface and requires no brackets, racks or other protruding structure. Various luminaires and other loads may be powered by the photovoltaic panel provided on the cylindrical pole surface and/or by a grid-tie in certain embodiments. An "in-pole" LED luminaire and/or conventional-looking lighting fixtures may be used. Conventional-looking lighting fixtures may extend horizontally or from atop the pole, and may use energy-efficient LED light sources, for example.
Further, because the preferred battery system is concealed either inside the pole, inside a base holding the pole, or buried below the grade level of the ground or street, there is no need for a large box or protruding battery structure on or near the pole.
[0067] In certain embodiments, the solar-powered outdoor utility system, for example, the outdoor lighting system, is connected to the utility grid, so that the photovoltaic panel may provide energy to the grid during peak-demand daylight hours, and so that, if needed or desired, low cost night-time electricity may be provided by the grid to the electrically-powered device(s) such as the outdoor lighting, to power the device(s) and/or charge batteries or other energy storage units (ESUs). In some grid-tied embodiments, no ESUs are needed, but, in others, ESUs are provided that may also be charged during the daylight hours, for providing power to the lighting system during the night hours, and/or providing power to the lighting system in the event of a grid failure or natural catastrophe that interrupts grid power supply.
[0068] Venting and/or air channels may be provided in the pole to allow cooling by natural convection air flow through the pole and the light fixture. Heating equipment may be provided in one or areas of the pole to protect equipment and/or enhance operation during extreme cold.
[0069] Referring now specifically to Figures 1 - 18, there are shown several, but not the only, embodiments of the apparatus that may be used in invented lighting systems and/or in other utility systems. Figure 1 portrays one embodiment of a solar-powered street light 10, comprising a pole 12 with a panel 14 of thin-film photovoltaic material attached thereto. The panel 14 may be selected from commercially-available amorphous silicon (non-crystalline) photovoltaic materials, or other photovoltaic materials, which produce electrical energy when exposed to sunlight.
Examples of flexible panels for use as panel 14 are Unisolar™ (not available at time of filing this application) and, more preferably, Xunlight™ flexible, non-framed laminates (also "solar laminates" or "photovoltaic laminates").
[0070] While currently- available flexible photovoltaic laminates, such as the Xunlight™ solar laminates are preferred, it is envisioned that thin-film light-active materials being developed, or to be developed in the future, may be used in certain embodiments of the invention, wherein said materials being developed or to be developed may be used in the place of the panel 14 described herein. For example, it is envisioned that photovoltaic material may be applied directly to the pole 12 in the form of a liquid having components that later polymerize or "set up" on the pole and retain the photovoltaic material on said pole. Thus, the flexible photovoltaic panels described herein may be provided as a flexible sheet attached to the pole, or as other thin-film materials applied to the pole and taking the form of the pole, that is, preferably curving at least 90 degrees around the pole, and, more preferably, at least 180 degrees or at least 225 degrees around the pole.
[0071] The panel 14 may be a thin, flexible sheet that is preferably adhered to the pole by adhesive. The panel 14 may be a single, continuous sheet with "self-stick" adhesive on a rear surface, and that, upon peeling off of a protective backing, may be directly applied to the pole. The integral adhesive makes attachment of the panel 14 simple and inexpensive. No bracket, rack, covering, casing, or guard is needed over or around certain embodiments of the panel, and this simplicity of attachment preserves the aesthetics of the preferred slim and smooth profile of the pole. Less-preferably, multiple, separate panels may be adhesively applied to the post 12 and operatively connected.
[0072] The preferred panel 14 extends continuously around the pole along a significant amount of the circumference (for example, at least 90 degrees, and preferably at least 225 degrees and more preferably about 270 degrees) of the pole in order to be directly exposed to sunlight through the daylight hours. The coverage illustrated in Figures 13 - 16, for example, will expose the panel 14 to the suns rays generally from sunrise to sunset, in order to maximize solar-power generation. The panel 14 preferably covers ½ - ¾ of the length of the pole, extending from its upper edge 20 at a location near the top of the pole to its lower edge 22 several feet above the base 24 supporting the pole. It is preferred that the lower edge 22 be high enough from the ground or street level that passers-by or vandals cannot easily reach the panel 14 to cut, pry off, or otherwise damage the panel.
[0073] Connection of the pole 12 to the base 24 may be done in various ways, each typically being adjustable so that, at the time of installation, the pole may be turned to orient the panel 14 optimally to catch sunlight through the day. The adjustable connection, shown in Figures 1 and 3 to best advantage, includes a pole base flange 26 having multiple, curved slots 28 through which bolts extend, so that the bolts may be tightened to secure the pole to the base 24 after the pole is rotated to the desired orientation. The connection of the decorative light fixture (50, discussed below), may also be adjustable, so that, given any orientation of the pole, the decorative light fixture may be secured/tightened to point in the desired direction, for example, over a street or sidewalk.
[0074] The main, or only, light-producing unit of street light 10 is a light-emitting diode (LED) fixture at or near the top of the pole 12. LED fixture 40 has a cylindrical outer surface and is coaxial with, and of generally the same diameter as, the upper end of the pole 12. This LED fixture, as will be discussed further below, may emit light out in a 360 degree pattern, or, may be adapted by LED and/or reflector placement and shape to emit various patterns of light as needed for a particular setting.
[0075] Decorative light fixture 50 is portrayed in Figure 1 as a box-style fixture on a horizontal arm, but may be other fixtures. The decorative light fixture 50 comprises a housing 52 and connecting arm 54 that are the same or similar to conventional fixtures. The decorative light fixture 50, however, has no internal or external workings to produce light, no bulb and no wiring, as the fixture 50 is merely a "token" or "fake" light fixture simulating the appearance that the public is used to. The decorative light 50 may have a conventional lens that contributes to the fixture looking normal during the day. Alternative decorative light fixtures may be provided, for example, a "gas lamp" glass globe that extends up coaxially from the LED fixture 40, or a curved- arm with conical housing 60 as shown in Figure 12. Alternatively, the decorative light fixture 50 may be adapted to provide some or substantial light output, for example, a single LED or other minimal light source to further enhance the aesthetics of the street light 10. Alternatively, a light fixture or other conventionally-styled luminaire may be provided instead of the "in-pole" LEG fixture 40.
[0076] Figure 2 illustrates the light pole in use with the decorative, non-lighting or minimally-lighting fixture 50 removed, in which form the street light 10' is fully functional for providing the desired amount of light for the street or neighborhood by means of the LED fixture 40.
[0077] Figure 3 illustrates the adjustable connection of the pole 12 to the base 24, and shows the internals, in cross-section, of the storage system 60 with batteries 62 stored in the lower section 64 of the pole and operatively connected to the panel 14. The batteries 62 of this non-grid- tied embodiment store the energy provided by the solar panel during the day or previous days, and power the LED fixture 40 during the night. The battery system is adapted to store enough energy to power, when fully charged, the LED fixture 40 for several nights with little or no additional charging and without any outside energy input. The battery system preferably stores enough energy to power the LED fixture for at least 5 nights and, more preferably, 5 - 9 nights equating to at least 50 hours, and preferably about 50 - 100 hours or more depending upon the number of hours in a night. Thus, certain embodiments of street light 10, 10' are capable of autonomously illuminating (that is, at least part-time operation from energy provided by the stored energy from solar collection) the surroundings for several, and preferably at least 5 nights, even when the light 10, 10' is located in an overcast, inclement, hazy or smoggy location, all of which conditions will diminish the intensity of the daytime sun hitting the panel 14. In other words, the large amount of energy stored in the batteries during days of clearer weather is sufficient to "carry the light through" cloudy and inclement weather for about a week, until improved sunlight conditions return. The preferred amorphous thin-film panel 14 is more shade-tolerant than conventional crystalline solar cells, and is therefore expected to be more efficient and effective than banks or racks of crystalline solar cells. [0078] Alternative embodiments may use other energy storage units (ESUs) for storing energy from the solar panel. For example, ESUs may include one or more batteries, one or more capacitors, one or more fuel cells, one or more devices that store and release hydrogen and/or one more devices that store and release energy.
[0079] In alternative embodiments, the light 10" (see Figure 18) may be tied to the utility grid, for example, for providing power to the grid during the day (and optionally also charging batteries during the day), and then receiving less expensive power from the grid during the night (and/or also receiving power from the optional batteries as a supplemental/backup power source). In Figure 18, connection to the grid is shown schematically as Gl (underground) or G2 (above- ground) and one of skill in the art, given the disclosure herein, will understand how to build, install, and manage said connections. Especially-beneficial management of said connections, preferably for an array of lights/poles, to the grid has been invented and is discussed below.
[0080] A grid-tied embodiment that also has battery storage capability may provide the benefit of supplementing the grid during peak electricity-usage hours, while also being capable of being autonomous (independent of the grid at least part-time) operation in the event of disaster or other grid outage. In such embodiments, an inverter and control and measurement systems (G3 in Figure 18) will be added, for example, inside the pole, to cooperate with the utility grid and measure and record the system's energy contribution to the grid.
[0081] Controllers are provided to manage charging of the batteries and delivery of energy to the lighting system and/or other electrical loads provided on the pole. Control of the operative connection between the batteries 62 and panel 14 and the operative connection between the batteries and the LED fixture 40 and other components may be done by electronics, circuitry, semiconductors, and/or other hardware, software and/or firmware, for example, embodied in control board 175 shown in Figure 7, and broadly called a "controller" (which includes one more boards, one or more controller units, and various controller embodiments that will be apparent to those of skill in the art after reading and viewing this document). The controller preferably continually monitor(s) battery voltage and temperature to determine battery health, to improve both battery performance and life. As further described later in this document, said controller preferably controls the speed and the amount that the batteries are charged and discharged, which can significantly affect battery life. Combined with the preferred cooling system for managing battery temperature, the batteries of certain embodiments are expected to exhibit longer lives, and better performance, than prior art batteries installed in solar-powered light systems. [0082] A first controller function may deliver a low-current (trickle) charge from the solar collector panel 14 to the batteries. This controller also preferably limits the maximum voltage to a voltage that will not damage or degrade the battery/batteries. A second controller function draws current from the battery/batteries and delivers it to the LED fixture and other electric device(s) requiring power from the batteries. The minimum battery voltage is also protected by the controller to prevent excess battery drain. During prolonged periods of inclement weather and low daytime energy generation, the controller may dim the lights during part or all of the night to reduce the amount of energy being consumed while still providing some lighting of the
surroundings. The controller may turn the light on based on a signal from a photocell and/or a motion sensor, and off with a timeclock, for example.
[0083] The controller may comprise and/or communicate with computer logic, memory, timers, ambient light sensors, transmitters, receivers, and/or data recording and/or output means. Said controller may comprise only electronics and apparatus to operate the single light 10, 10' in which it resides, or may additionally comprise electronics and apparatus that communicate with a central control station and/or with other street lights. Said communication is preferably accomplished wirelessly, for example, by means of a "multiple-node" or "mesh" network via any wireless communication, for example, cell-phone radio or satellite communication, as will be discussed in more detail later in this document. Such a network of multiple street lights ("multiple poles") and a central control station may allow monitoring, and/or control of, the performance of individual lights and groups of lights, for example, the lights on a particular street or in a particular neighborhood or parking lot. Such performance monitoring and/or control may enhance public safety and improve maintenance and reduce the cost of said maintenance. A central control station may take the form of, or be supplemented by, a headquarters or other site with one more servers, or any computer/server/gateway including those accessible via an internet website, for example.
[0084] The entire system for storing and using energy preferably uses, in certain embodiments, only direct current (DC). Benefits of this include that LED lights use DC energy; the DC system is low- voltage, easy to install and maintain, and does not require a licensed electrician; and energy is not lost in conversion from DC to AC.
[0085] The preferred batteries are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) or absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead-acid batteries, or gel-cell batteries, nickel metal hydride batteries, or lithium batteries, for example. It is desirable to maintain the batteries 62 within a moderate temperature range, for example, 40 - 90 degrees F as exposure of the batteries to temperatures outside that range will tend to degrade battery performance and life. Daily battery performance may be reduced by more than 50 percent by cold weather, and batteries may stop working entirely in very low
temperatures. Further, high temperatures tend to also degrade battery performance and life.
