Solar farms offer an attractive source of carbon-neutral energy for both providers and customers concerned about the impact of climate change. However, up till now, the only way to make solar farms a competitive alternative to traditional power sources meant increasing their overall size, which defeats the purpose.
An industrial grade solar inverter—originally developed by GE Vernova for offshore wind farms—promises to increase the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar farms by taking more of the direct current (DC) from the photovoltaic (PV) panels and turning it into alternating current (AC) that can be used in the grid.
In making our choice, we insisted on having a technology that would not only be dependable and reliable, but that would also help make our offering increasingly cost competitive while yielding optimized productivity.
President and CEO, NextEra Energy Resources
Could a gray plastic box the size of a small hut be the solution to making solar farms a viable alternative energy source? GE Vernova certainly believes that, at the very least, the idea shows tremendous potential.
According to industry forecasts, the global photovoltaic (PV) panel capacity is expected to grow by more than 200 GW in the next few years, with 11 GW coming from the United States alone.
GE Vernova’s LV5 1500V line of inverters was originally developed for use on large scale wind farms and proved its effectiveness at several offshore sites owned by Alstom. After making some adjustments to the original design—increasing its power output by 50%—the inverter can now process more power through existing copper lines, allowing a single GE Vernova unit to replace four standard inverters and reduce the number of fans, filters, concrete pads, and other farm infrastructure components.
Spurred by the inverter’s success at Alstom, NextEra Energy Resources committed to using them at its US-based solar farms, citing the technology’s reliability and potential to reduce the costs associated with solar farm infrastructure.
GE Vernova anticipates making even greater improvements to the inverter in the years to come, such including silicon carbide (SiC) chips that could boost the device’s efficiency by 1-2 percent. Currently, utilities spend billions to get that much of a boost by including a gas turbine at the site.