First resort in the Serengeti to run entirely on solar electricity with MG batteries

In Tanzania’s Serengeti on top of a hill you’ll find Lahia Tented Lodge, a brand new luxury resort with a magnificent view. Equally amazing is the fact that it’s the first accommodation in Africa’s best safari park to run entirely on solar electricity. Not just for heating water and burning lights, but the whole place, from the giant pumps supplying fresh water, up to the equipment for the infinity pool.

No more diesel generators using over a hundred liters of fuel each day, exhausting noise and toxic fumes, but an advanced off-grid large-scale eco-friendly solar system. A plant of 488 panels harvests energy during the day to power the entire property and load a bank of 20 MG HE Series lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 150 kWh to keep providing energy, long after the sun sets on the Serengeti.

It’s our first system to run in parallel redundant mode, which means several strings of batteries are connected in parallel and set up to control the Victron inverter/chargers through a digital link. Even in the event one battery string should fail, the installation will keep on running on the remaining ones. In case of an emergency or maintenance a back-up generator will seamlessly kick in.

It’s a proof of concept for the tourist industry that it can be done and this is how. While small solar systems are in wide use, most of them store their energy in lead-acid battery banks, which are limited in (dis)charge capacity. Put to heavy use in tough condition like these they only last a few years. This lithium-ion system is strong enough to power an entire off-grid tourist resort for at least a decade or more.

This system was commissioned in close cooperation with Anco van Bergeijk and our local dealer Gadgetronix.

 

Components used

Cruise completely silent and emissions-free in an eco-tender with MG batteries

Imagine you’re the very happy owner of a 50m Perini Navi sailing yacht, but over the years your needs have evolved. It’s not so much that you want a bigger boat, you’re longing for flexible cabin space for your guests and something more than a conventional RIB (rigid inflatable boat) to explore closer inshore to pursue your hobby of nature photography.

You purchase a vessel with the same graceful looks, quality feel and luxurious comfort as the mother ship, that provides additional accommodation and can operate independently as a 25m extension of your sailing yacht. It’s no ordinary tender, it’s an eco-tender, designed and built with a super yacht mentality with amenities and technologies to match.

For one, it comes with a sophisticated hybrid propulsion system developed by Siemens, which provides four operational modes:

  • Diesel mode: twin MAN diesel engines (2 x 1213 kW) power two Hamilton waterjets for a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots.
  • Hybrid mode: one engine drives its neighbouring waterjet and also serves as a generator for an e-motor to power the other waterjet.
  • Diesel-electric mode: a 130 kW generator supplies electricity for two e-motors to drive the waterjets.
  • Zero-emission mode: a 2 x 70 kWh MG RS Series battery bank powers both waterjets via the e-motors at around 8 knots for up to an hour.

Although close attention has been paid to minimising noise in all propulsion modes and keep contractual sound levels below 55dB throughout, it’s the last mode that allows you to cruise at low speed in marine parks or other environmentally sensitive areas, completely silent and emissions-free. Honestly, what more could you possible want?

 

Components used

  • 2 x MAN 1213 kW diesel engines
  • 2 x Siemens 150kW electric motor
  • 1 x Siemens Custom 135 kW generator
  • 2 x Hamilton HM531 waterjet
  • 2 x 10 RS Series battery modules (2 x 70 kWh)
  • 1 x MG Master HV

 

 

 

Preserving Venice by boarding a hybrid vaporetto with MG’s batteries

When visiting the beautiful city of Venice there are to ways to get around: on foot or by water. In case the former is no option, a vaporetto is the way to go. It’s Italian for water bus and a large fleet makes up a public transport network for the city and province, transferring hundreds and thousands of passengers each day, from the mainland across the lagoon, through the canals and to the nearby islands.

The increase of tourists and therefor transportation has a dangerous impact on the delicate environment of the lagoon in general and the canals in particular, with many precious historic buildings on their banks. The constant navigation and frequent manoeuvring generates a lot of waves and washing water, which in turn leads to progressive erosion of their foundations, draining them of sand and clay.

