Central Inverters for Utility-Scale PV Plants (2014)
Inside this Article
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
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