Project briefing

By Tom Kenning

Sandfire Resources, a mid-tier Australian mining company that operates the mine, called on developers to co-locate not only a solar power plant, but also a utilityscale energy storage system alongside its existing diesel power station. Showcasing the latest technological advances, the newly completed project in the Peak Hill Mineral Field has been hailed as one of the largest renewable energy systems installed at a mine anywhere in the world and certainly the largest in Australia.

Tracker technology highlights

By PV Tech

With competition in the tracker marketplace becoming extremely fierce, rival companies are adding new features all the time aimed at minimising installation and operation costs, and enhancing durability. Here we profile some of the single-axis trackers currently available on the market and the innovative design features they offer.

Reliability of large-scale PV plants and PV inverters

By Vicente Salas, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

The renewable energy market is currently booming, with large numbers of PV systems being installed throughout the world. However, a primary objective of any PV power system is to ensure that the system operates continuously and reliably. As Vicente Salas from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) explains, this aspect takes on special relevance in the case of utility-scale PV projects.

Impact of installation handling on cell cracks and power loss of PV modules

By Marc Köntges, Michael Siebert, ISFH; Nicole Bessing, Romy Illing & Frank Wegert, Hanwha Q CELLS

PV modules are subjected to various loads during installation handling. Research teams from the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin (ISFH) and Hanwha Q CELLS attended the installations of PV modules in order to develop various test sequences for quantifying the effects of handling loads on the modules. As a result of these observations, lab tests have been designed to evaluate the impact of module-handling loads on cell cracking in the modules. Some rules for module handling are subsequently proposed.

AtaMo: PV meets the high potential of the Atacama Desert

By Pablo Ferrada; Jorge Rabanal Arabach; Enrique Cabrera; Aitor Marzo; Pablo Tello; Andreas Schneider; Radovan Kopecek

Chile’s Atacama Desert has some of the best irradiance resources on the planet but also some of the harshest operation conditions. Scientists are working on a new type of bifacial glass-glass PV module, AtaMo, designed to make the best of the region’s resources while withstanding its rigours. Here they outline some promising preliminary results from the project.

Inverter performance problems in PV power plants

By Roland Singer, Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany

Power oscillation | In the last few years the power rating of PV power plants has risen very quickly to values reaching several hundred megawatts. This means there are hundreds, or even thousands, of inverters operating in parallel in these plants. Furthermore, these large-scale PV power plants are often built far away from cities and are therefore connected to the grid via long transmission lines. This leads to weak grid conditions in the power plants, and these conditions give rise to the risk of electrical instabilities within the plant, or instabilities of the plant within the grid. Roland Singer of Fraunhofer ISE explains how these electrical instabilities can be detected and counteracted.

Diminishing the glare that obscures

By Dr Licheng Liu, Deputy Head of the National Solarisation Centre (NSC), SERIS; Dr Yong Sheng Khoo, Head of PV Module Development , SERIS; Dr Thomas Reindl , Deputy CEO, SERIS; Julius Tan, Sunseap Energy Pte Ltd.

PV panel reflction | The increasing deployment of PV systems in dense urban areas has drawn attention to the issue of glare and the public discomfort arising from the sun’s reflection on the PV panels. Licheng Liu, Yong Sheng Khoo and Thomas Reindl of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and Julius Tan of Sunseap Energy discuss ways of fine-tuning system designs and alleviating visual discomfort, while not compromising on the energy yield of PV systems.

Solar Star: Inside the world’s biggest solar plant

Covering a 1,295-hectare estate mostly of fallow farmland, the world’s largest solar plant sits in the Antelope Valley straddling two counties of California. The Solar Star project has been supplying its full 579MW of capacity to the grid since May this year and it will be announced as offi cially complete before the end of 2015. PV Tech Power explored the designs behind this mammoth installation near Rosamond, California, to investigate what key factors had to be considered when creating a solar plant that can supply electricity to more than a quarter of a million homes.

Understanding PID: Improving the performance of large PV systems

By Rubina Singh, Member of the Technical Staff in the Photovoltaic Technologies Group, Fraunhofer CSE; Dr Cordula Schmid, PV Scientist, Fraunhofer CSE; Dr Jacqueline Ashmore, Energy Technology Program Manager, Fraunhofer CSE

Performance | Potential-induced degradation (PID) has emerged as an issue of concern in the last decade because of the increase in the deployment of utility-scale high-voltage PV systems. Rubina Singh, Cordula Schmid and Jacqueline Ashmore of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE present an overview of the mechanisms for PID and the impact of degradation, as well as the factors that contribute to its occurrence. They also discuss techniques for the detection, mitigation and predictive testing of PID.

Understanding PID: Improving the performance of large PV systems

By Rubina Singh, PV engineer at the Fraunhofer CSE; Dr Cordula Schmid, PV scientist at the Fraunhofer CSE PV; Dr Jacqueline Ashmore, Engineering Programme Manager at Fraunhofer CSE,

Performance | Potential-induced degradation (PID) has emerged as an issue of concern in the last decade because of the increase in the deployment of utility-scale high-voltage PV systems. Rubina Singh, Cordula Schmid and Jacqueline Ashmore of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE present an overview of the mechanisms for PID and the impact of degradation, as well as the factors that contribute to its occurrence. They also discuss techniques for the detection, mitigation and predictive testing of PID.

Distributed versus central architecture in solar arrays

By Alvaro Zanon

New inverter technologies offer installers the choice of central of distributed systems for PV arrays. Deciding which system is the most optimal to use isn’t always based on the size of a solar system, writes Alvaro Zanon.

The next-generation utility-scale PV plant

By Mahesh Morjaria; Kevin Collins; Michael Stavish; Greg Ball

A next-generation PV plant architecture based on increasing direct current system voltage from 1,000VDC to 1,500VDC holds the promise of a more cost-effective and productive utility-scale plant due to lower installation and maintenance costs. Mahesh Morjaria, Kevin Collins and Michael Stavish of First Solar and Greg Ball of DNV-KEMA Renewables explore some of the challenges associated with the development of the technology and the efforts to address some of those challenges.

A lasting bond

By Michael Niederfuehr

PV modules are commonly installed with mechanical fixings. But as installers look to drive down system costs, structural bonding is emerging as a reliable and cost-effective alternative, writes Michael Niederfuehr.