We caught up with Natalie Holtgrefe, senior marketing manager at Yaskawa-Solectria Solar, about what the company is featuring at Solar Power International 2016.
Solar Power World: I understand Solectria Solar will be featuring its PVI 50/60TL transformerless three-phase inverters at the show. Having released these earlier this spring, how do you find contractors are responding to using these inverters in commercial solar products?
Natalie Holtgrefe: Contractors are looking for greater power levels to incorporate into their systems primarily to reduce the number of inverters needed for these projects, therefore reducing their overall installed system cost. We find contractors excited to have Yaskawa (Solectria) inverters at larger power levels. We’re seeing our 50 and 60-kW inverters being deployed in large ground mount, roof-top and carport arrays.
SPW: I see a couple of Solectria’s representatives will be speaking at SPI. For example, Brian Dow, your director of engineering will be speaking on meantime between failures (MTBF) in the townhall discussion of inverter technology. Why is MTBF such an important topic for solar installers, and what can they expect to learn by attending?
NH: MTBF is extremely important to installers and system owners alike. The inverter is the “heart” of a PV system – if there is a failure at the inverter, a complete system or part of the system could go down, which means loss of revenue in most cases. To reduce MTBF, Yaskawa designs-in and verifies reliability during the product development process. This includes hardware and software reliability processes and carefully selecting and vetting components to ensure they can last the lifetime of the system. Attendees can expect to leave the “town hall discussion” (panel) with an understanding of what MTBF means, why it should be important to them, and what tools are available to track and report MTBF. Installers want to alleviate any possibility of early failures that cause disruptions during commissioning. System owners need to understand MTBF to be able to calculate the expected uptime and any preventive maintenance a system may need.
SPW: Likewise, Solectria’s senior applications engineer Eric Every will be on a number of panels on Tuesday and Wednesday, mainly in relation to smart inverter functions and California’s Rule 21. Why is it important for solar contractors to attend these discussions, especially regarding Rule 21, even if they don’t install in California?
NH: Rule 21 requires the use of numerous advanced inverter functions,including volt-var control, voltage ride through and frequency ride through. The functions being added to Rule 21 are driving innovation in the industry and helping advance product standards for inverters. We are already seeing a number of utilities across the country utilizing these functions to benefit the grid and enable higher penetration of PV projects. While contractors in other states may not be required immediately to follow Rule 21 requirements, at some point they will benefit from implementing these functions for their projects.