Central Inverters for Utility-Scale PV Plants (2014)

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, publishers of the “U.S. Solar Market Insight Report: Year in Review,” property owners and developers had 4,751 MW of PV capacity installed in the US in 2013. Utility-scale PV plants represent the bulk of this newly installed capacity, accounting for 2,847 MW or just under 60% of the total.

The majority of utility-scale PV power plants currently utilize 500 kW and larger central inverters integrated with external transformers that feed into a medium-voltage ac collection system. These ac collection system circuits are routed back to metal-enclosed or metal-clad switchgear. In many cases, a substation transformer steps up PV power plant output prior to interconnection to the distribution or transmission network.

Engineering procurement and construction contractors can either source medium-voltage step-up transformers separately and integrate inverters with them in the field, or order preconfigured power conversion stations directly from the inverter manufacturer. In the former case, system designers need to coordinate the transformer specifications carefully with the inverter manufacturer. (See “Basics of Medium-Voltage Wiring for PV Power Plant AC Collection Systems” and “Central Inverters for Utility-Scale Applications,” SolarPro magazine, December/January 2013.)

We developed the following utility-scale inverter dataset to provide PV plant designers with a high-level comparison of the electrical and mechanical specifications for central inverter models that are well suited for large solar applications. Products included in the table have a minimum ac output capacity of 250 kW at 50°C and are offered, supported and currently available (with a couple of exceptions) in the US market.

The aggregated specifications presented here cover 107 central inverter models from 17 manufacturers. Nearly all the products are listed to the UL 1741 standard and certified for use in system designs with PV output voltages of up to 1,000 Vdc. The compiled inverter specifications are also available in Microsoft Excel format at solarprofessional.com. SolarPro permits and encourages the integration of this Excel-based data with databases your company has developed for system design.

Joe Schwartz / SolarPro magazine / Ashland, OR / solarprofessional.com

Manufacturers

ABB (Power-One) / 877.261.1374 / abb.com/solarinverters

AE Solar Energy / 877.312.3832 / advanced-energy.com

AEG Power Solutions / 877.315.4584 / aegps.com

Bonfiglioli USA / 859.334.3333 / bonfiglioliusa.com

Chint Power / 855.584.7168 / chintpower.com/na

Danfoss / 855.335.2912 / danfoss.us/solar

Eaton / 855.386.7657 / eaton.com

Emerson Industrial Automation / emersonindustrial.com

GE Energy Management / ge-energy.com

Ingeteam / 408.524.2929 / ingeteam.com

KACO new energy / 415.931.2046 / kaco-newenergy.com

Santerno / 415.293.8272 / santerno.com

Schneider Electric / 888.778.2733 / schneider-electric.com

SMA America / 916.625.0870 / sma-america.com

Solectria Renewables / 978.683.9700 / solectria.com

Sungrow North America / 619.397.8000 / sungrow.ca

TMEIC / 540.283.2000 / tmeic.com

Article Discussion