[0086] In the configuration shown in Figure 4, the batteries 62 are supported in a bracket(s) 66 and surrounded on multiple sides by insulation 68 for protecting the batteries from cold weather, preferably to help keep the batteries above about 40 degrees F. Further, cooling sleeve 70 is beneficial in hot weather, preferably to keep the batteries below about 90 degrees F. The sleeve 70 is of smaller diameter compared to the pole, for forming an annular air flow space 72 inside the pole along the length of the lower section 64 of the pole. Air enters the intake vents, for example, slits 74 around the pole, and flows up through the annular space 72 past the bracket(s) 66 and batteries 62 to cool said batteries 62, that is, ventilating at least a portion of the pole by natural convection up through said at least one portion of the pole. See Figures 1, 2 and 9. In Figure 17, an alternative lower pole vent for pole 12' , which has a bottom end opening (not shown) into which the air flows for fluid communication with the annular space 72 or other interior axial spaces inside the pole for creating the ventilation draft.
[0087] In Figure 5, one battery system 80 (one of many possible alternative battery systems) is shown, wherein no cooling sleeve is provided, but air may flow up through the battery section through axial spaces 82 around the batteries 62. Insulation 68 is preferably provided at and near the pole inner surface and extending most of the way to the batteries 62, however, with the exception of the axial spaces 82 that provide channels for air flow up through the system 80.
[0088] One may note that the designs shown in Figures 4 and 5 both have access doors systems 76, 86 that allow insertion, maintenance, and removal of the batteries 62 from the lower section 64. The access door system of Figure 4 comprises both a door 77 in the pole and a door 78 in the sleeve 70. The sleeve door 78 of Figure 4 may be insulated, so that the batteries are surrounded circumferentially by insulation, or, in alternative embodiments the sleeve door 78 may be un-insulated or even eliminated. The access door system 86 of Figure 5 comprises only a door in the pole, and is insulated, so that the batteries are surrounded circumferentially by insulation. Other bracket, insulation, and door configurations may be effective, as will be understood by one of skill in the art after reading this disclosure.
[0089] Figure 6 illustrates the internal structure of the middle section 90 of the pole 12, wherein the flexible panel 14 is wrapped and adhered to the pole outer surface. It should be noted that the preferred pole is a hollow, straight (or right) cylinder, and the preferred panel 14 is applied continuously around at least a portion of the pole (for example, around at least 90 degrees, at least 180 degrees, or at least 225 degrees of the pole), so that sunlight "collection" is maximized.
However, other pole shapes may be effective in certain embodiments if the corners are rounded to allow the panel 14 to bend gently around said corners. For example, a square, rectangular, or polygonal pole, with rounded corners, may be effective, with the panel 14 still being provided in a single panel, and not needing to be held in brackets or frames on the various flat sides of the poles.
[0090] Inside the middle section 90 of the pole 12 is an axially-extending sleeve 92, which creates an annular space 94 that extends through the entire middle section 90. This annular space 94 fluidly communicates with the annular air flow space 72, or other air flow spaces 82 of the lower section 64, so that air vents from the lower section 64 through space 94 of the middle section 90 and to the LED fixture 40, as further described below. Ventilation by air flow up through the middle section 90 of the pole keeps the inner surface of the panel 14 cooler than the outer surface that is "collecting" the sun light. This may be important for efficient operation of the solar panel 14, to maintain a temperature gradient between the higher temperature outer surface and the cooler inner surface of the panel. Thus, it is not desirable to have insulation between the panel 14 and the pole 12. The pole middle section 90 may be made without a sleeve 92, in which the hollow interior of the pole might serve in place of space 94 as the air vent chimney in fluid communication with spaces 72 or 82 and the LED fixture.
[0091] The middle section 90 may house various equipment, controller(s), and/or wiring, as desired, for example, additional/alternative long-term energy storage 100 comprising one or more ESUs, for example, batteries, capacitors, fuel cells and/or a hydrogen storage tank, for example.
[0092] Figures 7 and 8 portray transverse cross-section, and side perspective, views, respectively, of LED fixture 40 and its housing 142, positioned above the middle section 90 of the pole. The housing 142 is substantially hollow with an open bottom end 144 in fluid
communication with the middle section 90 and a closed upper end 146. Vents 148 are provided near the upper end 146 to allow air that flows up through the pole 12 to pass through the fixture 40 and then exit at or near the top of the fixture.
[0093] Certain embodiments use light sources (luminares) other than LEDs, for example, one or more of: a light emitting diode (LED), an HID light source, a fluorescent light source, a mercury vapor light source, a gas light source, a glow discharge light source, a solid state light, an organic-compound light-emitting light, an OLED light source. Compared to certain other light sources, however, LEDs are smaller, more efficient, longer-lasting, and less expensive. LEDs use less energy than certain other light sources to provide the necessary lighting desired for a street light. LED may last up to 100,000 hours, or up to 10 times longer than other lighting sources, which makes LEDs last the life of the pole and the entire light system in general, especially when said LEDs are housing and cooled by the apparatus of the preferred embodiments.
[0095] The multiple LED lights 150 of in-pole LED fixture 40 are arranged around the entire, or a significant portion of the, circumference of fixture 40. LED's are arranged in multiple vertical column units 155, and said column units 155 are spaced around the circumference of the fixture 40 to point LED light out from the fixture 360 degrees around the fixture. Reflectors 154 are provided on some or all sides of each LED.
[0096] At the back of each LED column unit 155 are located cooling fins 160, protruding into the hollow interior space 162 of the housing 142 for exposure to air flowing upward from the middle section. The cooling fins and/or other heat exchange is desired to keep the LED's in the range of about 20 - 80 degrees, F and, more preferably, in the range of 30 - 80 degrees F.
[0097] In the center of the fixture in Figure 7, one may see an example schematic control board 80. Optionally, other equipment may be provided inside the fixture 40, extending through to or on the outside of the fixture 40, or in/on stem 166 or the rain cap C at the top of the fixture 40. Such equipment may include, for example, a camera and/or recorder for a security system, wireless network radio, antenna, motion sensor, and/or photocell. If provided on the outside, it is desirable to have such equipment consistent with the contour/shape of the fixture, for example, to be flush with, or to protrude only slightly from, the housing 142 outer surface. The control boards 80 and other equipment, if any, located inside the fixture 40 may be cooled by the upwardly-flowing air inside the fixture, in some embodiments, or, in other embodiments, may need to be insulated from their surroundings, depending on the heat balance in the LED fixture.
[0098] Figure 10 portrays an alternative embodiment of the invention, which is a portable, pivotal outdoor light 200. Light 200 comprises a pole with attached flexible panel 14 of thin-film photovoltaic material, LED fixture 40 at the top of the pole, and a heavy but portable base 224 that is neither connected to, nor buried in, the ground. The pole is hinged at 226 to the base 224, for tilt-up installation at the use site. A lock (not shown) may secure the pole in the upending position until it is desired to remove and move the portable light 200 to storage or another location.
Batteries or other ESUs may be provided in the portable base 224. [0099] Figure 11 portrays an alternative embodiment 300 that includes a traffic light as well as a street light. The pole 12, panel 14, base 24, LED fixture 40, and decorative fixture 50 are the same or similar to those described above for the embodiment in Figures 1 and 2. An arm 302 extends from the middle section of the pole, to a position over a street intersection, for example. A traffic light 304 hangs from the arm 302, and is powered by the solar-powered system already described for the other embodiments. A control board and/or other apparatus and electronics will be provided to control the traffic light, in accordance with programs and instructions either programmed into the circuitry/memory of the embodiment 300 and/or received from a control network and/or central control station.
[0100] Figure 12 portrays an embodiment that is break-away, road-side outdoor light 400 embodiment, which has its battery system 402 buried in a vault in the ground rather than being in the lower section of the pole. The electrical connection between the batteries and the panel, the batteries and the LED fixture extend underground. The rest of the light 400 is the same or similar as the embodiment in Figures 1 and 2, except that the lower section does not contain batteries, and the decorative light is a different one of many possible styles. The lower section of the pole may have a sleeve for encouraging draft and air flow up to the LED fixture, but does not need to contain brackets for batteries. An access door may be provided, for example, to check on or maintain wiring or connections that may be reachable from the lower section. Adaptations, such as break-away bolts, are provided to allow the pole to break-away when hit by a vehicle, as is required for many highway lights. Having the battery system buried in the ground enhances safety because vehicles will not crash into the full mass of the pole plus base plus battery system. Alternatively, batteries could be located in a buried base, to which the pole may be bolted. The pole may be steel or aluminum, and may have rust resistant coatings applied for extending underground.
[0101] Figures 13 - 16 illustrate how sunlight hits flexible panel 14 from all directions on its path "across the sky." The continuous panel in Figures 13 - 16 extends around at least 225 degrees of the pole circumference and along a substantial amount of the length of the pole, provides a large target that the sunlight hits "straight on" as much as is possible. The preferred cylindrical shape of the pole, and, hence, of the panel, provides a curved target with at least some portions that catch light from dawn to dusk. Later in this document, improvements in certain embodiments are described that improve energy production and delivery in spite of portions of poles being shaded at certain times of the day. [0102] It should be noted that, while certain embodiments are outdoor lighting systems, that some embodiments of the invention may comprise the preferred solar-powered pole by itself and/or connected to and powering equipment not comprising any light source, powering non-LED lights, and/or powering equipment other than is shown herein.
Γ01031 Figures 19 - 29: Examples of Active Control for Energy- Efficiency and Load Management:
[0104] Certain embodiments may be considered utility systems for providing one or more electric -powered loads, which may include devices or services for example, using a solar-powered component. In certain embodiments, loads other than lighting are included, for example, security cameras and/or motion or other sensors operatively connected to the lighting or a security camera. Active control of the utility system may provide effective energy-efficient operation even through extended periods of low- sunshine days. This is especially important in systems that are not connected to the grid, but may be also important in systems that are both solar-powered and grid- connected for overall energy conservation. Figures 19 - 21 illustrate basic logic flow diagrams for certain embodiments of an active lighting control process, and error/alert indication processes. The preferred active control determines or predicts available energy and determines or predicts load demand (lighting or other load), and then controls the load by modifying energy to the load and/or other control settings. Such active control may take the form of a "detect-trigger-action" mode, wherein various sensing or self-diagnosis apparatus/methods may be the "detect" step, which trigger the control board/system (broadly called "controller" herein) to take an action based on firmware, software, set-points or other inputs, historical data, algorithms, etc. provided in/for the controller. For example, for lighting, the lighting output and/or lighting timing may be adjusted, with said active control monitoring the system for error(s)/alert(s) that require modifications to, or shedding of, the lighting or other peripherals to prevent damage or failure of the system. For example, by adapting the amount and timing of light output, the system may increase lighting on an as-needed basis while reducing energy consumption at other times. In addition, the technology may indicate lighting system error/alert conditions over the primary illumination device of the lighting system. The technology may be also embodied as methods, apparatus, manufactures, and/or the like.
[0105] For example, certain active control system may comprise and/or be implemented with multiple of the following features: a) energy conservation by dimming lights, and/or other load reduction or shedding; b) energy conservation by operating at lower power levels when demand is low, for example, utilizing low power low-bandwidth wireless most of the time, then switching to the high bandwidth only when required; c) cooperating with the grid, by supplying the grid in peak load hours, and being recharged in non-peak hours; d) for an array of light poles, using a master - slave system or a peer-to-peer system, wherein poles may change their roles in the array network based on strength of signal, and/or error/alert signals, for example, wherein network communication/control is switched to other routes through the array if one or mores poles is/are "down" or sending weak signals; e) adding additional poles by "self-discovery"; f) a quarantine system for self-discovery addition of poles to the network; g) Wi-Fi hot-spots provided by the poles/network; and/or h) a "look- ahead" traffic light system or other coordinated activities.
