An esoteric smart-grid technology is gaining prominence as expanded solar capacity poses new challenges to utilities and grid operators. Advanced inverters, or smart inverters, are sophisticated versions of the devices long used to convert the direct current output of solar panels into the alternating current used by consumers across the electrical grid. Whereas traditional inverters are programmed to shut off during disturbances on the electrical grid, advanced inverters can continue to operate and even assist in smoothing out an increasingly variable grid. Only a handful of U.S. states make significant use of this emerging technology, but that’s changing as electricity standards and procedures are updated to reflect a modernizing industry. Learn more here.
Photo: A worker installs an inverter on a solar project in Lakewood, California. Many inverters already have “smart” functionality installed but switched off by default. Credit: Michelle Gerdes / Creative Commons
Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed “part deux” of his master plan for the company in a Wednesday blog post, outlining a vision to expand Tesla’s vehicle offerings and network them with rooftop solar and residential batteries . . . The acquisition of Tesla’s sister company SolarCity will allow Tesla to “create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works,” Musk wrote, “empowering the individual as their own utility.” Read more here.