Meet Solectria SLX, the newest line of 1,000-volt, 1,500-volt inverters from Yaskawa-Solectria

Yaskawa Solectria Solar is introducing a new line of American-made inverters for commercial and utility-scale applications: Solectria SLX.

Yaskawa Solectria

The SLX 1000 inverters are offered in 60 and 65 kilowatt (kW) power levels and the SLX 1500 inverters are offered in 125 and 166 kilowatt (kW) power levels. They offer wireless HMI and connectivity, reducing the cost of installation and commissioning. Various options for the integrated combiner include fused or unfused inputs as well as PV connectors.

“Since Solectria Renewables was acquired by Yaskawa America in 2014, we have incorporated Yaskawa’s quality methodologies into our PV inverter design and production processes,” said Phil Vyhanek, President of Yaskawa Solectria Solar. “The SLX 1000 and SLX 1500 have endured testing to ensure that each individual component as well as the finished product will last beyond 20 years. PV project developers, owners, and EPCs will appreciate the new level of inverter reliability and durability, which drastically lowers the cost of installation and O&M, while increasing power production.”

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Yaskawa-Solectria says PVI 50, 60 TL inverters now meet California Rule 21

Yaskawa – Solectria Solar, a U.S. commercial PV inverter manufacturer, announced that their PVI 50 TL and PVI 60 TL inverters are now fully compliant with California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) Rule 21 – UL1741 SA.

Yaskawa solectria inverters

Achieving compliance two months prior to the deadline demonstrates Yaskawa – Solectria Solar’s dedication to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and innovation.

“We are committed to providing grid-support enabled utility-interactive inverters to meet our Nation’s needs to ensure a stable grid,” said Miles Russell, Director of Product Management. “Yaskawa – Solectria Solar is continuously working to lead the market with the highest quality and reliability, while keeping up with the latest requirements.”

Rule 21 describes newly defined needs by utilities for grid stabilization as PV generation in California continues to grow. The Rule describes interconnection, operating and metering requirements for inverters to allow the grid to accept increased capacity as California adds more GWs to its grid. Rule 21 will allow inverters to actively interact with the grid and contribute to system-wide stability and reliability. UL1741 SA prescribes testing methods to qualify smart inverters for compliance with Rule 21.

California’s Rule 21 decision finalized, IREC considers it a ‘big win’

— Solar Builder magazine

Yaskawa-Solectria Solar inverters now fully compatible with Tigo optimizers

Yaskawa – Solectria Solar announced full compatibility of its three-phase string inverters with Tigo’s module optimizers, fully complying with the 2014 and 2017 National Electric Code (NEC) 690.12 Rapid Shutdown Requirements.

Yaskawa-Solectria Solar extends its string inverter line“We are pleased to offer our customers a solution that complies with the upcoming module-level rapid shutdown requirements,” said Miles Russell, Director of Product Management at Yaskawa – Solectria Solar. “Tigo’s integration with Yaskawa – Solectria Solar inverters allow us to stay at the forefront of the latest technology and code changes, while keeping costs low. This solution gives customers the reassurance they are looking for when it comes to safety.”

Tigo’s UL and IEC-certified optimizers TS4-L and TS4-O discharge the capacitors in the inverter to ensure zero voltage at shutdown. In addition, the built-in automatic over-current and over-temperature features reduce liability and provide safer conditions for installers, customers and first responders in case of emergency.

System design

Tigo conducted extensive testing to validate the effective performance of the systems together in standard operating environments. Yaskawa – Solectria Solar’s three-phase string inverters, PVI 23/28/36TL, can be used successfully in combination with the following TS4 product families from Tigo:

• TS4-B models –D, -M, –S, -O, -L
• TS4-R models –M, -S , -O

“Tigo is distinguished in the industry as being the sole company to offer a certified modular platform so customers can cater their system needs by simply replacing the TS4 functional covers,” says Gal Bauer, Director of Training and Development at Tigo. “By combining our innovative technologies with tier 1 companies like Yaskawa – Solectria Solar, Tigo is providing the solar market with the safest solar energy generation products and management systems.”