[0106] The light pole assembly is the preferred structural element of the overall utility system, and contains compartments and channels for the various intelligent and active control subsystems and wiring. A light pole assembly is portrayed in Figures 23A and 23B, which comprises ann operative box-style lighting fixture, rather than the in-pole LED light of Figures 1 - 18. The pole 1112 provides the structural support for the luminaire 1140, and the channel for all the wiring inside that connects the other subsystems. It also provides the outer surface and structural support for the solar collector 1114 . Compartments or holes in the pole are provided for various subsystems depending on whether they need to communicate to the outside world or whether they can be wholly contained inside the pole. Those subsystems include the
batteries/battery enclosures, control board, battery charge controller, solar collector wiring, motion sensors, and RS-232 ports. Specifically, the preferred pole 1112 is of single piece construction, and is made from ASTM steel (10 gauge IPS tube) and is black powder coated to provide protection to the pole from the elements. A battery compartment 1162 is contained in the lower 10" diameter portion (enlarged diameter relative to the rest of the pole) of the pole with a secured door to allow access for installation and maintenance of the battery subsystem. Openings are provided at the bottom and top of the pole assembly to allow natural convective air to enter the interior of the pole to cool the batteries. The solar collector is wrapped around the smaller- diameter portion of the pole, from above the larger-diameter pole bottom end nearly to the top end of the pole. Thus, the solar collector preferably extends about 20 feet along the pole. Openings in the pole allow for electrical connection between the solar collector and the charge controller.
Three openings above the top of the battery chamber allow for the mounting and electrical connection of the motion sensors. The control board is mounted at the top of the battery chamber. The luminaire is supported by an arm that is mounted at the top of the pole. All electrical wiring required for the luminaire and associated electronics are channeled through the interior of the pole.
[0107] Figure 23 illustrates a schematic wiring diagram for a pole embodiment such as that in Figures 22A and B, comprising an LED-based luminaire, a photocell, a control board, a charge controller, a solar collector (PV solar panel) a battery subsystem (composed of batteries, a battery enclosure and wiring harnesses), three motion sensors, and the pole assembly.
[0108] The solar collector captures light during daytime hours and passes it onto the charge controller. The charge controller manages the power provided from the solar collector to optimize the power to be stored in the batteries. The batteries hold stored electrical energy and release it to power the LED luminaire and other system electronics. Various modes of energy release are determined and managed by the control board. The control board uses input from the photocell to determine when to turn the luminaire on (and off at dawn), and uses energy- saving algorithms to manage energy to the luminaire. These algorithms take into account the charged state of the battery subsystem, the photocell output, the state of the motions sensors, and the anticipated time before dawn. Certain variables that determine the degree of power management can be user- selected. The preferred algorithms and equipment are based on 12 volts, but these algorithms and equipment could be scaled/adapted to systems based on other voltages, for example, 24 or 36 volts.
[0109] The preferred solar collector is a thin-film photovoltaic panel/device that converts sunlight into electrical energy. The solar collector typically operates up to about 15% over the rated power (watts) of the panel. The center line of the solar collector faces approximately in the direction of the sun at its highest point in the sky and wraps about 225 degrees around the pole to collect light in the morning and evening hours. The preferred thin-film solar collector comprises bypass diodes that may help prevent shaded portions of the collector from consuming current. Additional adaptations may be made to further improve energy production during shading events, as discussed later in this document. [0110] The battery charge controller is connected between the solar collector and the battery subsystem. The charge controller controls the current and voltage delivered to the batteries and optimizes the charging conditions to the battery to assure that the batteries are not overcharged, preferably according to the multi-step process portrayed in Figure 24. In addition to the main steps shown in Figure 24, the multi-step process features an auto-equalize step (to 14.5V) every 28 days or if low charge, that is preferably 3 hours of over- voltage charge to reduce plate sulfation in lead-acid batteries. Also, the charge controller provides for low voltage disconnect (LVD) at 11.0V (and reconnect when 12 V is again reached), to prevent damage to the batteries from over-discharging. Battery charge is monitored through voltage level, as shown in Figure 25.
[0111] Inventors and Applicant use an advanced Maximum Power Point Tracking technology that converts the voltage from the solar panel that is above the battery voltage into usable energy that can be stored in the batteries. Older technologies, including PWM (pulse width modulation) charge controllers, are unable to do this. Because the batteries may be a 12V system and the solar panel may be a much higher voltage system, significant energy can be converted from the solar panel for storage in the batteries. This enables the system to generate energy on sunny days (or even mostly-sunny days) typically well in excess of what is consumed at night. This excess is stored in the batteries.
[0112] As portrayed in Figure 26, the preferred Morningstar SunSaver MPPT-15
Maximum Power Point Tracking algorithms provide 90% more efficient operation (compared to conventional PWM charge controllers), transferring maximum power to batteries even though PV array and batteries operating at different voltages. Specifications for the Morningstar SunSaver system may be obtained from the company Morningstar and/or from appendices in the provisional U.S. application of which this application claims benefit and which are incorporated by reference into this document. MPPT controllers are apparatus and methods known to those of skill in the art, and will be understood by those of skill in the art after reading this disclosure; MPPT controllers are available from various manufacturers.
[0113] The charge controller is designed to tolerate harsh environments. The fully solid- state electronics are encapsulated in an epoxy potting to prevent moisture and harmful chemicals from degrading the electronics. The casing is a rugged die cast aluminum, and the terminals are marine rated. The operating temperature range is specified from -40 degrees C to +60 degrees C.
[0114] In certain embodiments, six batteries are connected in parallel in a 12-volt system. Each battery stores 26 Amp-hours for a total of 156 Amp-hours. See Figure 25. The battery subsystem can accommodate up to 8 batteries in parallel. The battery dimensions of 6.56"x6.97"x4.92" allows them to be placed in an insulated battery enclosure (2 in each enclosure) and fit within the pole base, preserving the aesthetics of the preferred pole.
[0115] The preferred batteries utilize Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) technology that immobilizes the battery's electrolyte in a fiberglass mat. This leak-proof design means that the electrolyte will not spill is the casing is damaged. It is the reason these batteries are approved to be shipped by air by both the D.O.T. and the I.A.T.A.. AGM batteries provide superior tolerance to heat and low humidity, as little-to-no water is lost under high heat and/or low humidity. This preserves battery life well beyond simple lead-acid or gel batteries under these conditions. AGM batteries also provide recombining of the oxygen with hydrogen to form water during charging. This not only prevents loss of gas and maintains the water for the electrolyte. In the case of too- rapid charging (something that is unlikely to happen with solar collector charging), there is a vent valve for excess gas to escape. To further combat high temperature conditions, the battery chamber in the pole is cooled by a process, described earlier in this document, that draws cool air up through the interior of the pole. The active control system is capable of monitoring each individual battery pack and isolating the rest of the system if one battery (or set of batteries) goes bad, for example, if a battery cannot hold a charge. This is accomplished by disconnecting (via relays or other switching means) the bad batteries from the good batteries in the system. If allowed to stay connected to the system, the bad batteries would otherwise bring down the voltage and performance of the entire system. Left unchecked, it could potentially cause the entire system to degenerate to the point of failure. By disconnecting the bad batteries, the rest of the battery storage system will continue to operate (albeit at a lower overall storage capacity) until the bad batteries are replaced.
[0116] The battery casing and lid are made of a non-conductive and high impact resin. The material is also resistant to chemicals and to flammability. The plates within the battery are optimized for surface area via porous electrode materials. This increases energy density and optimizes capacity. The battery enclosures are made of polypropylene, with an insulating layer between the battery casing and the battery enclosure walls. A wire harness connects all the batteries in parallel, and is made of marine grade wiring. The Inventors' and Applicant's current preferred and approved batteries are PowerSonic's Model 12260. Specifications for which may be obtained from the company PowerSonic and/or from appendices in the provisional U.S. application of which this application claims benefit and which are incorporated by reference into this document.
[0117] SLA-AGM type batteries (sealed lead acid, absorbant glass mat) have been preferred, but they have approximately a 4 year life and must be recycled (lead acid, being potentially toxic). A possible alternative is LiFe P03 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries that may have a 12-15 year life and be entirely environmentally inert (iron-based).
[0118] The controller may consist of a microprocessor-based PCA and the associated firmware that controls the functions described herein. The PCA comprises Microchip's
PIC18F6622 microprocessor, various logic components, power circuitry, an RS232 serial port, and low voltage connectors and circuitry for connection to other electrical
subsystems/components. Most of the electrical connections to other subsystems are either for sensing the various states of those subsystems or for managing power to those subsystems. The control board senses the following:
1) The amount of light detected by the photocell, and manages the algorithms in response to the light detected.
2) Whether motion is detected by any of the motion sensors, and manages the algorithms in
response to the motion detected.
3) The voltage of the battery system, and manages the selection of the energy savings modes from that information.
4) The current sent from the charge controller to the battery system, and reports that amount.
[0119] To manage the light output by the LED light fixture, the control board sends a 0- 5V PWM output to the LED drivers in the luminaire to control the drive currents. The PWM values are determined via the microprocessor by executing the energy management algorithms (detailed below), which take into account values from the photocell, motion sensor and battery system. The control board communicates to the outside world via the RS232 serial port. Simple serial port communication programs can "talk" with the control board. Communication via the RS232 is primarily for reporting and testing. The control board is currently mounted inside the pole at the top of the battery compartment, at an angle to allow access to the RS232 connector. It is conformally coated with a protective film to guard against degradation from environmental extremes such as moisture, chemicals and salt air.
[0120] Motion sensors detect movement during low light or nighttime conditions. There are one to three motion sensors mounted on the light pole. They are low profile and unobtrusive (black body blends in with the pole). The motion detectors are capable of sensing motion out to 10 meters. Yet they have high a high S/N ratio and are low power consumption. Any motion detected is fed back to the controller board which then decides how to brighten the illumination of the LED's. Key variables in the algorithms include the current state of illumination and the battery voltage. The preferred motion sensors are Panasonic's Model AMN14111 "black".
[0121] The photocell detects the ambient light conditions, and is primarily active within the system around dusk and dawn. Detected light level is used to adjust the resistance of the photodetector in the photocell circuitry. The control board senses the change in resistance of the photocell and uses it to determine when to turn the luminaire on (generally at dusk) and when to turn the luminaire off (generally at dawn). The photocell is a twist-lock mounted device that mounts onto standard photocell interfaces on the top of light fixture boxes. The electronics are conformally coated to withstand environmental extremes and are enclosed inside a UV resistant, high impact polypropylene case. It is also rated to operate from -40 deg C to +70 deg C.
[0122] Alternatively, and currently more preferably, the solar panel itself may be used as the ambient light detector. Voltage from the solar panel is converted into a digital reading that the control board senses. The control compares the digital reading with an algorithm for ambient light detection, and determines whether it is dusk or dawn. The current embodiment of ambient light detection used the solar panel.
[0123] The wiring harness connects the batteries in parallel and connects all the subsystems. All wiring is Marine-grade, UL1426 approved wire. All connectors are initially coated with dielectric grease to prevent oxidation and corrosion of the metal contacts. All main power lines (from solar collector to charge controller & from charge controller to load and batteries) are fused (5 amps).
[0124] The term "State of Charge" (SOC) will be understood by those of skill in the art, as a way of indicating the state of the energy storage unit as a portion of the total charge capacity of the energy storage unit. For example, percentage is typically used; SOC of 100% means the energy storage unit is fully charged to its charge holding capacity and SOC of 30% means it is charged to only 30% of its charge holding capacity, etc.
[0125] Figures 27, 28A and B, and 29 portray additional embodiments of utility units ("poles") that provide modular or "ready-made" infrastructure for support and operation of various utility devices and services, for example, various electrically-powered loads that may be used singly or in combination for public or private services. The utility units are networked for sharing of data and/or control and/or for coordinated activities, for example, as discussed below.
[0126] Figure 27 is a schematic of equipment and control for certain embodiments of a utility unit comprising multiple loads, batteries as energy storage units (ESU) and charge control for managing the batteries, a grid tie and micro-inverter and grip tie management, and energy metering system for metering and reporting the energy consumption of various electrical loads.
[0127] Figures 28A and B portray in more detail certain utility units 2100 and 2200.
