ABB Invests nearly €4 Million in Solar Power Lab

February 18, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

ABB Group is investing almost €4 million into a solar power plant laboratory in Finland that will specifically test inverter performance and functionality. The research center in Pitajanmaki will begin operations later this month, primarily performing weather simulations and network disruptions to test the impact of such conditions on the performance of new inverter types.

According to ABB, the laboratory will be able to simulate both Siberian and tropical conditions, thus exposing the inverters to extremes of hot and cold, as well as dry weather and instances of intense humidity. The range of temperature simulations possible at the center is -40 to 100 degrees C.

ABB’s Finnish-developed solar power technology is currently used in MW-size power plants around the world, including in India, Japan, Europe and Latin America, where ABB inverters handle the power at the largest solar power plant in Honduras.

"The inverter plays a role in controlling the production process. It is a highly demanding power electronics device, the development of which requires top expertise," said ABB SVP power conversion Finland, Timo Toissalo. "As Finns, we have every reason to be proud of Finland becoming home to ABB’s nerve center for heavy-duty inverter know-how and development."

Toissalo added that ABB has been a close collaborator with Finnish universities and research institutions for some time – a relationship that has borne fruit in recent years. "More than half of the 4 GW installed base of India is equipped with ABB’s technology," he said, as way of illustration.

"Globally the market for inverters is approximately EUR seven billion, of which the power plant the size of inverters for about a third of the market. Finland ABB business is about more than a hundred million euros, which orders and sales have doubled in a year and the prospects are good. Solar electricity price is expected to decrease the size and power plants to grow. At the same time the inverter power requirements grow,” Toissalo concluded.