RELATED: 2017 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Sunworks to start installing co-branded Yaskawa – Solectria inverters

Yaskawa – Solectria Solar formed a partnership with Sunworks, which means Sunworks will be installing co-branded PVI 50/60TL transformerless three-phase string inverters that are a part of Yaskawa – Solectria Solar’s top-selling commercial string inverter line.

Sunworks says it chose Yaskawa – Solectria Solar inverters based on their reliability, Yaskawa – Solectria Solar’s support, and the ongoing successful relationship between both companies.

sunworks yaskawa solectria inverter

“Sunworks has initiated its ‘Powered by’ program, which is tailored to exceed customer expectations, reduce installation time and enhance production. Yaskawa – Solectria Solar was chosen after extensive evaluation to be our partner of choice for this program,” said Robert Lopez, VP Procurement of Sunworks.

The alignment of the two solar companies will create new opportunities for customers who can benefit from both company’s service and increased flexibility.

RELATED: 2017 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 

First project lined up

Sunworks will begin installing Yaskawa – Solectria Solar inverters in a 2.8-MW ground-mount project located in Buttonwillow, Calif.. Yaskawa – Solectria Solar’s PVI 60TL provides the best solution to optimize BOS, reduce labor costs, and maximize energy harvesting for customers.

Sunworks will continue to utilize other Yaskawa – Solectria Solar commercial products in addition to the PVI 50/60TL depending on project needs.

— Solar Builder magazine

1,500-volt systems to trend in 2017: Here’s what you need to know

SolarBOS-cutline

SolarBOS combiner

Large-scale solar projects are heading into yet another sea change: the 1,500-volt PV system (Vdc). The idea behind the voltage increase is the same now as it was during the move from 600 volts to 1,000 volts — further reduce installation costs and increase profitability by reducing the number of inverters and other BOS components required.

“But there is a difference this time,” notes TJ Kanczuzewski, president of Inovateus Solar located in South Bend, Ind. As a solar EPC and distributor, Inovateus Solar was one of the first solar companies to be introduced to 1,000 Vdc from 600 Vdc and has seen these types of technology transitions before. “Today’s 1,500 Vdc are more sophisticated systems than we’ve ever had before.”

Advanced Intelligence

Kanczuzewski relays his experience designing projects with Schneider Electric’s new Conext SmartGen 1,500-Vdc inverters, which can record and store operations and service history, as well as upload all of this data and self-diagnostics to the cloud.

“The Conext system also offers 30-year service life and a minimum of 15 years before the first major service,” he says. “So, this time, these systems are very intelligent as well as powerful.”

And this is just the beginning as all of your favorite inverter brands start to launch and ramp up production on their product lines. At the 2016 Solar Power International, Yaskawa-Solectria Solar, one of the most widely installed brands, pre-announced its 1,500-Vdc, utility-scale string inverter, the SLX 1500 line. These inverters will be available at various power levels and AC voltages, but adding in its Wireless Mesh network eliminates the need for communication wiring, reducing communications and BOS cost.

“In addition, the Wireless Mesh proves to simplify commissioning, has robust/secure networking, advanced grid functionality, superior asset management and improves response time,” says Natalie Holtgrefe, senior marketing manager for Yaskawa-Solectria Solar.

RELATED: How optimizers bridge the gap to 1,500-volt PV systems 

But is it safe?

Regardless of ancillary benefits, being an early adopter to such a step up in voltage carries risk.
“There is a lack of understanding in the industry concerning incident energy and arc flash risk. This is true for 1,000-Vdc systems and clearly becomes more important in 1,500-Vdc systems,” says SolarBOS CTO Coel Schumacher.

BOS equipment provides overcurrent protection and disconnecting means used for system operation and maintenance and must be accessible to personnel. Due to the nature of photovoltaic installations, there are a significant number of sources that aggregate in BOS equipment, and a series of devices are typically used to achieve this.