Utility unit 2100 in Figure 28A is not tied to the grid but comprises ESUs, while utility unit 2200 is tied to the grid but does not comprise ESUs.
[0128] Unit 2100 comprises a pole member 2105 having a PV panel 2110 wrapped around it from a level above the base 2150 (dash-dot lines) to near the top of the pole member. A luminaire 2120 and an antenna 2125 are provided at the top of the pole member. Inside the base 2150 are a charge controller ("CC") 2152, a peripheral device (load) controller 2154, and terminal blocks 2156, specifically for 9 VDC (2158), for 12 VDC (2160) and for 24 VDC (2162). Also in the base of unit 2100 are batteries 2164, which may be AGM and Lithium Iron-Phosphate batteries, for example. In certain embodiments, the peripheral device controller 2154 may be considered "the controller", but in other embodiments, the peripheral device controller 2154 plus the CC 2152 combined may be considered "the controller", and in certain embodiments, the peripheral device controller 2154 plus the CC 2152 plus any control capability in or on or adjacent to the pole may be considered "the controller".
[0129] Unit 2200 comprises a pole member, PV panel, base 2250, a luminaire 2220, and an antenna 2225, that are similar or the same as those in unit 2100. Inside base 2250 are a micro- inverter 2252, a peripheral device (load) controller 2254, and a power supply 2156 (AC to 9/12/24/48 VDC), and 9 VDC terminal 2258, 12 VDC terminal 2260, 24 VDC terminal 2262, and 48 VDC terminal 2264, and a transformer (120 - 480 VAC) 2266. One may especially note, in unit 2200, the grid-tie lines labeled "to grid" and "from grid".
[0130] Figure 29 shows one of the grid-tied units 2200 supporting multiple loads, in this case, all above the PV panel 2210, to illustrate the point that the utility units and networks of utility units are vertsatile and "modular" in that they can provide multiple services customized for many client and environments. For example, a motion sensor 2230 is shown under the arm of the luminaire 2220, wherein the generally cone-shaped region of motion-detection 2232 (not necessarily to scale) is shown in dash-dot lines. A sensor unit 2235 that comprises one or more chemical/element sensors, water/moisture sensors, for example, is installed near the top of the pole member. A video security camera 2240 is installed above the top of the PV panel.
"Currently-unused" connection point 2245, in capped and sealed condition, is also shown above the top of the PV panel, and is available for yet another load. Connection point 2245 is representative of how a unit may be provided with multiple connection points, which provide access to internal wiring in the pole, for example, and to which different loads may be connected depending on the particular use, client, or environment of the utility unit 2200. As in Figure 28B, one may note the grid-tie lines of the unit 2200, a from-grid line 2270 and a to-grid line 2280.
[0131] In view of the foregoing description, it may be noted that certain embodiments are a utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising: a pole; at least one power source comprising a photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole; a controller operatively connecting said electrical load device to said at least one power source; wherein the controller is adapted for two-way communication between the controller and said electrical load device; and wherein the controller is adapted to control consumption by said electrical load device of energy from said at least one power source.
[0132] The currently-preferred wrapped PV panel may be a thin-film photovoltaic material(s) having an efficiency in sunshine in the range of 5%-50%, for example. In certain embodiments, the controller may be adapted to throttle (reduce power) or otherwise reduce energy consumption of the utility unit when the ESU falls to a state of charge (SOC) in the range of 5- 20% above a minimum safe SOC, said minimum safe SOC being a charge level below which damage occurs to the ESU. wherein the utility unit further comprises a motion sensor and a light sensor and wherein said load device is an outdoor light, said controller being adapted to turn on said light at about dusk as determined by a light sensor at a reduced brightness in the range of 50 - 80% of full brightness, and then to dim the outdoor light down to a range of 5% - 25 % of full brightness after a predetermined amount of time and throughout the nighttime except for times when said motion sensor senses motion near said pole.
[0133] The load device may be selected, for example, from a group of: a luminaire, a light emitting diode (LED), an HID light source, a fluorescent light source, a mercury vapor light source, a gas light source, a glow discharge light source, a solid state light, an organic-compound light-emitting light, an OLED light source, a security device, a camera, a security camera, an audio recorder, a video recorder, a wireless network radio, an antenna, a low bandwidth radio, a high bandwidth radio, a radio transmitting in multiple bandwidths, a WIFI modem, a wireless transceiver, an alarm, an electronic sign, an electronic display, a power line communication modem that enables two-way communications over power line electrical wires, emergency call box or button, two-way voice transmitter; a Wi-fi access point, a sound sensor, an environmental sensor, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, an air quality sensor, and a sensor of one or more air pollutants. The utility unit may further comprise a sensor selected from a group consisting of: a light-sensitive sensor, a motion sensor, a sensor of one or more chemical compounds, a temperature sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, a humidity/moisture sensor, a sound sensor, a sensor of physical contact by an object or person with the pole, wherein said sensor is operatively connected to the controller to send a detection signal to said controller when the sensor detects a change in the environment of the pole, that triggers the controller to change a control setting for said load device so that the first electrical load device operates differently after said trigger. The change in control setting may be selected, for example, from the group consisting of one or more of: turning on said load device, reducing power to said load device, raising power to said load device, moving said load device, moving a portion of said load device, executing one or more subroutines in said load device, and turning off said load device.
[0134] Two-way communication between a controller and control station may comprise transmissions of data from the control station to the controller selected from the group consisting of: sensor signals; error signals; set-points for controlling said load device; firm-ware; soft-ware; one or more executable subroutines; instructions for overriding a sensor; instructions and set- points for protecting an ESU from damage; system reset instructions; component reset
instructions; reset motion event count; clear sensor reading; light sensor thresholds for dawn and dusk; motion sensor thresholds for motion event trigger; hysteresis and maximum triggers per time; override commands for on and off; commands for reducing energy consumption; and commands for scheduled-event changes. Said two-way communication between the controller and the control station may be done by narrowband at a data transmission rate in the range of about 2 Mbit/s or by broadband at a data transmission rate in the range of about 54 to about 600 Mbit/s, typically depending on the communication rate requirements of the load(s). A control station may comprise an internet connection, wherein said utility system comprises multiple of said utility units in a wireless mesh network with said control station, wherein the control station is adapted to wireless two-way communication with one or more of the multiple utility units; said two-way communication being selected from a group consisting of: sensor signals; energy usage data for a load; error signals; set-points for controlling said load device; firm-ware; soft-ware; one or more executable subroutines; instructions for overriding a sensor; instructions and set-points for protecting an ESU from damage; system reset instructions; component reset instructions; reset motion event count; clear sensor reading; light sensor thresholds for dawn and dusk; motion sensor thresholds for motion event trigger; hysteresis and maximum triggers per time; override commands for on and off; commands for reducing energy consumption; and commands for scheduled-event changes. The wireless mesh network may be adapted for coordinated activities between said multiple utility units, wherein a sensor signal from at least one of the utility units causes the controller of at least one other utility unit to change a control setting for one or more electrical load devices of said at least one other utility units to change performance of the one or more electrical load devices.
Γ01351 Figures 30 and 31: Wireless Intelligent Outdoor Lighting System (WIOLS):
[0136] As described above, many embodiments require a wirelessly connected population of solar-powered poles, each containing multiple or all of these main components:
1. A pole with physical mounting interfaces for various types of loads, preferably including
lighting, but in certain embodiments including security cameras, alarms, WI-FI, displays or other loads;
2. An off-grid, on-grid, or on-grid with energy backup (by ESU), solar engine;
3. A wireless radio supporting networking (e.g., wireless mesh, for example, peer-to-peer or master-slave);
4. Environmental sensors such as ambient light level (day or night,) motion, noise level,
temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, rain, etc.;
5. A processor running firmware that implements coordination algorithms; and
6. Control interface(s) to peripherals for the purpose of turning them on, off and other peripheral- specific actions.
7. Data interface(s) to peripherals for the purpose of acquiring information necessary to perform the coordination algorithms, for example, the concentration of nitrous oxides or other pollutants in the air.
[0137] Thus, certain embodiments comprise adaptations such as intelligent control, for independent processes, such as independent monitoring, control, and output (light, alarms or other communication, etc.), which independent processes comprise sensing, communication and control between the nodes/poles of an individual WIOLS. As described above, therefore, such networks are called "independent array" and/or an "independent network of nodes", and are not linked to a control station.
[0138] Certain other embodiments comprise adaptation for non-independent processes, such as communication between the WIOLS and a control station, as in "control-station- networked- arrays" or "control- station networks". Such networks may be master-slave networks or peer-to-peer networks, for example. Examples of some, but not the only, network
configurations are shown in Figures 30 and 31. Figure 30 illustrates one example of one, but not every, embodiment of a master- slave network, wherein there is a hierarchy of poles in that the slave poles two-way communicate with the master pole and the master pole two-way
communicate with a control station. Figure 31 illustrates an embodiment of a peer-to-peer network, wherein a multi-protocol gateway communicates between the poles and the
internet/cloud services. Figure 31 illustrates that communication with the poles may be broadband or narrowband, depending on the urgency and data transfer requirements of the loads and tasks of the poles.
[0139] Figures 32- 40: Especially-Preferred Embodiments Comprising Energy
Generation Optimization
[0140] The especially-preferred embodiments have enhanced energy generation capabilities as they comprise adaptations for management of shading and diverse solar panels. Many embodiments that comprise a wrapped solar panel will experience shading on portions of the wrapped panel, for example, because the utility units do not move/turn to optimize exposure to the sun, and because portions of a panel wrapped all the way, or nearly all the way around, a cylindrical pole will typically be in the shade of the pole at some time during the movement of the sun across the sky. See Figures 13 and 16. Further, portions (and especially bottom portions) of the wrapped panel may be shaded during certain parts of the day, due to nearby trees shrubs, buildings, or other objects casting a shadow on the wrapped panel.
[0141] These shaded conditions can adversely affect power generation by the utility unit, especially when the wrapped panel is conventionally constructed. Certain adaptations in the solar cell arrangement of the wrapped panel, and/or supplementation with a flat panel of differing composition and differing location may ameliorate shading problems and/or may otherwise increase energy production. In the event that a supplemental panel is added, further improvement in energy generation is achieved by providing individually-tuned power optimization for each panel. These adaptations and their results are detailed below.
[0142] An objective of the especially-preferred embodiments is to optimize the energy that can be converted to electricity from the photovolotaic (PV) solar panel that is wrapped around an infrastructure pole, also called "utility pole". Examples of such poles are light poles or any other pole that provides infrastructure servies/capabilities, such as light, power or telephone poles, cellular towers, flag poles, security camera or security fence/barrier poles, etc. The solar panel can be completely or partially wrapped around the pole, and may be a flexible PV panel, or directly deposited on the pole, for example. The wrapped PV solar panel may also be used in conjunction with a second, or "supplemental" PV solar panel, wherein said second PV solar panel will be selected to have characteristics and/or shape and/or position significantly different from the wrapped panel, so that it supplements the wrapped panel power production by filling a different "niche" in said power production. For example, the second panel may be one or more flat panels installed on the pole and typically slanted to face the sun a significant amount of the time during the day. Such a second panel, positioned high off the ground and facing the sun much of the time, can supplement power production without providing such a large footprint/size that it is dangerous in storms and wind. An example of the relative surface areas of the panels is the flat panel having a smaller surface area that the wrapped panel surface area, for example, less than about 80%, or more preferably, less than about 70% of the surface area of the wrapped panel. For example, the supplemental flat panel may have about 17.3 sq. ft. PV surface area compared to the wrapped panel having about 27 sq. ft. PV surface area. While the wrapped panel(s) and the supplemental panel(s) will typically have very different characteristics in terms of composition and performance, embodiments of the invention will optimize the energy from each panel to maximize the energy that can be converted from the PV panels.
