An Australian switchboard manufacturer specialising in sites with renewables and clean energy is expanding its ranges and capabilities to meet rising demand for batteries, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and microgrids.
In addition to manufacturing switchboards for sites with renewables, CleanTech Controls, headquartered in Tempe NSW, also provides protection testing, site and factory acceptance testing, and engineering services to assist in the complex process of integrating renewables into the grid.
“Clean energy is getting more complicated, with multiple sources, like batteries, solar, and dynamic loads like EVs, which means more complicated systems, and more technical requirements from grid operators for anyone looking to connect to the grid,” explains CleanTech Controls Managing Director, Steve Bell.
CleanTech Controls supplies switchboards Australia-wide, including main switchboards for sites which have commercial solar, solar farms, battery storage, and EV charging stations.
“It’s risky to connect to the grid if you don’t know what you’re doing, and grid operators are creating stricter requirements to reduce the risk for their customers. That’s where our expertise can really help,” says Steve.
“Grid applications and design engineering are often done in parallel, so someone who knows the requirements of the DNSP (Distributed Network Service Provider) can make sure you get it right first time,” he adds.
To meet the growing needs of the clean energy market, CleanTech Controls has introduced a range of standardised medium voltage switchboards, with a typical capacity of 5MW and all the required protection and switchgear to connect to the grid.
“These switchboards are usually for either solar or battery storage, but sometimes they can be for both at the same time. Because it’s so complex to connect these to the grid – and often the DNSP has control over the asset – we ensure all the right protection and programming is built in,” explains Steve.
“We are looking to continue to expand into community battery projects and those where we provide off-grid control with solar batteries and a generator to provide remote areas with standalone power,” he adds.
Standards raise the bar
Standards compliance is critical in the switchboard industry, and Steve says that the AS 61439 standard benefits the industry as a whole.
“With the introduction of the AS 61439 Standard – and the mandatory compliance of this standard in AS3000 – customers can expect higher levels of compliance, greater safety, and fewer issues. The reality is that most responsible Australian manufacturers were already meeting these standards, but making them official gets rid of the cowboys out there who aren’t interested in long-term quality,” says Steve.
“NESMA has always been a strong advocate for safety, and it’s a great place to discuss standards with likeminded industry leaders.”
NESMA has also provided an educational role for CleanTech Controls, which Steve praises as being a major benefit to the industry.
“NESMA provides great foresight about upcoming standards, including Service and Installation Rules (SIRs), which differ for each State. They also provide insightful presentations, such as one recently on temperature rise standards – you can’t get that kind of industry-wide overview anywhere else,” he says.