SMA America hosting utility-scale solar, storage forum in July

SMA central inverter

SMA America is hosting a special event for solar professionals, particularly those focused on utility-scale storage and solar, that will highlight cutting-edge solutions for utility-scale projects. The Utility-scale Storage & PV Forum will take place July 12, 2017, at the Hotel Zetta in San Francisco.

The forum will address challenges and solutions for high-penetration PV networks as well as the value and uses cases for storage, and will highlight SMA’s new large-scale storage solution, the Sunny Central Storage 2500-EV-US. The program will include a wide-range of expertise presented from SMA and Siemens Energy Management Solutions.

“There is a great need for utility-scale solutions with integrated storage in today’s evolving solar mar-ket,” said John Susa, executive vice president of sales for SMA America. “We value the opportunity to discuss these topics with our customers and stakeholders, and we hope they’ll attend this forum and come away with additional knowledge and a better understanding of opportunities in the current landscape.”

The Sunny Central Storage 2500-EV-US is SMA’s power conversion system for large-scale battery stor-age systems. These systems enable the integration of large amounts of intermittent renewable ener-gy into the utility grid while maintaining grid stability. Sunny Central Storage is compatible with differ-ent types of leading battery technologies.

The forum will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m. In addition to educational sessions, the event will provide valuable industry networking. The event is so cool and exclusive that it’s already at capacity. Be on the lookout for the next SMA

— Solar Builder magazine

Ask an Expert: Inverter manufacturers give us their best troubleshooting advice

Christopher Barrett

Christopher Barrett

Wi-Fi Can Cause Communication Issues

Christopher Barrett, director of technical services, APsystems

We often see issues our installers are facing related to communication, often due to misplacement of the gateway or an unreliable internet connection. Following best practices recommended by the manufacturer will help installers reduce repeat site visits to fix communication problems. Some of these best practices include installing a gateway in the correct location, which is typically a direct connection to the service panel in which the PV array home-run is landed (often a dedicated PV sub-panel). We also recommend using a wired ethernet connection whenever possible to better ensure reliable communication and minimize returns to the jobsite.

Ryan LeBlanc

Ryan LeBlanc

Double-check those Airways, String Lengths

Ryan LeBlanc, senior applications engineer, SMA America

  1. Over-voltage, strings that are too long, are the fastest way to kill an electrical device.
  2. Blocking airways, installing inverters too close to walls or other inverters, and not inspecting inverters regularly for a blocked air intake are both common. This results in less production, but it’s hard to say if it kills them earlier.
Frank O’Young

Frank O’Young

Pro Tip: Try Different Cable Colors

Frank O’Young, associate VP, Darfon

Our tech team sees that often the polarities of the DC lines from a PV module or string are incorrectly connected to the inverter due to the fact that same color cables (mostly black) are used for the + and – of the module or string. This can be avoided by using different cable colors for different polarities or checking the polarities before inverter connection. Our tech team also sees of that the L1 and L2 lines of the AC circuit are incorrectly wired when tying the inverter to the grid. Caution should be taken when connecting the L1 and L2 and instructions from the inverter manual should be followed.

RELATED: 2017 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 

Mark Cerasuolo

Mark Cerasuolo

Storage is Complex – Get Trained to do it Right

Mark Cerasuolo, director of training and marketing, OutBack Power

Since our products and systems typically either include or interact with batteries, some training beyond what most grid-tie installers have is really necessary to ensure a safe and reliable installation. Even then, we really encourage installers to use pre-wired systems to ensure that the system is complete and wired correctly.

Ed Heacox

Ed Heacox

Top 4 inverter installation issues from CPS

Ed Heacox, GM, CPS Americas

  • “Grid V Out of Limit.” This is when the customer forgot to check that AC switch is on, so the inverter thinks the AC grid voltage is out of limit.
  • String mis-match. An inconsistent number of panels per string on one MPPT.
  • Exceeding DC/AC ratio recommendations. This can lead to occasional intermittent faulting.
  • Installing the DC string from left to right when it would be more ideal to balance the load across two MPPTs. This can lead to one MPPT too far out of balance from other MPPTs (e.g. four strings in No. 1 and one string into No. 2).
Peter Mathews

Peter Mathews

Watch your Connections, System Design

Peter Mathews, North American general manager, SolarEdge

Two very common errors are the improper mating of the connectors or reverse polarity. Other items that relate to the connectors include leaving connectors open during the installation process, which can lead to water penetration, or not fully crimping the wires. Another area in which we see support issues arise is in system design. For example, SolarEdge enables the installation of longer strings, so installers who are used to standard design constraints may out of habit design short strings instead of the 11.25-kWp strings that are available with the SolarEdge solution.