[0143] The especially-preferred utility unit is typically provided in a grouping of poles, for example, to light an outdoor walkway, motorway, parking lot, or individual-building or building-complex grounds. Alternatively, single utility units may be provided, for example, for remote lighting, WI-FI, or other services. Referring to Figures 32A and 32B, there is shown a single preferred utility unit 2500 having a luninaire 2505. The utility unit 2500 comprises an upright pole 2512 that is typically cylindrical at least along a substantial length of the pole and adapted for fixing in a foundation or other attachment to the ground. The preferred utility unit has at least one flexible solar panel 2514 affixed to, or otherwise formed on, the generally cylindrical surface of the pole. Optionally, a flat solar panel 2540 is also mounted at or near the top of the pole, with the flat panel between vertical and horizontal to face the sun, for example, slanted at about 30 - 60 degrees from horizontal. The wrapped panel may be a flexible thin-film PV panel, for example, a Xunlight XRS-19 panel or a Xunlight XID38P panel. The Xunlight XRS-19 is rated at 158 watts and includes 19 cells in series, for example, a single column of cells as portrayed in Fig. 33A. The Xunlight XID38P includes 2X19 cells, that is, 2 columns each having 19 cells in series, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel, as shown in Fig. 34. Each of the cells in the Xunlight panels is characteristized by approximately 2.2 V/cell open circuit (OC). The single-column Xunlight panel may be well-adapted for a longer, smaller- diameter pole, for example. The two-column Xunlight panel may be well-adapted for a shorter, larger-diameter pole, for example. Further, the flat panel may be a fixed single crystalline or polycrystalline silicon flat panel, for example, such as a 240 watt Canadian Solar CS6P-P panel. Specifications are shown for the two example flexible panels and the flat panel in Table 1, whereby it may be noted that these panels are electrically dissimilar, and that the flexible panels are particularly electrically different from the flat panel.
Table 1
Figure imgf000037_0001
Length (+/- 3 mm or < 215.8 nominal (- 100.5 64.5
0.12 in), L (in) 1.5 in. possible)
Width (+/- 3mm 17.9 30.0 38.7
or0.12 in), W (in)
Thickness, T (in) 1/16 in. 1/16 in. 1.57
Temp. Coefficient -0.23 %/degree C -0.23 %/degree C -0.43 %/degree C
of Power
Temp. Coefficient -0.38 %/degree C -0.38 %/degree C -0.34 %/degree C
of Voc
Temp. Coefficient +0.12 %/degree C +0.12 %/degree C +0.065 %/degree C of Isc
[0144] The objectives may be met by a certain modes of electrical connection of cells on the wrapped solar panel and/or the use of multiple tuned power optimizers that take into account the output characteristics of each of the PV solar panels and the input characteristics of either a charge controller or an inverter. By using multiple power optimizers that are individually tuned to each of the PV solar panels, the inventors can better use different PV panels, including very different PV panels, to meet different, supplementary or complementary needs for power production.
[0145] For the inventors' wrapped solar panel embodiments, conventionally-available flexible panels are limited in their physical dimensions by the equipment used to deposit and process the films that comprise the cells. The physical dimensions often are not wide enough to have a single cell cover the circumference of the generally cylindrical pole. Thus, a conventional, single column of series-connected solar cells (Figure 33A) is sufficient for smaller-diameter poles, for example, extending most of the way around a pole of about 7 inches in diameter (typical for a pole of about 25 feet tall, for example). The single column of series-connected cells of about 16 inches may wrap around about 270 degrees of the circumference of a 7 inch diameter pole. The single 16- inch-wide column, however, would cover only about 185 degrees of the circumference of a 10 inch diameter pole, and this is less than typically is desirable. Therefore, a single column of cells is not sufficient for many poles, for example, poles of diameter over about 10 inches in diameter. Alternatively, two-column panels, with each column being made of about 14 inch- wide series-connected cells, can cover about 320 degrees of the circumference of a 10 inch diameter pole. Therefore, two or more columns of PV cells may be advantageous across the width of the wrapped solar panel, that is, columns arranged side-by-side and running axially on the pole.
Again, the solar cells for such an arrangement will conventionally be in series (Figure 33B). One or the other of these series-connected columns of cells will be largely shaded at certain times of the day; typically one will be shaded early in the morning (being in the "shadow of the pole") and the other will be shaded later in the afternoon (the "shadow of the pole" being reversed). At such "shaded levels" of light, cells are not sufficiently forward-biased to inject current across the diode junction. The current must flow through each of the series-connected cells before it can reach the charge controller (CC) or inverter. Each of the sub-sets of cells (the illuminated cells, and the poorly-illuminated cells) will tend to be physically parallel columns of cells due to the physical configuration of a vertical cylindrical pole body around which the panel will be wrapped. The illuminated cells/column will create a significant amount of current, while the adjacent poorly- illuminated/shaded cells/column may generate some voltage, but will act more like a current sink, that is, taking the current from the illuminated cells/column and not passing it on to the charger controller or inverter. The net current will therefore be small, reducing the available power to the CC (in the case of battery-charging mode) or the inverter (in the case of grid-contributing mode).
[0146] Some solar panels attempt to overcome the cells acting as a current sink by putting bypass diodes across the cells (Figs. 33A and B). However, the voltage drop across these bypass diodes is cumulative across affected cells in series. This reduces the net voltage of the cells that are energized by solar insolation. If the voltage is below the required voltage to charge batteries via a charge controller, or below the turn-on voltage of the inverter, the available power will not be converted into usable power through the charge controller or inverter. Furthermore, it may be possible that the voltage in this scenario exceeds the turn-on voltage, but is less than the range of voltages for the charge controller of inverter to operate in its Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) mode. Since the MPPT mode is often critical for the charge controller or inverter to maximize the output power, not operating in this range will diminish the net power that is usable.
[0147] The inventors have found that an adaptation may be made in cell
arrangement/connection to avoid the current sinking or diode voltage drop scenarios. In stead of a conventional single-series row/column for narrow-width panels (Figure 33A) or series-connected cells in series-connected columns (Figure 33B), the inventors have found that the adapation of connecting the columns in parallel (Figure 34) achieves definite advantages. Placing columns in parallel provides a return conductor from the end of each column to the charger controller or inverter, allowing all of the current generated by the illuminated column to reach the CC/inverter. The poorly-illuminated column still does not generate much current/power, but it does not "sink" the current/power from the illuminated column and the net power output is much higher than if the columns are in series. In other words, parallel connection allows the voltage generated across the illuminated column to be maintained, even though the adjacent column to which the illuninated is connected in parallel is not well illuminated. This allows the solar panel to not compromise the available power, either through current sinking, or through the diode voltage drops of bypass diodes. Therefore, the inventors' believe that this parallel electrical connection is critical for columns of cells that are wrapped around a cylindrical pole if one is to maximize the available power from the solar panel.
[0148] Figure 36 shows data from an experiment wherein two solar panels were half- shaded, for comparison of a solar panel that has cell columns connected in series (as in Fig. 33B) vs a solar panel that has cell columns connected in parallel (as in Fig. 34). No power optimizers were used. Output is normalized to Watts/sq meter since the two panels have slightly different geometries. The solid line in Fig. 36 represents the panel with series-connected cell columns, the panel being made of two (2) Unisolar PVL-68 panels connected in series, wherein one of the Unisolar panels was shaded and one was in full sun, thus, a series-connection of two sub-panels or two "columns". The dashed line in Fig. 36 represents the panel with cell columns connected in parallel, the panel being a single Xunlight XID38P, wherein one half (one of the parallel columns of the Xunlight panel) was shaded while the other half was in full sun. The panel connected in parallel outputs almost 5 times the power/m the panel connected in series. Since the panel of columns connected in series has bypass diodes, this shows the effect of the voltage drop across those bypass diodes; the voltage drop is severe enough to prevent the voltage from the panel to reach the range of voltage to allow the charge controller to operate in the desired range for MMPT.
[0149] Another adaptation for improving energy generation is the provision of individually-tuned power optimization for each PV panel of the utility unit, as will be further described below. The combination of both of the invented adaptations, that is, parallel cell- column connection plus individually- tuned power optimizers, has been found to be particularly beneficial, as is discussed later in this document. [0150] Power optimizers (P.O.) are known in the art, and are available "off-the shelf, However, an off-the-shelf P.O. unit and its firmware (typically MPPT algorithms) assume the P.O. is connected to a "generic" solar panel and, therefore, assume "generic" output to the P.O. from the solar panel(s). The off-the-shelf P.O. unit and firmware also assume the P.O. is connected to a "generic" charge controller (CC) or inverter with "generic" input requirements. This translates into the P.O. being designed for non-specific ranges of assumed electrical characteristics, rather than being tuned for a particular solar panel and a particular charge controller. Although the nonspecific ranges may be wide/broad in some instances, they may be inaccurate and inappropriate for many solar panels and/or CC/inverters.
[0151] For example, a solar panel might be a panel producing up to 230 W with a 15-28 V Vmp range, while the charge controller (such as a Morningstar SSMPPT-15L charge controller) is typically, for a 24V nominal battery system, compatible with panels that have < 70V Voc, < 400W Power, Vmp >32V, and Isc < 15 A, withminimum panel power driven by the size/capacity of the batteries used.
While the charge controller is made for wide ranges, note that there is inherently a mis-match between the 15-28 V Vmp solar panel and the Vmp > 32 V Vmp charge controller. An off-the- shelf P.O., for example, a Solar Magic (National Semiconductor) SM-1230-4A, would be able to operate to some extent with the example solar panel and charge controller but would have no "knowledge" of (not be tuned for) the solar panel and CC. Further, if dissimilar panels are supplied in the system, such as in preferred embodiments of the inventors' utility units, this lack or knowledge/tuning could render the utility unit even more inadequate. Such a scenario's energy production and ESU-storage/grid-contribution would certainly not be optimized/maximized, and this un-optimized/un-maximized scenario could be worse with two dissimilar panels in use and connected to a single CC/inverter. In summary, the inventors' have found that there are distinct advantages to specifically tuning the P.O. to both the solar panel and the CC/inventer, and that such tuning may especially be beneficial when dissimilar panels are used for solar-energy production.
[0152] Thus, individual-tuning of P.O. units, according to certain embodiments of the invention, preferably comprises adapting the P.O., including changing the settings of the firmware (for example, MPPT algorithms), to operate optimally and specifically for: 1) the particular PV solar panel, to which the P.O. is operatively connected, and/or (but preferably both) 2) the charger controller or inverter. This tuning, in other words, changes the P.O. and/or its firmware settings to account for the electrical variability of PV panels and the characteristics of the CC/inverter.
[0153] Tuning by changing of MPPT settings of the P.O. to match the PV solar panel may comprise, for example, changing (also "fine-tuning") one and more preferably multiple, and most preferably all, of the P.O. firmware/MPPT settings relating to the following PV panel
specifications ("electrical characteristics" or "power characteristics"): Open-Circuit Voltage ("Voc"), Maximum Power Point Voltage ("Vmp"), Short Circuit Current ("Isc"), and Maximum Power Point Current ("Imp"). In addition, the differing temperature sensitivities of the different PV panels, in regards to these four specifications, may be taken into account in the changing (fine- tuning) of the P.O. settings, for example, by specifying thermal coefficients of the panel. Note that each of these specifications is a point specification, because normally, when speaking of panel specification, they are referenced to a specific set of solar and temperature conditions. The maximum power point (MPP) voltage (Vmp), however, can be expressed as an operating range for an MPPT algorithm. In other words, a panel will have a MPP point (since it is an output device), although that point is dependent on the solar insolation; therefore, the panel can have a range Vmp as the sunlight intensity varies, and a PO preferably has an MPP range, meaning that it can track the MPP of a panel as it varies due to solar conditions/insolation.
[0154] Tuning by changing of the P.O. settings to match the CC/inverter may comprise, for example, changing (also "fine-tuning") one and more preferably multiple, and most preferably all, of the P.O. MPPT settings relating to the following CC/inverter specifications ("electrical specifications"): Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max. Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max. Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage or Voltage Range (the voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp", typically stated as a range of Vmp for the CC/inverter), and the Maximum Input Power.