Operating conditions of a vaporetto are very particular. Due to the many stops, congested traffic, varying speed limits and timetable optimisation their navigation pattern show high acceleration and deceleration performances. The heavy sequence of stop-an-go transitions requires a very irregular power supply. When supplied directly by a generator, this would lead to high diesel consumption and high exhaust emissions.

Enter Liuto: an acronym for Low Impact Urban Transport water Omnibus. It’s a vaporetto with a low resistance hull and a hybrid energy solution, designed around two decades ago. The 300kW Siemens propulsion system used to be powered by lead-acid battery pack, which in turn was charged by a diesel generator running at constant speed. This way the engine could operate at its optimum efficiency level, minimising fuel consumption, pollutant emissions, vibrations and noise.

At the time the hydrodynamic impact was reduced by the optimised hull and propeller, while the hybrid energy solution was a good compromise between technical, economic and environmental requirements. Recently its lead-acid battery bank has been upgraded to MG’s RS batteries, two strings of eight modules each, controlled by a HV Master. Together they operate as peak power supply and energy buffer, under very high but short charge/discharge power levels.

This is what our RS Series excel at. Compared to traditional lead-acid batteries these lithium-ion modules can take in and push out a large amount of power in a short time. Liquid thermal management keeps the battery cells on temperature, to improve performance and extend cycle life. A redundant BMS, a unique cell-to-cell propagation protection and a built-in fire suppression mechanism take safety to the next level. As an added advantage they’re compact and lightweight.

Compared to steel or aluminium vessels with traditional propulsion systems Liuto is a beautiful example of a more efficient, more economic and more ecological solution even in a challenging application such as urban water transport. It generates less wave motion pollution, less air pollution and increases comfort for all passengers. Now it’s ready to serve another decade while protecting the delicate and valuable context of Venice and its lagoon, for both tourist and inhabitants alike.

Components used

Sealegs charges into the future with amphibious craft on renewable energy

Sealegs is a world leaders in amphibious crafts, designed and developed to take all the hassle out of boat launching and retrieval. The system simply drives from a storage location, down a boat ramp or beach and into the water. Once afloat, the wheels lift up out of the water to be stored against the hull, and the boat is used as normal.

The company has been driving the amphibious boating revolution since its start in 2001. The very first versions had electric motors driving the wheels, while across the rest of its models hydraulic propulsion is powered by a petrol engine. But the E4 combines high-torque brushless electric motors with MG’s high density 7kWh lithium battery technology. In many ways it may be the best Sealegs craft yet.

Without a petrol engine roaring the E4 is quieter, but runs faster and longer than conventional models. With a standard 150hp outboard it achieves 40 knots, while it drives for around 1.5 hours on a land, depending on speed, load and terrain. Performance is further increased by regenerative braking and outboard charging. All the usual safety features, such as emergency braking, are included.

Without having to accommodate a petrol engine, there’s more flexibility to house the 51 V 7 kWh lithium ion battery, which takes four to five hours to fully recharge, by simply plugging it into a 240 V mains supply. The outboard also feeds the battery via the VSR and a PowrFlow step-up charger, as does the regenerative braking system. Solar power is another option. All systems are connected to a central Naviop display which supports MG’s battery systems to show battery status.

Combining of the latest battery and motor technology quite possibly represents the future of amphibious boating. “The release of the Electric E4 takes Sealegs’ global leadership position in amphibious technology to the next level,” according to Founder and Chief Technology Officer Maurice Bryham. “We have made our amphibious system 33% faster, 60% quieter and 50% more powerful.”

