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How meeco designs and develops its solar energy storage solutions
by Staff Writers
Zug, Switzerland (SPX) Dec 14, 2015

File image.

Solar energy is a clean and reliable power source. But unfortunately the sun does not shine 24 hours a day and therefore access to sunlight is limited in the morning and in the evening and of course at night. In order to offset this drawback, The meeco Group - a Swiss-based clean energy provider - deployed its solar energy management solution sun2safe, a system pairing solar power with solar storage technology, guaranteeing the stability of the electricity supply and thus solving the issue coming from intermittent sunshine.

Using his distinct engineering background for evaluating and working on advanced energy storage methods, Claudio Alberti - Director of meeco Services Italia S.r.l. - is in charge of the worldwide power conversion and energy storage projects at meeco. In parallel, his position includes the local supervision and management of the international operations of the Italian subsidiary, which has been already established in 2008.

Ever since, the Italian team has contributed and supported the realization of over 200 MWp worldwide via technical and advisory services as well as supervision and construction of over 70 MWp. This successful achievement of particularly large-scale solar photovoltaic power projects owe their existence to the subsidiary headed by Claudio Alberti.

You are responsible for the development of energy storage systems. Could you reveal the launching of The meeco Group's solar energy management system sun2safe?

I realized the first power management system model in 2009. At that time, the purpose was to apply the concept of hybrid cars to stationary energy systems powered by a diesel generator, in order to save fuel and reduce the engine wear by supplying solar energy and storing the excess power for the period of time when photovoltaic power was not available.

The system paid back in a very short time and gave me the idea to go deeper, enhance it and convert it into an all-in-one converter/inverter central energy management system. After determining the selection of top-tier components and making a further refinement of the original concept, we now already brought the third sun2safe generation to market.

This has a strengthened performance in Internet monitoring and devices, which ensures returns on investment in an even shorter period of time. The sun2safe hybrid converters are currently in operation in Italy, Pakistan, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and India providing the users with virtual energy independence from the grid or diesel generators. Ireland and the Caribbean Islands will be our next targets through the deployment of several sun2safe installations.

Italy, Pakistan, Mauritius, India... meeco - as a global company - is present all over the world. How many languages do you speak and do you have to face issues regarding intercultural differences?

I am a native Italian speaker, but I am using English everyday workplace activities, as this language is the key for global communication. I understand Spanish and French as well. Since we are present in more than 15 countries, cultural differences and culture-linked points of view represent a real challenge to face. Experience has shown that people from different countries and therefore from different cultures approach one and the same issue in a completely diverse way.

What are your main responsibilities and daily missions as the Country Manager of meeco Services Italia S.r.l.?

Managers' tasks include everything that is needed for the well being of the company. Reactivity and multitasking should therefore be in their DNA. Personally, I constantly strive to use those skills, as I have to coordinate all operations related to the subsidiary's activities and the clients projects, such as preparing quotations, supporting the operational team technically, following the installation of our renewable energy solutions and finally interacting with the customers.

What was the project you enjoyed the most working on?

The project I probably enjoyed the most was Carlino, a 25 MWp project commissioned in 2011 and based on a single-axis tracking system. This project ranks among the biggest solar projects in Europe and is the largest PV park built where meeco was the critical driving force so far. The installation is still showing remarkable performance, with an actual yield well above the designed amount.

The solar module implemented was a SunCarrier tracked grid-connected energy solution, achieving at least 30 per cent additional performance versus a standard fixed installation. My tasks included the setting-up of the agreement with the developers and the entire project validation procedure from a technical, legal and economic point of view. By the same token, interfacing with the Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) company and preparing brochures for the investors have been equally important in order to ensure the fulfillment of the mission.

Further, I followed from close the licensing process, witnessing the meetings at the Regional authority. Finding a reliable supplier for the steel constructions and guiding the construction together with the developers have been assignments carried out under my responsibility as well.

However, those tasks implied severe obstacles, which could have jeopardized the project's successful execution. In order to achieve the project objectives and provide the client with the best services and custom-made solutions that properly achieve the intended outcomes, I had to employ my many years' market experience - and far beyond these - I and learned a lot in fields I was not particularly familiar with.

Do you currently have a project going on?

A lot of new projects are launching, especially the engineering and supply of hybrid converters. At the moment, my most challenging and most important task is the implementation of the new generation of the portable solar power system sun2go and the energy management system sun2safe in India.

Those important launches imply travelling back and forth for meetings with local partners, technical evaluation, project reviews, manufacturing process checks, training local engineers to our standards and needs for the worldwide market.

For this particular mission, I am closely working with my colleague Tarun Munjal - the Managing Director of the subsidiary meeco India Pvt. Ltd. Together, we have recently supported a local school in India achieving the goal of independence from diesel through the environmentally friendly use of renewable resources.

Solar energy is booming in emerging markets such as India or Pakistan, but what future opportunities will arise for the solar energy sector in the Italian market?

The current legislative context in Italy does not facilitate the development of the photovoltaic solar energy sector. In fact, retroactive tariff reductions have been recently implemented and therefore harm new private investment. This is why, I am currently mainly working on hybrid projects focused on international expansion and especially conducted in developing countries, where populations are facing looming energy scarcity.

Do you have a personal motto that drives you in the execution of your daily work?

"Success is 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration." - Thomas A. Edison. Constant perseverance and patience are essential in order to prosper and to spur yourself to overcome barriers and achieve performance targets. Hard work is the only source of success.

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