Renewable Energy

GE Central Inverter Technology Clears Path for Utilities to Boost Solar Energy Production Worldwide

Marking a new technology milestone in the global effort to increase renewable energy production by driving down overall system costs, GE Energy has deployed the first 1,500Vdc open circuit (OC) central inverter for utility scale solar power plants. The inverter will help reduce overall system costs, which is vital to making solar power a more economical alternative to fossil fuel technologies. Central inverters are key components of photovoltaic (PV) plants. The technology converts dc power produced by solar panels to ac power, which is then fed into the main grid.

GE Energy’s Power Conversion business developed, built and delivered its 1,500Vdc ProSolar central inverter technology to solar power plant system integrator BELECTRIC, the global market leader in terms of installed power. BELECTRIC installed GE’s advanced central inverter at its new solar power plant in southern Germany, utilizing PADCON’s 1500Vdc System Technology.

"GE’s ProSolar central inverter system is designed to help efficiently stabilize the power grid with defined active and reactive power around the clock. This is extremely important when it comes to countering the intermittent availability of solar energy," said Bernhard Beck, CEO of BELECTRIC.

The 1,500Vdc OC central inverter for BELECTRIC is designed as an outdoor version and offers a number of key benefits. Most notably, it allows operation at high dc voltages on panel level with lower dc currents while increasing the rated power for inverters. This can result in significantly lower costs for the technical DC infrastructure as well as the overall balance of system costs. Since the power of the inverter system is limited mainly by the current, the power can be substantially increased by increasing the operating voltage, and this means additional cost savings.

Due to higher operating dc voltage and higher output with the same size as conventional ProSolar 1,000Vdc OC inverter units, the 1,500Vdc OC solution offers higher power density with the same small footprint that means optimized and flexible site layout. The liquid-cooled and improved power electronic topology ensures high efficiency, especially in partial load operations and is developed in Berlin.

"Our inverter rated at 1,500 volts is an important breakthrough in efforts to achieve grid parity with photovoltaic systems in certain countries. GE offers customers with technology options to support renewable energy policies and push projects that build long-term energy security using solar energy," said Georg Möhlenkamp, global product leadership manager for GE Energy Management’s Power Conversion business. "Reducing the costs of solar electricity generation through continuous innovation forms the basis for GE Energy’s long-term technology development strategy."

By offering its solar inverter technology as part of its broad portfolio of products and solutions, GE Energy is supporting ongoing energy policy changes in Germany, which plans to increase the share of renewable energies to 35 percent of total power demand by the year 2020. By deploying the ProSolar central solar inverter to help reduce the costs of solar power generation, PV projects will become an increasingly economical alternative to fossil fuel technologies.

More news and information regarding the latest developments in Smart Grid electronics can be found at Darnell’s SmartGridElectronics.Net.

GE Energy
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