New Industry Products

GE Introduces New Solar Inverter For Integrating To Grid

December 10, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

GE announced that its wind turbines are now bringing benefits to large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Building on a platform of power electronics, monitoring and controls that enhance wind energy grid integration, GE has developed a 600 kW solar inverter, which includes grid-friendly features to deliver performance in large-scale solar installations similar to conventional power plants.

Based on the proven design of the power converters that GE manufactures for its fleet of 12,000+ 1.5MW wind turbines, the new solar inverter is suited for use in the multi-megawatt solar projects that are becoming an increasing percentage of new installations.

"We believe that there will be significant growth in large-scale projects as the United States and the world strive to meet renewable energy targets," said Victor Abate, Vice President-Renewables for GE Power & Water. "The challenge will be integrating these larger solar projects – which are also powered by a variable fuel source – in a reliable way."

Because the energy output of a solar power plant is directly related to the availability of the sun, anticipating the load that the solar power plant will provide can present a challenge for the utility grid, causing the plant to trip off-line. In order to ensure that solar power plants stay online, providing cleaner, more reliable energy, the variability needs to be managed so that it is more predictable – even during disturbances such as intermittent cloud cover.

GE’s wind converters include control functions that enhance integration – a requirement to meet grid codes. SunIQ™, GE’s suite of solar plant monitoring and controls, can manage voltage in a similar way.

"As variable energy such as wind and solar continues to come online, there will be ongoing challenges with integrating into the grid," said Abate. "Solar integration will need to be managed in order to ensure that it operates as a ’good citizen’ on today’s grid."