Brian Lydic

Brian Lydic

Inverter Integrity Starts with a Correct Installation

Brian Lydic, senior standards and technology engineer, Fronius USA

The most common installation oversights we see are related to torqueing, inverter location and moisture management. The mounting bracket must be installed on a surface to ensure there is no bowing or warping of the bracket. The wiring compartment must be wired as per guidelines to ensure a flush mating of the inverter body to the mounting bracket chassis. If wire routing or conduit fittings are not considered, there may be a loss of integrity in this seal. Pay special attention to the DATCOM cover. Make sure it “clicks” or “snaps” in place before screws secure it. If the cover is simply screwed in, there may be bowing and slight gaps between the inverter body and DATCOM cover, allowing water ingress.

— Solar Builder magazine

SMA system selected for pilot storage program at NREL facility

Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will utilize SMA technology for a 1 MW battery pilot project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), the nation’s premier wind energy technology research facility.

SMA Sunny Central Storage_sm

Using the proven RESolve energy storage system, the project will test various components of energy storage and educate the public on how energy storage can create a more stable, secure U.S. electric grid and accommodate increasing amounts of clean, renewable energy.

The test site utilizes a Sunny Central Storage unit, SMA’s power conversion system for large-scale battery storage systems. These systems enable the integration of large amounts of intermittent renewable energy into the utility grid while maintaining grid stability. The Sunny Central Storage is compatible with different types of battery technologies.

Upon completion, research staff will use various applications of the system to test certain modes ranging from frequency regulation to renewable energy integration. The NWTC is located south of Boulder, Colo., and construction for the test system is estimated to be completed this month.

RELATED: 2017 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 

— Solar Builder magazine

Copper Mountain Solar (94 MW) in Nevada goes with SMA inverters

SMA inverters were recently selected by Amec Foster Wheeler for Sempra Renewables’ 94 MW Copper Mountain Solar 4 project in Boulder City, Nev. This is the fourth phase of the Copper Mountain Solar Complex, one of the largest PV solar facilities in the U.S. When Copper Mountain Solar 4 is complete, it will power approximately 41,000 California homes.

Copper Mountain SMA inverters

This is one of the first major solar projects to use SMA’s Sunny Central 2200-US inverter, which allows for more efficient power plant design and high power density. The project used 46 Sunny Central inverters.

“SMA is honored to be selected for this project and to work with Amec Foster Wheeler and Sempra Renewables on this effort,” said Boris Wolff, Executive Vice President of SMA’s Utility business unit. “The new Sunny Central 2200-US inverter is a game changer in terms of power density and feature-rich integration of advanced utility grade functionality.”

RELATED: 2017 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 

The SMA team provided an operational overview of the Sunny Central for the Sempra team at the project site, ensuring that there will be seamless operation moving forward.

“SMA inverters were the right choice for this project due to their production technology and capability, robust reliability, industry presence, and our familiarity with their organization and products from previous projects,” said Larry Myers, Director of Solar Projects for Amec Foster Wheeler.

— Solar Builder magazine

SMA launches new Power + Solution — a flexible MLPE, string inverter residential concept

As residential PV becomes a bigger part of the energy landscape, both consumers and solar professionals are demanding more from their solar technology. To meet the growing demand for fast, cost-effective and high-performing solar solutions, SMA America has launched its new Power+ Solution. Combining the proven Sunny Boy U.S. inverter with the TS4-R Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE), the new SMA solution cost-effectively optimizes residential PV systems and ensures higher energy yields.

Power+ solution-sma

Now available for ordering, the SMA Power+ Solution can be applied per module for operational simplicity or selectively for faster installation.

“Every solar PV project has unique challenges and objectives, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not meet the needs of today’s solar landscape,” said Sven Schreiber, executive vice president of the Residential business unit at SMA. “With the Power+ Solution, integrators can choose to apply the technology in a way that optimizes ROI for their individual business model.”

Selective deployment

The TS4-R module components of the SMA Power+ Solution can be used like traditional MLPEs and satisfy all of the challenges that incumbent solutions address, but unlike traditional optimization, which requires MLPEs on every module, the Power+ Solution can also be applied selectively. SMA believes this reduces installation time, service risk and ultimately cost. Selectively deploying TS4-R can save up to 90 minutes of installation time per residential system while realizing greater energy production and roof usage, and providing a higher ROI.

Selective deployment is also ideal when it comes to service and O&M. Fewer components mean fewer potential points of failure and less risk, and when service is required, it is simpler.

Full system details

For integrators opting for full deployment, installation can still achieve significant time saving.

The module-based DC technology is supplied by the universal TS4 platform, which offers various levels of plug-and-play functionality. The TS4 is available as a factory integrated component through leading module suppliers. It is also available as an add-on, retrofit option exclusively through SMA, and makes any system instantly smarter and more powerful. Benefits of the TS4 line include module-level monitoring, shutdown code compliance, shade mitigation and increased string lengths.

The TS4 works seamlessly with the Sunny Boy US inverter, the fastest PV inverter to install. This allows installers and distributors to realize additional cost savings by reducing the total number of products they must carry. Now, integrators can carry one line of inverters for MLPE and non-MLPE applications, which reduces warehouse space while also improving flexibility when installation requirements change at the last minute.

— Solar Builder magazine