[0155] MPPT algorithms are dynamic in that they are constantly looking at the
characteristics of the input power and adjusting the operating volage and current to extract the maximum power (voltage times current). For example, one panel may have a voltage that does not fall in the Maximum Power Point Voltage range (the voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp"). The P.O. unit between that panel and the CC/inverter may adjust its voltage and current accordingly to operate within the Vmp of the CC/inverter. One example is an inverter that has a Vmp range between 22V-26V. (Note that this is an example of a
CC/inverter having a Vmp input specification range, as an adaptation because Vmp of a PV panel may vary as the sunlight intensity varies.) If the PV panel tends to sit at 30 volts and 5 amps (150 watts power) when illuminated, then the inverter will not be able to extract the maximum power from the panel, because it will want to drop the voltage down to its Vmp range of 22V - 26V. This follows also for an inverter being "fed" by an off-the-shelf (un-tuned) P.O. that assumes an inaccurate/incorrect Vmp of the inverter, for example a Vmp in the range of 30V - 35V. The untuned P.O. would not change the voltage/current, and the inverter again would not be able to extract the maximum power from the panel. On the other hand, a P.O. tuned according to certain embodiments of the invention will "have knowledge" of the inverter's Vmp range, by virtue of its MPPT settings being tuned, and the tuned P.O. (its tuned algorithms "instructing" the
firmware/hardware of the P.O.) will take that 150 W of power and change the voltage/current to fall within that Vmp range, for example, by changing to 25 volts and 6 amps (25 times 6 still equals 150 watts). The 25 volts would be inside the Vmp range of the inverter, and the full power from the panel can be extracted (minus a small, relatively insignificant, loss in the power conversion to 25 volts and 6 amps).
[0156] An example of tuning the P.O. to a particular PV panel would be a scenario in which a panel is installed that has a low voltage output. The P.O. would be tuned to that panel, so that it would begin boosting that panel's voltage as soon as there would be sufficient start-up voltage available from the panel, for example, about 9 volts. Once reaching 9V, the P.O. would boost the panel's output to some minimum value. If there were 2 P.O.'s connected in series, then each would supply a minimum of 15 volts so that the CC or inverter would "always see" a resulting 30 V minimum, assuming sufficient solar insolation.
[0157] The tuning of the P.O. according to certain embodiments of the invention is especially beneficial, given that charger controllers and inverters are sold as "off-the-shelf units, as mentioned above, with firmware and algorithms (including MPPT algorithms) that are not reprogrammable or alterable by the installer/user. Controllers and inverters are considered "fixed" devices, and the inventors have found methods and apparatus to optimize their utility units' energy generation in spite of these fixed CCs and inverters. Given the disclosure of this document, including the drawings, one of average skill in the art of power optimizing will be able to adapt a P.O., including programming P.O. unit firmware such as MPPT algorithms, to perform said tuning of separate P.O. units for dissimilar PV panels and different charge controllers and inverters. This programming will typically be done at the sight of manufacturer of the P.O., or may optionally be done by the utility unit manufacturer or installer, for example as discussed further below. Examples of manufacturers may be one or more of MomingStar, Solar Magic, Draker Energy, and Enphase. One example of an inverter to which certain P.O.s according to certain embodiments may be tuned is an Enphase Ml 90 inverter, with a maximum power input of 230 W, 54 V Voc maximum allowable voltage, and 22-40 V Vmp optimum MPPT operating power range.
[0158] The internal firmware of off-the-shelf, ready-to-use P.O. units is pre-set to various parameters and settings for the most common application that the manufacturers sell them. The parameters and settings in the firmware are not generally available to change by the end user; the manufacturer only has access to them by modifying the firmware installed into the P.O.s. The most common application of P.O.s assumes an array of identical panels connected in a series arrangement. For a tuned power optimizer according to certain embodiments of the invention, the manufacturer would customize the P.O. by adjusting the firmware parameters to meet the needs of the specific panels and charge controller/inverter of said embodiments. The inventors believe that hardware changes would not be necessary in the tuned P.O., in most embodiments. Thus, the resulting tuned P.O. would have unique firmware (including MPPT algorithms). Because many manufacturers of P.O.s consider their firmware to be proprietary, one could supply the
specifications (higher level operating parameters of the PV solar panel and CC or inverter (see example lists) and the P.O. manufacturer would translate that into specific firmware/algorithms. In addition to tuning for the PV panel and CC or inverter, additional tuning for the battery characteristics may be done. In general, P.O.s are used with arrays of many panels of the same construction and composition, so it is unique and unusual to use them in a 2-panel configuration where the panels are substantially different from one another.
[0159] The tuned settings would be highly specific to the panels and the CC or inverter of the embodiments, for example. For tuning to a Sunsaver MPPT charge controller, for example, the two power optimizers would be tuned to put out 34V minimum and 70V maximum. 34V is the minimum to ensure the batteries (AGM or LFP type) can continue charging regardless of their charge level, the 70V is the maximum voltage that it would be desirable for the Sunsaver solar input to see (based on Sunsaver maximum solar input voltage). The battery voltage relationship to minimum solar input for charging would be the main, or only, spec on the battery side that would affect the optimizers. The panel maximum current and power would preferably also be used for power optimizer tuning; for an Inovus Solar® wrapped tall panel, it would be 158W & 6.4A, and for the Inovus Solar ® flat panel Canadian Solar CS6P0240P, it would be 240W, 8.6A. The Sunsaver CC MPPT also does a periodic "perturb and observe" at its solar input to ensure it is operating at the maximum power point (MPP), which means the P.O.s would see and respond to this. Note that the Sunsaver CC sees the P.O. outputs, not a solar panel, so the PO needs to "look like" a solar panel, but not necessarily like the panels connected to the P.O.; hence, the P.O. changes its input to match it to the CC. The P.O.s should be adjusted to handle this periodic perturbation from the Sunsaver CC and there are some internal firmware changes to do this. One thing the optimizers will do better than actual panels (that is, direct connection of panel to CC or inverter) is that, if one power optimizer is unable to produce much power (due to a shaded panel, for example), it still allows the other power optimizer to pass power through it so that it does not "block" generation. To allow manufacturers to accomplish these adaptations in the P.O., the user would supply data sheets for their desired PV panels and for the CC (for example, the Sunsaver CC) to the P.O. maker and the maker would derive the best setup/firmware/algorithms for the power optimizer, as will be understand by those of skill in this art. A physical sample of the desired CC or inverter might be desirable for the maker, but makers of P.O.s typically have programmable solar panel simulators that could be adjusted to perform according to the date sheets/specs given to the maker by the user.
[0160] One may see from the above lists of tuned specification, in certain embodiments, that the settings are related because they relate to electrical characteristics. In simple terms, the settings relate to the dynamic voltage and current "naturally" produced by a PV panel of a particular composition and construction, and the ability of the MPPT algorithms in the
CC/inverter to maximum power out put from the CC/inverter given such dynamic input.
[0161] It is of interest that, when a panel comprising all-series-connected cells (Fig. 33A and B) has a power optimizer connected to it, that combination is not as effective as a panel that has its columns of cells connected in parallel. The experimental data in Figure 37 shows that a panel with columns of cells connected in parallel still performs better than a panel with cells all connected in series operating with the aid of a power optimizer. The dashed line in Fig. 37 is the PV solar panel with two columns of cells connected in parallel (as in Fig. 34), which panel was one Xunlight XID38P panel (having two parallel columns) without any power optimizer. The solid line in Fig. 37 is a solar panel with two columns of cells connected in series plus an off-the- shelf (untuned) power optimizer in series after each column, as in Figure 35. The solid line (series-connected) solar panel was made of two Unisolar PVL-68 panels, so that each of the two panels may be called a "column". Note the parallel columns' (dashed) better and more stable overall performance, and particularly the better performance in early morning and late afternoon (see the larger dashed-line"shoulders" in the plot).
[0162] Charge controllers and inverters typically have a voltage range where their optimal MPPT algorithms work. Input values that are lower than this range will not activate the MPPT algorithms, and a significant amount of power can be lost (not converted to usable power by the system). Voltage values above this range may be incompatible with the charge controller/inverter and cause fault sequences to shut off the charge controller/inverter. These issues can be avoided using a commercially-available power optimizer unit (P.O.) that has both "boost" and "buck" mode capability.
[0163] A conventional power optimizer can raise or lower voltages with high power conversion efficiencies, thus maintaining the vast majority of the available power from the PV solar panel. At low voltages, the power optimizer can operate in the Boost mode to raise the voltage to an acceptable level for the MPPT algorithm to work in the charge controller/inverter. At high voltages, the power optimizer can work in the Buck mode to lower the voltage to avoid fault scenarios and to allow operation for the MPPT algorithm.
[0164] Even given these conventional "boost and buck" P.O. capabilities based on "average" and "generic" solar panels and charge controller/inventor, the inventors believe that truly optimal power conversion is best done by tuning the power optimizer to the characteristics of the charge controller or inverter. This is especially true at low solar insolation levels, when the voltage of the PV solar panel may not be sufficient to allow the charge controller/inverter to run in the optimal MPPT range. Such low solar insolation level situations can happen through at least two scenarios for a flexible PV solar panel wrapped around an infrastructure pole.
[0165] In the first scenario, the power optimizer may be operating in Boost mode, but not sufficiently tuned to the input characteristics of the charge controller/inverter, specifically not boosting the voltage sufficiently, or losing a significant amount of power in that Boost mode (poor efficiency at low power). The experimental data in Figure 38 shows data from a test wherein power optimizers (both untuned and tuned, as described below) were tied to identical flexible PV solar panels wrapped around in infrastructure pole. During the early-to-mid-mornings, and during the mid-to-late afternoons, the lower light levels keep the PV solar panel voltages lower than the optimal voltage range for the charge controller's MPPT algorithm. This tends to occur whether the PV solar panel comprises a single column of cells or multiple columns; the western cell- portion or column will experience substantially-reduced solar insolation in the morning and the eastern cell-portion or column will experience substantially-reduced solar inosluation in the evening. At mid-day when the sun is due- south, for example, the east and west cell portions or east and west columns will experience equal sun.
[0166] It may be noted that solar cells do not require full illumination across all p arts of the cell to still work, but partial illumination (of only part of a cell) will scale-down the generated power. This is why, a single-cell-column PV panels on a wrapped panel may still usually produce power even though not all the column is well-illuminated at the same time. For example, although the west side of the single column may be poorly illuminated in the morning, the east side of the single column will produce power. The parallel connection disclosed herein prevents/limits the problems such as voltage sink that tend to occur when the illuminated regions and poorly- illuminated regions are two separate columns of cells rather than being different portions of the same cells/columns.
[0167] In Figure 38, power characteristics at the output of charge controllers are monitored over a day. The solid line in Fig. 38 traces the power characteristics at the output of a charge controller that has off-the-self, untuned power optimizers between the PV solar panel and the charge controller; specifically, this was done by putting off-the-shelf power optimizers in series with two Unisolar PVLl-68 panels (one optimizer after each panel), as in Fig. 35. While the
P.O. system was operating in the power optimizer boost mode, without knowledge of (without being tuned to) the characteristics of the charge controller and without knowledge of (without being tuned to) the characteristics of the PV solar panel, the net conversion of available power from the PV solar panel was significantly reduced when solar conditions were less than optimum for the panel, that is, early AM and late PM hours when the panels had the greatest insolation difference between east and west sides of the panel.
[0168] The dashed line in Fig. 38 traces the power output of the charge controller that has tuned power optimizers between the same model of PV solar panel and the same model of charge controller, specifically using the connection scheme shown in Fig. 35 but with the power optimizers being specifically tuned to the PV panels and to the charge controller. Thus, these power optimizers were tuned for specific input and specific output, rather than being off-the-shelf in both respects. Therefore, the graph of Figure 38 compares the results from two power optimizers working with identical solar panels, wherein one P.O. system (two tuned optimizers) is specifically tuned to the particular solar panel and the particular charge controller being used (thus, a "doubly-tuned" P.O.), and the other is tuned to neither. The doubly-tuned power optimizer delivers more available/convertible power to the charge controller, resulting in superior charge controller output. Both setups were run side by side at the same time.
