Sales have tripled for a key component for solar electric systems at one of the largest suppliers in the United States.
ARLINGTON, Washington – Xantrex Technology Inc. manufactures the Trace(TM) brand of inverters that allow customers to generate their own electricity from solar photovoltaic panels and small wind turbines, and to maintain a link to their local utility grid. The inverter allows the DC energy from a renewable energy facility to convert to AC power, and offers a number of technical features to ensure quality of the power. “The country’s power and transmission industries are ripe for a revolution,” says Ron Pitt of Xantrex. “With soaring power prices and uncertain service, residential and industrial customers are racing to investigate alternatives. There’s a growing realization that it’s both environmentally responsible and cost-effective to generate independent power.” Xantrex is the largest manufacturer in the world of advanced power conversion products for independent renewable energy systems. More than 200,000 sites use the company’s renewable energy products as their source of primary or backup power. Inverters are essential components to enable the use of distributed generation, and allow customers to have independent power while maintaining a tie to the grid so that excess power can be sold back to the utility. “That means that sometimes the electric meter runs backwards, and power costs can be cut dramatically,” says Pitt. Half the states in the U.S. have legislation on net metering which requires utilities to purchase power that is generated by residential and small commercial sites. Many utilities directly support the installation of grid-tied systems, including the cost shared program at Sacramento Municipal Utility District which now is responsible for the generation of 1.5 MW from rooftop solar units. Not only do small solar and wind systems help to stabilize power prices, they also eases the strain on transmission lines by shaving the peak power demands from utilities. The California Energy Commission offers cash rebates of up to 50 percent for renewable systems installed by residential customers. The growing acceptance of interconnection depends on the acceptance of new standards that overcome resistance to the wide use of renewable energy sources on the public grid. “Certification to these standards is significant because it guarantees the compatibility of our grid interactive products with the utility infrastructure,” adds Pitt. Xantrex is a private company that manufactures advanced power controls with products from 50 watts to 1 megawatt. It has annual revenue of US$115 million and its products are sold under the Trace, Statpower, Heart and Xantrex brands to customers that include Astropower, Ballard Power, BP Solar, Cisco, Compaq, Enron, Kyocera, Plug Power, Siemens and Sun Microsystems.