PV Diesel Hybrid Systems – 3 Popular Designs

With SMA’s Fuel Save Solution for large industrial applications, PV can be easily and efficiently integrated with diesel generation. The Sunny Tripower and Sunny Central inverters convert direct current from PV modules into alternating current and feed it into power supply systems. The SMA Fuel Save Controller intelligently manages the PV feed-in and diesel genset. The result: an achievement of up to 60 percent of PV-supplied electrical capacity compared to relying solely on an installed genset’s capacity.

The SMA Fuel Save Controller is saving diesel fuel and bringing stable, renewable electricity to parts of the world that have never had it before. It’s impact on the PV industry earned it recognition as a finalist for the highly coveted Photovoltaics award at this summer’s Intersolar Europe in Munich.

Here is a closer look at the three examples of the most-common system designs featuring the SMA Fuel Save Solution.

Grid or Genset1.     Grid and PV connected hybrid system including a genset backup supply: Cotton Mill, Palladam, India

Daily power outages, often lasting several hours, are commonplace in India’s federal state Tamil Nadu. For this reason, the Alpine Knits cotton mill located in Palladam had been using diesel gensets to ensure a reliable power supply for their production site—simply accepting the exorbitant operation expenses resulting from the gensets’ fuel consumption. When they decided to reduce their energy bills, mill operators invested in a PV diesel hybrid system with the photovoltaic system placed on the factory’s rooftop.

Since June, 2012 the SMA Fuel Save Solution has ensured reliable operation, even during grid failures. As the intelligent interface between PV system and diesel gensets, the Fuel Save Controller ensures a highly efficient power supply. During peak production hours, the PV system provides approximately 60 percent of the total power demand of the mill – representing a considerable cost savings to the business.

Grid plus Genset2. Grid and PV connected hybrid system including a genset main supply: Mine, Thabazimbi, South Africa

Thabazimbi is a sparsely populated region in the South African province of Limpopo known for its mining. The power distribution grid is far away, grid connection is limited and transportation of diesel fuel is expensive. With a high amount of solar irradiation, the region is ideally suited for the use of PV energy. Since November 2012, a one megawatt PV system  has complemented the existing diesel energy main supply at a chrome ore mine. As the key component of the Fuel Save Solution, the SMA Fuel Save Controller manages the PV feed-in and controls the solar and diesel generators according to current load and generation profiles.

A Carbon War Room case study calling for a rise in hybrid PV-diesel systems for mining highlighted a South African mine that’s integrated a 1 MW PV system to reduce diesel consumption by 24 percent, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1,200 tons annually. The system’s exceptional payback period, less than four years, gives further reason why the advancing PV diesel hybrid system technology can revolutionize the mining industry.

Remote Hybrid/genset as backup 3. Remote hybrid system with a genset backup supply: Island Electrification, Vava’u, Tonga

The Tongan island chain Vava’u is now benefiting from its perfect solar conditions—more than 1,500 hours of sunshine annually. A PV diesel hybrid system with the SMA Fuel Save Solution went into operation in November 2013 with the goal of saving diesel fuel and thereby minimizing costs and CO2 emissions. The 500 kW hybrid PV farm with 1,680 PV modules and 21 SMA Sunny Tripower inverters was fully integrated into the existing diesel network and provides almost 70 percent of Vava’u’s energy demands at noon.


  1. Ahmed A. D. Gh
    Ahmed A. D. Gh says:

    I’m working in a project same as design “2”. 500kW PV, i need more technical details on the connection of the FSC. all the required measurement components to feed the FSC with gensets status. all details available on SMA website are not enough to design such system

  2. Talha Saleem
    Talha Saleem says:

    Hi Justin,

    I saw on your website that the SMA fuel save controller in for more than 300KVA generators and for 100kW, which is actually my requirment, we need to get the one box solution?

    Is that true .. kindly elaborate pls


  3. Talha Saleem
    Talha Saleem says:


    I own a Renewable Energy business in Pakistan. In order to reduce battery bank costs I am interested in using Diesel or Gas combustion generators as back-up.

    I need to know if this is also compatible with natural gas combustion generators?


  4. Longrée
    Longrée says:


    I’m collaborating with a Komat’su distributor for mining sites in Africa. We intend to propose alternative solutions to full powered genset electricity production. I need to know if any monitoring of the genset installation is mandatory for the design of the SMA FSS. Could SMA give some support for the first project.

    Thanks for your answer.


  5. Ted
    Ted says:

    This is interesting. Does the fuel saver system have the ability to natively incorporate a battery bank to further optimize these types of systems?

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