String Inverters Single-Phase Solutions for the North American Market (2011): Page 10 of 10

Today, Solectria Renewables’ wide range of products includes 1.8 kW to 500 kW grid-tied inverters. Solectria Renewables’ marketing manager, Natalie Wiener, reports that the company’s current inverter sales revenue distribution is approximately 35% string inverters and 65% central inverters. In addition to PV inverters, Solectria Renewables also manufactures string combiners and offers a variety of online system monitoring options via its SolrenView webbased monitoring system.

Solectria Renewables launched its line of PVI 1.8 kW and 2.5 kW single-phase string inverters in 2005. In 2008, the company partnered with Taiwanese inverter manufacturer Motech to release the PVI 3000–5300 series string inverter line to the US market. Mike Kelly, engineering manager for Solectria Renewables, emphasizes the strength of the relationship as well as his company’s ownership of the PVI inverter line. “The PVI 3000–5300 series is our inverter, and we treat it as such,” Kelly says. “We’re responsible for the product line’s distribution, support and warranty. Our investment in the product is much deeper than simple branding.” This summer, two additional PVI models, the PVI 6500 and PVI 7500, will be released. These inverters have been ETL listed to UL 1741 and are currently eligible for the CSI program. The new units can be field-configured for 277 Vac output for commercial applications and will fill out Solectria Renewables’ overall inverter line. The company’s commercial and utility-scale PV inverters are manufactured in the US and are ARRA compliant as well as Ontario FIT Content Compliant. Solectria’s PVI 3000–5300 series Ontario FIT compliant single-phase string inverters are assembled in Ontario, Canada.

Solectria Renewables has been developing smart grid features for its high-power 3-phase inverters. While bringing these advanced capabilities to the string inverter product class is possible, Kelly does not feel that this transition will occur in the near future. He says, “There are no real technical obstacles to porting the smart grid features we have been developing for our large commercial and utility-scale inverters over to string inverter products. However, in most cases, string inverter systems do not tend to be aggregated to a degree that would justify advanced grid features like remote command and control or VAR support.”

In March, Solectria Renewables completed an expansion at its manufacturing facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The company expanded its California sales office and opened new offices in Florida and Colorado to increase its presence in the US. Scott Bowden, business development manager for Solectria Renewables, commented: “Solectria Renewables’ business is growing extremely quickly, and we see a need for regional support. We’ve strategically located our new offices in Florida and Colorado in part to serve existing customers, but also to reach the growing number of new customers. The expansion of our California facility is also very exciting. We’ve expanded our sales office to include customer service and application engineering. We are pleased to be well positioned to serve the PV market nationwide.”

FUTURE STRING INVERTERS

When you consider that high-voltage string inverters were a new-to-market technology in the US in 2001, the product class has clearly experienced extraordinary growth and innovation. New products from manufacturers like Eltek Valere are on the immediate horizon, and we expect to see additional models from the current market leaders as well.

SolarEdge’s Berdner believes that string inverter developments over the next few years will take three directions. First, he expects the US PV industry to transition to transformerless inverters, noting: “There is a growing acknowledgement that ungrounded arrays offer a number of safety benefits compared to grounded arrays.” Second, he expects the adoption of module-level power electronics in rooftop systems to become more widespread. Third, Berdner expects more inverter systems to incorporate bidirectional communication and control. “Once some changes are made to the UL and IEEE standards, inverters can easily provide improved low voltage ride through and enable remote utility control of power level and power factor. In order to allow widespread adoption of PV, inverters will need to become better citizens of the grid.”

CONTACT

David Brearley / SolarPro magazine / Ashland, OR / solarprofessional.com

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

MANUFACTURERS

Advanced Energy / 800.446.9167 / advanced-energy.com

Delta Energy Systems / 520.326.8401 / deltaenergysystems.com

Exeltech / 800.886.4683 / exeltech.com

Fronius USA / 810.220.4414 / fronius.com

Ingeteam / 262.240.9850 / ingeteam.com

KACO new energy / 415.931.2046 / kaco-newenergy.com

Motech Industries / 302.451.7500 / motech-americas.com

Power-One / 805.987.8741 / power-one.com

SMA America / 916.625.0870 / sma-america.com

Schneider Electric / 847.397.2600 / schneider-electric.com

SolarEdge / 530.273.3096 / solaredge.com

Solectria Renewables / 978.683.9700 / solren.com

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