“While it is possible to isolate these devices, the long runs between them make it inconvenient as well as difficult to isolate a device by a means within line of sight,” Schumacher continues. “If the device is not completely isolated, portions of the equipment remain energized. This poses an arc flash risk and yet there is no consensus on how to evaluate that risk, much less how much risk there truly is.”

SolarBOS offers BOS equipment including combiners and recombiners with various options for circuit count, current ratings, OCPD and disconnecting means. On the AC side of the inverter, SolarBOS offers configurable switchgear that is necessary for string inverter implementation.

Yaskawa-Solectria Solar’s DISCOM 1500 string combiners offer various options that make design and safety easier for installers, including MC4/H4 connectorized wire whips, compression lug studs and heavy gauge bus bars.

Eaton, which has extensive experience in managing DC circuits in other high voltage DC environments such as battery storage systems, rail systems and steel mills, reminds us that the call for 1,500-volt safety extends to the equipment, too.

“At 1,500 Vdc, there is substantially higher voltage stress on the solar modules, which can make modules more susceptible to potential induced degradation (PID),” says John Vernacchia, segment manager for renewable energy at Eaton. “Only a few years ago, PID had a disastrous effect on many solar projects. As developers look at using this higher voltage technology, caution should be taken to use PID-resilient solar modules and to use grounded arrays. Past experience has shown that floating arrays are significantly more sensitive to PID due to the negative voltage bias placed on the solar modules.”

Eaton’s 1,500-Vdc inverters will employ a new proprietary DC design concept that replaces manual DC disconnects with DC contactors to improve both control and enhance operator safety.

Eaton’s 1,500-Vdc inverters will employ a new proprietary DC design concept that replaces manual DC disconnects with DC contactors to improve both control and enhance operator safety.

Reducing BOS costs

As dazzling as the new capabilities are, the potential BOS cost reductions are just as enticing for an industry constantly having to prove its economic worth. GTM Research estimates that overall project costs can be reduced by three to five percent by moving to 1,500-Vdc systems, realized mainly through reduced installation time and fewer components.

SolarBOS’s Schumacher says the 1,500-Vdc projects they’ve done are acting as flagship installations to prove the benefits of higher voltage systems. In general, he says, BOS equipment becomes more energy dense and cost effective at 1,500 Vdc.

“In addition 1,500-Vdc systems lend themselves to higher AC voltages [600 Vac or more], which helps to reduce AC conductor and switchgear cost,” Schumacher says.

Eaton developed its Crouse-Hinds series DC collection system, Sunnector, to reduce costs and installation time in these utility-scale solar projects. This system can help reduce labor and material costs by 15 percent on average, according to Vernacchia, in 5 MW and larger-scale, grid-tied solar projects that use fixed-tilt ground-mount racking designs.

A key here is using aluminum for long-distance runs, but still incorporating copper connections to the PV modules. This way contractors are able to use standard copper connectivity and tools, while project owners are able to reduce costs by taking advantage of lower cost aluminum wire.

Yaskawa-Solectria’s SLX 1500 line and Wireless Mesh network eliminates the need for communication wiring, reducing communications and BOS cost.

Yaskawa-Solectria’s SLX 1500 line and Wireless Mesh network eliminates the need for communication wiring, reducing communications and BOS cost.

So, where are we?

Holtgrefe says Yaskawa-Solectria Solar is seeing considerable demand for 1,500 Vdc in utility-scale projects. However, 95 percent of demand in the C&I space is still for 1,000-Vdc products. Her expectation is for the C&I space to move toward 1,500-Vdc systems at a slower rate of adoption than utility-scale.

“We’ll need to educate our customers about this new offering and help them understand the value,” Kanczuzewski says. “Code standards will need to be revised in some areas, and different utilities may have their own guidelines, so installers will need to make sure that 1,500 Vdc is compliant or show how 1,500 Vdc is becoming the new standard. We can always go back to 1,000-Vdc systems if our customers require it, but we hope we’ll be able to transition quickly.

“Inovateus went through the same type of customer education and standards review with the transition to 1,000 Vdc, but we expect that 1,500 Vdc will overcome any hurdles and become the norm within the next two to three years.”

Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder.

— Solar Builder magazine