Components used

Loodswezen saves weight by replacing lead acid battery banks by MG’s High Power alternative

Loodswezen‘s maritime pilots make sure sea-going ships enter and exit their ports as safely and efficiently as possible. Day and night. Under any circumstance. The highly trained crew assists over 90 000 vessels a year in their voyage to and from Dutch and Flemish seaports on the Scheldt River and is on call 24 hours a day.

Tenders are used for embarkation and disembarkation as well as transporting the pilots smoothly and securely. Normally these very manoeuvrable boats come equipped with large and heavy lead-acid battery banks in order to deliver energy for propulsion and onboard service systems.

However, in close cooperation with MG a unique and innovative systems has been installed, consisting of 4 compact, light yet highly powerful battery modules, strong enough to deliver the peak capacity needed to start both engines and keep all systems running.

The entire system weighs only 100 kg, which is 3 times less than the traditional lead acid battery banks. Yet it complies with Loodswezen’s high standards of safety and efficiency. But most importantly, the tenders run fast, quietly and conveniently.

Thus the project illustrates how a  successful cooperation results in a sustainable industrial application.

Components used

Engine starting systems, 24 V (twofold)

Service system, 24 V

Supply & installation

This system is supplied and installed by our partner Alewijnse Marine.

Silent 55 sails free at sea with solar power and storage by MG

A growing number of luxury yachts is hybrid-electric. Some are even equipped with solar panels or power banks, but as these generally don’t provide enough energy to power both onboard systems and propulsion, most still rely on burning fossil fuels at least to some degree.

But that’s about to change. Enter Silent 55, the newest cruising catamaran by Silent Yachts, that relies nearly entirely on solar energy. No toxic exhaust, no noise from generators and no excessive vibrations from diesel engines. It’s virtually self-sufficient and maintenance-free.

The 55-foot vessel comes outfitted with 30 high-efficiency solar panels with a power output of around 9 kW. Using charge controllers this energy is stored in 28 high-energy Litium-Ion batteries to power both onboard amenities (through a 15 kVa inverter) as well as a its silent electric propulsion system.

The entire installation includes 2 systems, each consisting of 1 MG High Voltage Master and 14 MG High Energy Battery Modules, configured in series to achieve a system capacity of 2 x 70 kWh. Unique in this application is the unusually high system voltage of 400 VDC, while the setup is very compact and weighs only 2 x 400 kg.

A generator is on board for rough weather or emergencies, but the Silent 55 meant to cruise for weeks on end. Carefree.

Components used

2 systems, each consisting of:

Windcat Workboat sets a new standard for efficiency with batteries by MG

Windcat Workboats is Europe’s leading provider of specialist crew transfer vessels to offshore wind power industry. These high speed crafts are operated on a daily basis to ferry technicians and other personnel to and from installations in North West Europe, from the UK to Denmark and Germany.

The small yet fast catamarans are optimised to guarantee excellent quality of service, enabling the crew to perform their work offshore without delay, in a reliable and comfortable way. When it comes to operational safety the company is committed to the highest standards for international projects.

Windcat 41 is the latest addition to its fleet. This state of the art vessel, carrying 26 technicians, was built according to the latest technologies, rules and regulations. In order to comply with the industry’s energy reduction goals, while simultaneously meeting ever-increasing demands for higher comfort and performance, the 23 meter vessel was radically optimised in terms of hull design and – in stead of conventional batteries – outfitted with MG’s lithium-ion equivalents, due to their superior energy density.

The result surpassed all expectations. High performance, at a top speed of 31 knots using only two 720kW engines, with low fuel consumption and low emissions, stating a reduction of up to 40% compared to conventional designs. Which also yields a saving in costs. Thus the Wincat 41 sets a new industry standard for efficiency.

A total of four energy systems were installed, for emergency, service (twofold) and radio. Work on installing a similar setup on the next vessel is already underway. While MG’s energy systems are often used on luxurious super yachts, this projects shows they’re strong enough to perform on industrial workboats too.

Components used

Emergency system

Service systems (twofold)

Radio system

Supply, installation & certification

This system is supplied and installed by our partner Alewijnse Marine and certified by DNV-GL.

