As the solar market increasingly shifts toward new technologies to optimize power generation in a cost-effective way, the demand for higher voltages and higher power classes/ratings continues to expand.
Here are five reasons to consider high-voltage string inverters for utility-scale projects.
1. Higher yields for less
Higher voltage levels help to optimize power generation through modular combiner-free design and bigger PV clusters with reduced system costs.
This means systems can often require 35% to 65% fewer inverters to deliver the same overall AC capacity — compared to other solutions on the market and subject to project needs — to complete the optimal power block, thereby saving installation time and delivering higher yields and improved capital expenditures (CapEx).
2. Versatile clusters
These design-friendly high-voltage inverter solutions can be easily adapted for free field ground-mounted installations, ensuring that EPCs and developers are no longer locked into legacy systems.
For complex installations, 12 independent MPPTs provide greater capacity and increase yields without compromising on versality.
For installations where space is a premium, the combination of higher voltage with a compact design allows for bigger clusters within a smaller footprint. This provides greater versatility and allows PV to be installed across different terrains and within remote locations.
3. Enhanced O&M
Improving O&M within utility-scale projects is critical to help reduce Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and balance system costs over the array’s lifetime. This can be achieved using high-power string inverters that incorporate unique patented Advanced Cooling Concept technologies, as offered by ABB.
This technology can extend an array’s lifetime and minimize O&M costs thanks to internal cooling fans that protect mission-critical components. These fans can be easily removed during scheduled maintenance cycles, while the power module can be easily replaced without removing the wiring box.
In addition, the fuse-free design further minimizes costs of maintenance, as it removes the need for onsite fuse exchange. It also improves string level performance monitoring to avoid energy losses.
4. Improved OpEx and CapEx
The utility market is naturally moving toward higher voltages and higher power classes to take advantage of reduced operational expenditures (OpEx) and CapEx against the total system cost. High-voltage systems also benefit from greater plant performance for improved LCOE of the solar plant, reduced environmental impact and improved reliability. Decision-makers for industrial and small utility-scale projects are realizing the potential that high-power string inverters deliver, lowering OpEx between 30 to 40%.
5. Integrated technology
The key determining factor for future solar plants will be the overall system efficiency, stability and all the interactions within it and with the grid. Countries such as Brazil, the United States and many European players in utility-scale PV are quickly adopting high-voltage string inverters. Many of these projects are taking advantage of intelligent inverter technology with remote monitoring and control to maintain grid stability and ensure maximum uptime and plant productivity as more solar power is fed into the grid.
Thanks to the advanced communications and remote monitoring capabilities built into high-power string inverters, it is now possible to improve performance, uptime and yield related to installation, commissioning and other cost factors associated with renewable energy projects.
Digitalization capabilities are already being harnessed by some of the world’s leading PV projects not just at plant operation level, but at installation level too. The latest ABB product innovations within the high-power string inverter category now come with installer apps that can easily be downloaded from mainstream app stores. Apps provide immediate access to the manufacturer’s library of knowledge and insight, with simple and quick plant installation instructions to get all inverters deployed in a single cluster and commissioned in less than 20 minutes, in some instances.
The increasing adoption of high-power string inverters will help the utility-scale solar industry continue to cut costs and keep growing.