[0169] The second scenario of low solar insolation on wrapped flexible PV solar panels around in infrastructure pole is when partial shading occurs on the panel due to a shadow of an adjacent object. This can happen when trees, buildings or other obstructions shade the panel that is wrapped around a pole, typically a bottom part of the panel. The shading can vary by season as a function of when leaves are on the trees and/or the shadows cast by the obstruction as the angle of the sun changes from season to season. Figure 39 shows the impact of a tuning a power optimizer to a flexible PV solar panel that is wrapped around an infrastructure pole that is partially shaded at the bottom (i.e. by the shadow of a tree or building). Measurements were taken, for three conditions, at the output of a charge controller connected to a flexible PV solar panel wrapped on a pole, which solar panel was one Xunlight XID38P panel. The initial conditions show the output of a charge controller, wherein there was no shading on the PV solar panel, followed by a second set of conditions wherein shading was on the lower 20% of the PV solar panel. When the bottom-shading occured, the output of the charge controller drops by more than 50%, even though the shaded area consists of about 20% of the panel's active area. This was due to the voltage drop of the panel into the input of the charge controller. The third set of conditions was the placement of a tuned power optimizer in series between the solar panel and the charge controller. The power optimizer was tuned to both the solar panel and to the charge controller. Almost half of the power lost was reclaimed using this tuned power optimizer under this scenario. The solar panel used in this experiment comprises only series-connector solar cells, that is, no parallel-connected columns.
[0170] Therefore, several scenarios of energy optimization have been determined. When multiple columns of solar cells are required in order to cover the desired amount of the pole circumference, preferred embodiments connect the multiple columns in parallel. This is particularly beneficial for the shading that occurs because a column may be in the shadow of the pole during part of the day. As the installer will typically "face" the axial mid-line of the wrapped solar panel toward geographic south pole (if placed in the northern hesisphere), a portion of the wrapped panel that is toward the west will will be shaded in the morning, and a portion that is toward the east will be shaded in the evening. This type of shading is expected to be a vertical, full or nearly-full shading of a vertical strip of the panel that may roughly correspond to half of the cell widths (if single column) or to a full column (if multi-column). Thus, the entire height of a vertical strip of the panel is expected to be shaded during this type of morning or evening shading, as opposed to a bottom portion of the panel being shading from a tree, building or other environmental structure. Therefore, parallel connection of cell columns has been found to be effective and beneficial, especially in view of morning- and evening-type shading.
[0171] In addition, it has been determined by the inventors, that tuning the power optimizer to the input characteristics of the MPPT algorithm of the particular charge controller or inverter, and also to the output characteristics of the particular PV solar panel, is effective and beneficial. With this tuning, more power can be effectively converted from a flexible PV solar panel that is wrapped around an infrastructure pole. It is important to note that, in certain embodiments, this requires that the tuning be specific to the individual solar panel being used. Hence, when panels of different compositions/constructions are used, each panel is preferably provided with its own tuned P.O. unit. See Figures 40 and 41.
[0172] In Figure 40, both a wrapped PV solar panel 2514 and a supplemental, flat PV flat panel 2540 are provided. In this embodiment, a single charge controller 2560 is used. The output of each of the panels is input into separate P.O. units. Therefore, tuned P.O. 2571 is in series between wrapped panel 2514 and charge controller 2560, and P.O. 2571 is tuned specifically to panel 2514 and to controller 2560. Tuned P.O. 2572 is in series between flat panel 2540 and controller 2560, and P.O. 2572 is tuned specifically to panel 2540 and controller 2560. Both P.O. units 2571 and 2572 can be tuned to produce input compatible and optimized for the same controller, so two P.O. units are needed in this embodiment while only one charge controller is needed. Both the P.O. units 2571, 2572 and the charge controller comprise MPPT algorithms.
[0173] In Figure 41, which is one of many possible grid-tied embodiments, many of the elements of Fig. 40 are present, but an inverter replaced the charger controller and batteries. In embodiments that charge batteries (see Fig. 40, for example), it may be necessary to keep the solar input voltage high enough (above the battery voltage, for example) so that the batteries can continue to charge; if the solar voltage were to get too low at the charge controller input, the batteries may stop charging (even though there is available solar power). With an inverter embodiment without batteries, however, the solar input voltage range may be quite different than a battery-based system. Therefore, due to such different input voltage requirements (ranges) and possibly other characteristics (parameters), for example, tuning the P.O.'s 2571, 2572 in an inverter embodiment may be quite different than tuning them in the embodiment of Fig. 40.
[0174] While MPPT algorithms are known in the art, as mentioned above, embodiments of the invention go beyond known MPPT methods, by tuning settings for MPPT algorithms in individual power optimizers to account for the each different PV solar panel and each different charge controller or inverter, especially as applied to utility units with wrapped panels as disclosed herein. Because certain embodiments of the invention will use very electrically-dissimilar solar panels, such as a flexible PV panel wrapped on the vertical pole surface, and a fixed single crystalline or polycrystalline silicon rigid flat panel, tuning of a power optimizer uniquely to each of these panels is important so the two panels can operate in power regimes where maximum power can be obtained. Alternatively, certain embodiments may comprise other than two different panels. For example, certain embodiments may comprise providing a single PV solar panel, a single charge controller/inverter, and a single tuned (preferably doubly-tuned) P.O. unit. Also, for example, certain embodiments may comprise three or more PV solar panels, more than one charge controller/inverter, and multiple P.O. units (preferably one for each PV panel, as each will either be of different composition/construction or in significantly different solar insolation environments.
[0175] As is apparent from the above description of the experiments, it will be understood that "a panel" may comprise multiple columns, "sub-panels", or "modules" of the same panel type (composition and constructions), so that multiple columns/sub-panels/modules of the same type may be considered "a PV solar panel".
[0176] PV solar panels that are different in composition, construction, and/or electrical connection of cells, herein called "dissimiliar" PV solar panels, will exhibit different performance, for example, different efficiencies, different reactions to parts of the solar light spectrum, and different sensitivities to temperature. When integrated into utility units disclosed herein, the resulting electrical characteristics may be very different, translating into very different
specifications being used for the disclosed tuning of the P.O. units. Without the disclosed tuning, a charge controller or inverter (particularly the MPPT algorithms therein) may react to dissiimilar PV panels by optimizing for one of the PV panels and leaving the second/other panels in a state where its/their power contribution is/are significantly dimished. Providing separate power optimizing for each of the dissimilar PV panels, and tuning the P.O.'s to the characteristics of said dissimilar PV panels, allows the inputs from the panels to be better matches to the maximum power point range of the charge controller or inventer. [0177] Examples of Certain Embodiments' Physical Structure and Main Components:
[0178] Main components of certain infrastructure poles (also, "utility units" or "utilty poles") may comprise, consist essentially of, or consist of:
1. A pole that acts as a structural element on which to attach or hang components, or in which to house components;
2. At least one energy generator consisting of a photovoltaic solar panel, and preferably two, a wrapped panel and a rigid flat panel;
3. An option of at least one energy storage device such as a battery, a fuel cell, a capacitor, and/or a thermal reservoir;
4. At least one energy consuming unit (load) such as a light, a camera, a sensor, a transmitter, etc.;
5. An intelligent component such as a computer or controller (discussed herein as
"controller" or "controllers") that:
a. Monitor(s) variables from the energy generator(s) like power, current, voltage;
b. Monitor(s) variables from the energy storage unit(s) like voltage, temperature, current, impedence, certain electrochemical characteristics;
c. Monitor(s) variables from the load(s) like current, temperature, position, operational state, certain diagnostic parameters, etc.;
d. Manage(s) the amount of and how energy flows from generator to storage device(s) and load(s);
e. Compensate(s) for certain variables' impact on the energy storage devices' ability to convert incoming energy into stored energy;
f. Monitor(s) input from sensors that collect data on the environment around and internal to the infrastructure pole;
g. Manage(s) the flow of energy from the generator and/or to the loads based on the data from the sensors;
h. Has/have an option of a charge counting set of electronics (such as a charge counting IC) that counts the charge going into the energy storage unit and the charge coming out of the energy storage unit to power loads;
i. Has/have intelligent methods and algorithms to compensate for charging conversion efficiencies, temperature effects on SOC, idle (at rest) effects on SOC, and cycling effects on SOC (both number of cycles and depth of cycles); preferably all algorithms required to predict the State of Charge are done by the intelligent component; j. Can communicate with other intelligent controllers/computers to interpret commands to override or augment pre-programmed algorithms and further enhance energy management of the infrastructure pole;
k. May have intelligent method(s) and algorithms to review data from the energy
generator, energy storage device(s), load(s) and sensor(s), determine if the events will put the infrastructure pole in a wrong or sub-optimal operating state, and intervene to ignore certain events, and/or reset the system to a proper operating state;
6. Sensors that collect information on the environment around or inside the infrastructure pole; and
7. Communication pathways between the intelligent component and all other components of the infrastructure pole; and preferably
8. Protective devices, such as surge protectors such as MOV devices connected to the
electrical lines, for example, for protecting the electronics/controllers against surges from nearby lightening (however, possibly not direct lightening strike).
[0179] Certain embodiments of the tuning of a power optimizer may be described as comprising, consisting essentially of, or consisting of: parametric adjustment of input characteristics and MPPT algorithm to achieve the best overall power harvesting from a specific solar panel and solar conditions, and parametric adjustment of P.O. output characteristics to achieve the best overall transfer from the optimizer to a specific provided charge controller or inverter. Parametric adjustments in the P.O. are made through firmware, and requires knowledge of the panel specifications (for P.O. input) and knowledge of the charge controller or inverter specifications and behavior (for P.O. output). A tuned P.O. goes beyond supplying power in a Vmp range that is appropriate for the charge controller or inverter; the tuned P.O. would preferably take into account all the specifics of the particular solar panel, and assuming there are 2 panels and 2 optimizers (Figure 35), the outputs of each optimizer would need to be adjusted so that their sum (the two PO outputs are connected in series) is well matched to the CC/Inverter input. Many off-the-shelf P.O.s assume an array of panels (maybe 6-20 of the same panel, for example) and the P.O. outputs create a much higher output voltage and power than the inventors would have in a 2-panel system. Preferably, one P.O. is supplied for each PV panel, and they would preferably be tuned for each panel, meaning different panels would result in differently- tuned P.O.s. If the panels are very different and maximum performance is desired, then tuning the P.O.s separately will produce the best results. A major issue is that the CC/Inverter has no way to manage a group of panels efficiently (even if the group size is only 2) when there is shading and that shading exacerbates system degradation due to panel cell organization. When providing a group of panels without tuned P.O.s, the CC/Inverter will operate that group at a single MPP, but unless each panel is identical and has identical solar insolation, they will all have different MPPs resulting in an array being operated at less than optimum power transfer. Therefore, tuned P.O.s according to embodiments of the invention are preferred for achieving operation at optimum power transfer from an array.
[0180] Certain embodiments may be described as a utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising, consisting essentially of, or consisting of: a pole; multiple power sources comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole, and a flat PV panel mounted on the pole, wherein the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel each output power having different electrical characteristics; an electrical load device connected to the pole; an energy storage unit (ESU) provided on, in or near the pole; a charge controller (CC) operatively connecting said wrapped PV panel and said flat panel to the ESU, and the charge controller comprising maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and CC-input specifications defined by said charge controller MPPT; a first power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller and a second power optimizer (P.O.) between the flat PV panel and the charge controller; wherein said first and second power optimizers are each tuned differently, to receive the output power having different electrical characteristics from the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel, respectively, and to each provide power to the charge controller consistent with said CC-input specifications. Said wrapped PV panel and the flat panel output power may have one or more different electrical characteristics selected from the group consisting of open-circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Isc), maximum power point current (Imp), and maximum power point voltage (Vmp), thermal coefficient of power, thermal coefficient of Voc, and thermal coefficient of Isc, and the first and second power optimizers each being tuned comprises changing firmware of each of the first P.O. and second P.O. to adjust performance of each P.O. to said one or more different electrical characteristics. Said first and second power optimizers being each tuned differently may comprise the first power optimizer and second power optimizer each being adapted to change said output power having different
J l electrical characteristics to fall within said CC-input specifications selected from the group consisting of: Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage (voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp"), and the Maximum Input Power. The PV panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that, in the northern hemisphere, one of the two columns is on a generally eastern side of the pole and the other of the two columns is on a generally western side of the pole. The two columns are preferably electrically connected in parallel. Said first power optimizer is preferably connected in series between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller and said second power optimizer is preferably connected in series between the flat PV panel and the charge controller. The first and second power optimizers may each comprise power optimizer MPPT algorithms, and said tuning may comprise altering settings of said power optimizer MPPT algorithms of the first and second optimizers. The electrical load device may be a luminaire. Or, the electrical load device may be selected from a group consisting of: a luminaire, a light emitting diode (LED), an HID light source, a fluorescent light source, a mercury vapor light source, a gas light source, a glow discharge light source, a solid state light, an organic-compound light-emitting light, an OLED light source, a security device, a camera, a security camera, an audio recorder, a video recorder, a wireless network radio, an antenna, a low bandwidth radio, a high bandwidth radio, a radio transmitting in multiple bandwidths, a WIFI modem, a wireless transceiver, an alarm, an electronic sign, an electronic display, a power line communication modem that enables two-way communications over power line electrical wires, emergency call box or button, two-way voice transmitter; a Wi-fi access point, a sound sensor, an environmental sensor, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, an air quality sensor, and a sensor of one or more air pollutants. The certain embodiments described above in this paragraph may have an inverter generally in the place of the charge controller, and such embodiments and modifications for the inverter (compared to charge controller) will be understood from this document/disclosure.