Pagani’s fast cruiser Mister A is powered by MG’s batteries

Aldo Pagini’s Mister A is everything you might imagine, when you think of a fast cruiser: a highly researched, technological and stylish 20-meter long sailing yacht that delivers top performance in great comfort. And not just for leisure and pleasure: it even steered to victory in the cruising division of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2004.

When it comes to the design, the materials are of special interest. A pre-impregnated vacuum-treated carbon fibre is used for the construction of both hull and deck, as well as the interior structures and even furnishings, in order to guarantee low weight and maximum strength. Yet it features everything you’ll need to enjoy your sailing trip in total relaxation.

So when it comes to batteries MG’s energy system is a perfect fit: low weight, low volume, yet superior high energy density.

Components used

Supply

This system is supplied by our dealer Asea Nautica.

Solar airplanes: future or reality?

Are solar airplanes reality?

Flying a commercial passenger airplane from point A to B takes a huge amount of energy and power. If these demands were translated to a sustainable solution based on current technology by replacing kerosene with batteries, the weight would be much higher and more surface would be needed (or more efficient solar cells) to yield sufficient energy.

So it may not be possible for commercial passenger flights yet, but there are several initiatives to prove that solar powered electric airplanes are indeed the future.

One example is the famous SolarImpulse initiative that aims to fly around world on solar energy. The Solar Stratos project takes it even one step further, demonstrating the potential use of renewable energy by taking on the challenge of flying a solar powered electric airplane all the way to the stratosphere (altitude of 20 km).

Apart from these special initiatives, there are a number of commercial manned and unmanned (drone) airplane projects with different goals. Google’s solar powered drone, for example, has the goal to spread internet all over the world, especially to remote areas. These so called atmospheric satellites also fly at an altitude of 20 km.

Solar energy

One thing alle these projects have in common is the need for solar energy to power their flight. This is where MG comes into play. The energy generated from a solar panel is only a small percentage of the available solar power, typically between 20% and 25%. On earth the average irradiation is around 1000 W/m2.

This means if a solar panel has an efficiency of 25% the generate solar power from the panel is 250 W per square meter. Because of the small amount of energy converted by the solar panel, it is important to convert this energy with the highest possible efficiency in order to use it for propulsion or charging batteries.

The Maximum Power Point Tracker (MPPT)

Converting solar power to charge batteries with the highest efficiency is one thing, but solar panels are not an ideal source of energy. Each solar panel has a so called IV-curve, demonstrating the relationship between current and voltage. Figure 1 shows a particular example.

The key to getting the maximum amount of energy from a solar panel is to ‘search’ for the Maximum Power Point, which is called ‘tracking’. A DC/DC convertor with a Tracking function is required to convert the energy from the solar panel to charge the battery or use it for propulsion. This type of converters is called Maximum Power Point Tracker (MPPT).

Figure 1

There are basically two types of MPPT’s: Boost (from a lower solar voltage to a higher battery voltage) and Buck (from a higher solar voltage to a lower battery voltage). The type of converter we developed is a Boost converter. The MG Solar MPPT is a highly efficient MPPT with a ultrafast tracking algorithm.

 

MG’s history of development

The development of our MPPT began when we started building a solar powered boat, to participates in several solar challenges all over the world. After successful usage in this project, it we further optimized the efficiency and Tracking algorithm.

Several other race participants noticed the existence of our converter, for example the TU Delft solar team, participating in the World solar challenge in Australia with their Nuna car

s. They tested their existing best MPPT and compared it to our newly developed one.

Upon concluding MG’s new MPPT had a higher efficiency, they began to use it in their solar cars. After their successful win, more and more teams took an interest.

Now over … teams use our Solar MPPT. Every team has their own configuration and the Solar MPPT’s are tailored to their needs.

It’s possible to customize on voltage range, maximum current, connections and CAN-Bus communication.

