Smart Inverter Meets Challenges of Shading, Uneven Terrain in Solar Arrays
The SolarEdge 330 kW inverter and H1300 power optimizer use maximum power point tracking to maximize power and improve the levelized cost of energy for solar installations.
SolarEdge has launched its SolarEzdge 330 kW inverter, a three-phase, ground-mounted solar inverter solution designed for community solar, agriculture, and small-to-medium utility solar projects.
SolarEdge solar facility installation. Image used courtesy of SolarEdge
As a companion to the inverter, SolarEdge is announcing the H1300 power optimizer. The combined inverter and power optimizer solution is designed to help reduce solar power’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) with higher inverter efficiency (99 percent) with up to 50 percent reduction in balance of system (BoS) costs.
Using maximum power point tracking (MPPT), the system mitigates power losses associated with module mismatch from shading, localized obstructions, or other factors that impact the power delivered by individual photovoltaic (PV) modules.
SolarEdge 330 kW inverter and H1300 power optimizer. Image used courtesy of SolarEdge
The SolarEdge 330 kW inverter is available immediately for U.S.-based projects scheduled for build-out in 2024 and will be made available to other global locations by the end of this year.
In a solar energy plant, inverters play the important role of converting DC power harnessed from the PV arrays into three-phase AC power that can be sent to the grid or used to power loads directly.
In addition to transferring power to the grid, excess power during peak periods of production can be stored locally in batteries or other energy storage systems for later use.
Typical solar power plant configuration. Image provided by EE Power
More Cost-Efficient Solar
According to SolarEdge, the inverter platform can reduce BoS (balance of system) costs by up to 50 percent compared with typical string inverter implementations since it allows for fewer and longer strings that support more PV modules. A PV module is an assembly of multiple individual PV cells connected in series and parallel to achieve higher current and voltage levels.
For solar energy installations, balance of system refers to all of the parts and components of the solar plant other than the electricity-producing PV panels. These items include the inverters, cabling, switches, mechanical mounting, and other key components of the installation.
In addition to direct material costs, a decrease in BoS also reduces labor and installation costs. The net result is a lower LCOE for system operators, a measure of how much energy a system produces relative to its annualized costs.
PV module connections impact BoS costs. Image used courtesy of SolarEdge
Solar Power Optimizers
With the SolarEdge system, power optimizers feed DC power collected from the PV modules to the solar inverter(s) for conversion to AC power. AC power is then transferred to the grid or to long-duration energy storage for later use.
Power optimizers like the H1300 typically collect power from two PV modules, or a 2:1 ratio. Among other functions, the SolarEdge power optimizers improve system yields through maximum power point tracking (MPPT), a method by which the operation of individual PV panels is monitored and its performance data relayed to a centralized control system.
Power optimizers collect energy from multiple PV modules. Image used courtesy of SolarEdge
Maximum Power Point Tracking
In PV systems, module mismatch is the difference in the power production between individual modules within a string and can degrade the power production of the entire string.
Maximum power point tracking eliminates mismatch losses. Image used courtesy of SolarEdge
SolarEdge’s smart inverters and power optimizers work together to provide MPPT that mitigates the effects of module mismatch. By allowing each panel in a PV array to operate independently, mismatch-related power losses due to shading, physical obstruction, or aging can be significantly reduced. Individual panels are allowed to operate closer to their peak power, as opposed to the peak energy level of the lowest-producing panel in the array.