[0181] Certain embodiments may be described as: a solar-powered utility unit including power optimization, the utility unit comprising: a utility pole; multiple PV panels on the pole and having multiple different electrical characteristics selected from the group consisting of: open- circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Isc), maximum power point current (Imp), and maximum power point voltage (Vmp), thermal coefficient of power, thermal coefficient of Voc, and thermal coefficient of Isc; a charge controller or inverter (CC/inverter) having input specifications comprising Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage (voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp"), and the Maximum Input Power; and multiple power optimizers connected between each of the PV panels and the CC/inverter, and wherein each power optimizer comprises firmware tuned to said multiple electrical characteristics of a respective PV panel and tuned to said input- specifications of the CC/inverter.
[0182] Certain embodiments may be described as: a utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising: a pole; at least one power source comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole; and a charge controller adapted to receive power from the wrapped PV panel and to charge an electrical load device connected to the pole; wherein the wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that one of the two columns has at least a shaded portion in the morning and the other of the columns has at least a shaded portion in the evening, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel for limiting voltage sinking when said at least a portion of each of the columns is shaded in the morning or afternoon. The utility system may further comprise a tuned power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller, wherein said tuned P.O. is tuned to the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller specifications.
[0183] Certain embodiments may be described as: a utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising: a pole; at least one power source comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole; and
an inverter connected to the pole and adapted to receive power from the wrapped PV panel and to send power to a utility electrical grid; wherein the wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that one of the two columns has at least a shaded portion in the morning and the other of the columns has at least a shaded portion in the evening, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel for limiting voltage sinking when said at least a portion of each of the columns is shaded in the morning or afternoon.
The system may further comprise a tuned power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the inverter, wherein said tuned P.O. is tuned to the wrapped PV panel and the inverter specifications.
[0184] Certain embodiments have been described herein mainly in terms of apparatus, while other embodiments have been described herein mainly in terms of methods. Those of skill in the art will recognize that methods of using the apparatus and/or methods of providing the apparatus and/or using the control actions, controller adaptations, utility services, diagnostics, overriding techniques, and/or cooperated activities to accomplish the disclosed results and/or other results, are included as embodiments of the invention and may be claimed as such.
[0185] Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to one of skill in the art after reading this disclosure and viewing the drawings. Although this invention is described herein and in the drawings with reference to particular means, methods, materials and embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these disclosed particulars, but extends instead to all equivalents within the broad scope of the following claims.

Claims

1. A utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising:
a pole;
multiple power sources comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole, and a flat PV panel mounted on the pole, wherein the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel each output power having different electrical characteristics;
an electrical load device connected to the pole;
an energy storage unit (ESU) provided on, in or near the pole;
a charge controller (CC) operatively connecting said wrapped PV panel and said flat panel to the ESU, and the charge controller comprising maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and CC-input specifications defined by said charge controller MPPT;
a first power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller and a second power optimizer (P.O.) between the flat PV panel and the charge controller;
wherein said first and second power optimizers are each tuned differently, to receive the output power having different electrical characteristics from the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel, respectively, and to each provide power to the charge controller consistent with said CC- input specifications.
2. A system as in Claim 1, wherein said wrapped PV panel and the flat panel output power have one or more different electrical characteristics selected from the group consisting of open- circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Isc), maximum power point current (Imp), and maximum power point voltage (Vmp), thermal coefficient of power, thermal coefficient of Voc, and thermal coefficient of Isc, and the first and second power optimizers each being tuned comprises changing firmware of each of the first P.O. and second P.O. to adjust performance of each P.O. to said one or more different electrical characteristics.
3. A system as in Claim 1, wherein said first and second power optimizers being each tuned differently comprises the first power optimizer and second power optimizer each being adapted to change said output power having different electrical characteristics to fall within said CC-input specifications selected from the group consisting of: Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage (voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp"), and the Maximum Input Power.
4. A system as in Claim 1, wherein the PV panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that, in the northern hemisphere, one of the two columns is on a generally eastern side of the pole and the other of the two columns is on a generally western side of the pole.
5. A system as in Claim 4, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel.
6. A system as in Claim 1, wherein said first power optimizer is connected in series between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller and wherein said second power optimizer is connected in series between the flat PV panel and the charge controller.
7. A system as in Claim 1, wherein the first and second power optimizers each comprise power optimizer MPPT algorithms, and said tuning comprises altering settings of said power optimizer MPPT algorithms of the first and second optimizers.
8. A system as in Claim 7, wherein the electrical load device is a luminaire.
9. A system as in Claim 7, wherein the electrical load device is selected from a group consisting of: a luminaire, a light emitting diode (LED), an HID light source, a fluorescent light source, a mercury vapor light source, a gas light source, a glow discharge light source, a solid state light, an organic-compound light-emitting light, an OLED light source, a security device, a camera, a security camera, an audio recorder, a video recorder, a wireless network radio, an antenna, a low bandwidth radio, a high bandwidth radio, a radio transmitting in multiple bandwidths, a WIFI modem, a wireless transceiver, an alarm, an electronic sign, an electronic display, a power line communication modem that enables two-way communications over power line electrical wires, emergency call box or button, two-way voice transmitter; a Wi-fi access point, a sound sensor, an environmental sensor, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, an air quality sensor, and a sensor of one or more air pollutants.
10. A utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising:
a pole;
multiple power sources comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole, and a flat PV panel mounted on the pole, wherein the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel each output power having different electrical characteristics;
an electrical load device connected to the pole;
an inverter adapted to supply power from the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel to an electrical utility grid, the inverter comprising maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and inverter-input specifications defined by said inverter MPPT;
a first power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the inverter and a second power optimizer between the flat PV panel and the inverter;
wherein said first and second power optimizers are each tuned differently, to receive the output power having different electrical characteristics from the wrapped PV panel and the flat PV panel, respectively, and to provide power to the inverter consistent with said inverter-input specifications.
11. A system as in Claim 10, wherein said wrapped PV panel and the flat panel output power have one or more different electrical characteristics selected from the group consisting of open- circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Isc), maximum power point current (Imp), and maximum power point voltage (Vmp), thermal coefficient of power, thermal coefficient of Voc, and thermal coefficient of Isc.
12. A system as in Claim 10, wherein said first and second power optimizers being each tuned differently comprises the first power optimizer and second power optimizer each being adapted to change said output power having different electrical characteristics to fall within said inverter- input specifications selected from the group consisting of: Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage (voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the CC/inverter, "Vmp"), and the Maximum Input Power.
13. A system as in Claim 10, wherein the PV panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that, in the northern hemisphere, one of the two columns is on a generally eastern side of the pole and the other of the two columns is on a generally western side of the pole.
14. A system as in Claim 13, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel.
15. A system as in Claim 10, wherein said first power optimizer is connected in series between the wrapped PV panel and the inverter and wherein said second power optimizer is connected in series between the flat PV panel and the inverter.
16. A system as in Claim 10, wherein the first and second power optimizers each comprise power optimizer MPPT algorithms, and said tuning comprises altering settings of said power optimizer MPPT algorithms of the first and second optimizers.
17. A system as in Claim 16, wherein the electrical load device is a luminaire.
18. A system as in Claim 16, wherein the electrical load device is selected from a group consisting of: a luminaire, a light emitting diode (LED), an HID light source, a fluorescent light source, a mercury vapor light source, a gas light source, a glow discharge light source, a solid state light, an organic-compound light-emitting light, an OLED light source, a security device, a camera, a security camera, an audio recorder, a video recorder, a wireless network radio, an antenna, a low bandwidth radio, a high bandwidth radio, a radio transmitting in multiple bandwidths, a WIFI modem, a wireless transceiver, an alarm, an electronic sign, an electronic display, a power line communication modem that enables two-way communications over power line electrical wires, emergency call box or button, two-way voice transmitter; a Wi-fi access point, a sound sensor, an environmental sensor, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, an air quality sensor, and a sensor of one or more air pollutants.
19. A solar-powered utility unit including power optimization, the utility unit comprising: a utility pole;
multiple PV panels on the pole and having multiple different electrical characteristics selected from the group consisting of: open-circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Isc), maximum power point current (Imp), and maximum power point voltage (Vmp), thermal coefficient of power, thermal coefficient of Voc, and thermal coefficient of Isc;
a charge controller or inverter (CC/inverter) having input specifications comprising Maximum Open Circuit Voltage ("Max Voc"), Maximum Short Circuit Current ("Max Isc"), the Maximum Power Point Voltage (voltage at which maximum power is delivered by the
CC/inverter, "Vmp"), and the Maximum Input Power;
multiple power optimizers connected between each of the PV panels and the CC/inverter, and wherein each power optimizer comprises firmware tuned to said multiple electrical characteristics of a respective PV panel and tuned to said input- specifications of the CC/inverter.
20. A utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising:
a pole;
at least one power source comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole; and
a charge controller adapted to receive power from the wrapped PV panel and to charge an electrical load device connected to the pole;
wherein the wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that one of the two columns has at least a shaded portion in the morning and the other of the columns has at least a shaded portion in the evening, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel for limiting voltage sinking when said at least a portion of each of the columns is shaded in the morning or afternoon.
21. A utility system as in Claim 20, further comprising a tuned power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller, wherein said tuned P.O. is tuned to the wrapped PV panel and the charge controller specifications.
22. A utility system for powering at least one electrical load device, the utility system comprising at least one utility unit comprising:
a pole;
at least one power source comprising a wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel curved at least part way around a generally vertical surface of the pole; and
an inverter connected to the pole and adapted to receive power from the wrapped PV panel and to send power to a utility electrical grid;
wherein the wrapped photovoltaic (PV) panel comprises two columns that are vertical on the pole, and a seam between the two columns, wherein the seam is located on the pole to generally face the sun at noonday so that one of the two columns has at least a shaded portion in the morning and the other of the columns has at least a shaded portion in the evening, wherein the two columns are electrically connected in parallel for limiting voltage sinking when said at least a portion of each of the columns is shaded in the morning or afternoon.
23. A utility system as in Claim 22, further comprising a tuned power optimizer (P.O.) between the wrapped PV panel and the inverter, wherein said tuned P.O. is tuned to the wrapped PV panel and the inverter specifications.
PCT/US2013/038075 2012-04-25 2013-04-24 Optimization of energy generation from a wrapped photovoltaic panel WO2013163350A1 (en)

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CN104038368B (en) * 2014-05-15 2015-02-25 国家电网公司 Device alarm full-data notification system and method for electric-power communication network
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WO2015183631A1 (en) * 2014-05-30 2015-12-03 Bridwell Randolph Earl Charge controller with wired or wireless communications network
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CN111414036B (en) * 2020-03-10 2022-01-18 上海空间电源研究所 Device and method for controlling MPPT (maximum power point tracking) of power supply system for satellite
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