The use of MG Solar MPPT in Solar Airplanes
The use of our MG Solar MPPT for racing purposes was also noticed by several solar airplane initiatives. One of the companies, Elektra Solar, implemented it in their one seater solar airplane, to face ‘the challenge of stratospheric manned and unmanned flight with solar-powered and emission-free aircraft”.

MG’s Solar MPPT solution ensures the maximum energy yield from the solar panels while keeping the added weight as low as possible, as you can see on our product page.

Technical specification
Table 1 shows the specifications of the different configuration types now available. Note that customizations to meet your project specifications are possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information.

Technical specifications Industrial Solar Boat WSC-Si WSC-GaAs
Input voltage range *1 VIN 22 – 58 V 22 – 120 V 22 – 120 V
Output voltage range *1 VOUT 25 – 58 V 25 – 180 V 25 – 180 V
Output voltage limit VOUT_LIM Configurable *3
Input power range PIN 5 – 450 W *2 2 – 700 W 2 – 700 W
Input current range IIN_MAX 0.5 – 10 A 0.5 – 7 A 0.5 – 7 A 0.5 – 3 A
Input current limit IIN_LIM Configurable *3
Output to input ratio range *1 VOUT/VIN 1.0 – 3.5
Max. input forward current ( VIN > VOUT ) IFW_MAX 6 A
Peak efficiency ηe 98% 99%
Isolated CAN transceiver supply voltage CAN 10 – 58 V
Isolated CAN transceiver current draw ICAN 16 mA at 12 V
Off state current draw -IOUT_OFF 20 µA at 30 VOUT
50 µA at 60 VOUT
Weight    
Weight (approx.)   220 g 540 g 285 g
Environmental    
Operating temperature -20°C to +55°C
Relative humidity Max. 95%  (non-condensing)

Table 1

Solar airplanes in future

Even if we can’t fly a commercial passenger airplane yet, we are eager to see what tomorrow will bring and passionate to develop more technology to make the future a reality. If it’s up to us, rather sooner than later.

First hybrid yacht to cross the ocean relying on MG’s batteries

Solarwave 62 is the first hybrid yacht with electric propulsion to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The mighty cruiser built by Silent Yachts drove all the way from Spain to Miami, mainly powered by the sun. When necessary a generator gave support. Due to MG’s energy system it’s nearly self-sufficient, silent and emission-free, offering a whole new scale in reliability and luxury.

Last year MG Energy Systems established a partnership with Silent Yachts provide all energy systems to all their new yachts. ‘There are various types of lithium-batteries on the market. The brand we are using is they are best regarding liability, safety, performance, weight and life-span,’ Silent Yachts states. The Solarwave 62 is the first solar yacht equipped with MG’s lithium-ion batteries.

Lightweight superpower

The energy system provides a grand capacity of of 160 kWh and consists of 2 lithium-ion battery banks, weighing less than 1000 kg. With a system voltage of 48 V it powers four 22 kW electric motors used for propulsion, two 15 kW bow thrusters and 3 phase 230VAC hotel supply with three 10 kVA Quattro’s. It’s charged by solar panels and a 20 kW DC generator.

Redundant set-up

Because it’s paramount the system needs to be redundant, the battery banks are set up in parallel. Even if one battery bank should fail, it still provides energy to the complete propulsion system, although in this situation the power will be limited. This redundancy is realized by using only the functions of the Master LV’s and some additional I/O’s and programmable relays.

Autonomous running

Clever configuration enables autonomous running of charging/discharging and controls processes. Limits are set in case one battery bank should fail and/or is overloaded by discharge. The generator will automatically start when the battery bank is below 30% State-Of- Charge or when the current drawn from the battery is too high for a certain amount of time.

All status information from the battery banks is visible on Victron’s Color Control GX.

Components used

Supply & Installation

This system is supplied and installed by our partner Silent Yachts.