KOSTAL Pressebereich
Freiburg, 20/12/2022

Soaking up the sun with the KOSTAL PIKO CI

The Greek juice producer Hellenic Juices SA has been making high-quality juices for 16 years, including products manufactured on behalf of the most successful supermarket chains in Greece.

Greece enjoys about 50 % more hours of sunshine per year than Germany – plenty of sun, which is not only ideal for growing fruit, but also for PV systems. However, this amount of energy needs to be processed by an efficient and reliable inverter. The PIKO CI commercial inverter was chosen as the core of the recently completed photovoltaic system.
Soaking up the sun with the KOSTAL PIKO CI

Nick Varnas is an electrical engineer specialising in energy systems and managing director of the construction company Varnas ETE. He is satisfied as he looks back at the project, which had a roof area of 5,423 m². We spoke to him to learn more about this pioneering self-sufficiency project.

Question: Mr. Varnas, could you give us a few details about this major project that Hellenic Juices placed in your hands, to give us a better picture of it?

Nick Varnas: The PV system, which covers 5,423 m², produces about 1,150 MWh per year, 800 kWh of which is fed into the electricity grid. Hellenic Juices consumes about 1,500 MWh per year, which means the company is around 75 % self-sufficient. Based on current electricity prices, the photovoltaic system should have paid for itself in about 2.5 years.

Question: You chose KOSTAL with the PIKO CI commercial inverter. Why did you choose KOSTAL?

Nick Varnas: We chose KOSTAL because the technical support and the collaboration with the Greek branch of KOSTAL is impeccable. Furthermore, KOSTAL offers high-quality inverters and is one of the string inverter manufacturers with the largest presence in Europe. For these reasons, KOSTAL undoubtedly earned our trust.

Question: What convinced you about the PIKO CI inverter?

Nick Varnas: One of the main features that made us choose the PIKO CI is the ability to overload it by up to 50 % of its rated output and the high input voltage of 1,100 V. This allows multiple solar modules to be connected in series, which increases the voltage of each string and significantly reduces power losses. The efficiency of the inverter also reaches up to 98 % with an output power that is up to 10 % higher than the rated output. These features, together with the large number of DC inputs and MPPTs offered by the inverter, make it a lot easier to plan a complex photovoltaic system.

Together with the purchase price, the parameterisation options provided by the inverter interface also make the PIKO CI very attractive compared to all other inverter options.

One of the main features that made us choose the PIKO CI is the ability to overload it by up to 50 % of its rated output and the high input voltage of 1,100 V.

Question: How many commercial installations for net metering have you carried out with KOSTAL?

Nick Varnas: With KOSTAL, we have carried out installations for both net metering and selling electricity to the grid. More specifically, we have a portfolio of installed projects with KOSTAL inverters of more than 3 MW for projects from 5 kW to 800 kW.

Question: Do you use the free KOSTAL Solar Portal to easily monitor your system remotely?

Nick Varnas: Yes, we have a portfolio of installed projects with a total output of more than 3 MW, which we monitor using the KOSTAL Solar Portal.

Question: Are you planning to have PV systems with batteries or wallboxes for charging electric cars?

Nick Varnas: Yes, our company is planning to have PV systems in combination with battery systems for both car chargers and autonomous systems. Incidentally, our company has licences for power generation with energy storage batteries with an installed capacity of 50 MW, which will be implemented in line with the new legal framework in Greece for providing services on the medium-voltage grid.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Nick Varnas: We would like to further expand our activities in the PV system installation industry. The main priority is to provide our customers with high-quality services and to continually support them. Of course, we would also like to build on our close collaboration with KOSTAL. KOSTAL has the right product portfolio for this, consisting of inverters, energy meters, wallboxes and monitoring tools.

Question: Tell us a little more about VARNAS ETE.

Nick Varnas: Our company has been in the construction business since 1988 and has carried out numerous projects, mainly in the electromechanical field and many of those in the public sector, as the company holds a contractor's licence. 

It has a high level of technical expertise in electromechanical installations and automation, both on an industrial scale and in water supply and irrigation systems. In 2010, the company became involved in photovoltaic systems and carried out its first projects in line with the institutional framework in force at the time.

The PIKO CI is the ideal project inverter for the commercial sector

The PIKO CI is KOSTAL Solar Electric's answer to the demand for projects both large and small in the commercial sector. Depending on requirements, the PIKO CI is available with 30, 50 or 60 kW. For maximum flexibility, multiple PIKO CIs can be connected using daisy chain communication. The free PIKO CI app and the KOSTAL Solar App guarantee quick commissioning and detailed monitoring. In addition, KOSTAL is continually expanding its repertoire of partnerships with renowned battery manufacturers. In combination with the PLENTICORE BI battery inverter, this guarantees a highly efficient system for successfully moving towards self-sufficiency. This is particularly attractive in markets that do not allow net metering.