AMETEK Programmable Power is ready to help manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) inverters meet the rapid growth expected in the solar energy market over the next several years.
According to Pike Research, a global clean energy market research and consulting firm, the demand for solar power worldwide is expected to increase from 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to more than 19 GW by 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent from 2010 to 2013.
Demand for PV inverters (the devices that connect solar panels to the power grid) is expected increase even more rapidly. Market research firm Yole Development, which has studied PV market trends for years, predicts annual growth in PV inverter demand over the next five years to exceed 30 to 45 percent. Along with that rapid growth, PV inverter manufacturers face a number of technical and regulatory challenges including:
* Changing PV panel electrical parameters and technologies (monocrystalline, polysilicon, CdTe thin film, CIGS thin film, concentrated PV)
* Evolving regulatory environments (e.g., IEC 61000-3-15)
* Changing utility requirements and pricing, and government tariffs and incentives.
Test systems from AMETEK Programmable Power, such as its Elgar brand TerraSAS Solar Array Simulator, allow manufacturers to simulate solar arrays, house loads and utility connections as well as comply with regulatory standards.
Solar arrays operate in an uncontrolled environment. Their output is highly dependent on many conditions, including sunlight intensity, ambient temperature, shading and other factors. To help inverter manufacturers evaluate product performance, the TerraSAS reliably, accurately and repeatedly simulates solar cell operation under all of these conditions.
The TerraSAS simulates dynamic solar irradiance and temperature characteristics over a range of weather conditions from clear to cloudy and over a specified time interval to produce the current / voltage (IV) characteristics, allowing manufacturers to more easily evaluate and optimize their PV array designs.
The system’s simulation engine can download data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Solar Advisor Model database defining key parameters – open circuit voltage (Voc), short circuit current (Isc) and maximum power point voltage (Vmpp) at 25o C and 1000 W/m2 irradiance – so that the I-V curve can be calculated according to a standard solar cell model for virtually any fill factor or solar material.
Among the newest test requirements is utility simulation, which addresses such concerns as making certain the inverter disconnects from the grid when grid power is lost (anti-islanding) and determining how an inverter reacts to power-line disturbances and power-line harmonics.
Along with those concerns, there are many standards, including IEEE 1574 and IEC-61000-3-15 that describe how to test an inverter under such anomalous conditions.
AMETEK Programmable Power
Filed Under: Electronics • electrical, Energy management + harvesting, Green engineering, Power supplies