User guide monitoring PV diesel hybrid systems

This simple monitoring and evaluation guideline for PV-diesel hybrid systems allows operators to understand if their system is operated in a way that ensures long lifetime (e.g. extending the battery lifetime for several years). It gives suggestions on how to act if there are signs of unfavourable use or failure. The suggested maintenance routines and evaluation of obtained data help to detect system failures and thus to lower subsequent harming of the system. The guideline helps to understand the relations between different parameters in a system, where and how energy is generated and consumed and whether the system is working at full capacity, over capacity or if it has capacity to handle even more load. The guideline is mainly applicable to systems which basically consist of: any type of PV system, one or several liquid-fuelled and manually (or automatically) operated generators, lead acid batteries of 12 V, 24 V or 48 V, charge controller of series type, DC or AC or mixed type of distribution network and the system being located in a tropical or sub-tropical environment at low latitude. For a successful evaluation of the system, the mainly following parameters have to be monitored on a daily basis (evaluation also monthly and yearly): battery voltage, energy from PV, energy from generator, energy to AC load, energy to DC load and fuel consumption (optional).

The application of the guide requires little technical equipment, but daily manual measurements. For the most part, it can be managed by pen and paper, by people with no earlier experience of power systems. The guide targets users with no, or limited, earlier experience of power engineering. Although measuring equipment should only be installed by a professional electrician, the subsequent readings, data registration and evaluation can be done by the operator using the explanations given in the guideline. In general, the guideline is less detailed in terms of motivations for certain choices and limitations, but rich in details concerning calculations, evaluation procedures and maintenance routines. A more scientific description of the guide can be found in a related journal article.

After introduction and summary, the guideline starts with a general description of PV-diesel hybrid systems and their key components. This chapter also explains on the energy balance of the whole system and advises on operation and maintenance routines. The third chapter aims at electricians by explaining on how to install the measurement equipment and what the electrician should explain to the user of the guideline. The fourth chapter explains how to take measurements, and how to enter values in tables and graphs. The fifth and sixth chapter elaborate on short term evaluation routines and suggestions for actions when needed and long term evaluation including further calculations as well as evaluations to be carried out monthly and yearly. Chapter 7 provides suggestions on what to do in the case of a black out. The afterword finally explains the forum in which the guideline has been developed. The appendix gives templates for tables and graphs.