Introduced at Solar Power International 2016, GE’s LV5+ Solar Inverter was touted as the first multi-MW, 1500V DC, next generation, utility-scale inverter product line based on Silicon Carbide (SiC) MOSFETS with an efficiency rating of 99% weighted EU (European Union) level. All LV5+ solar inverter reports from the time are missing a key specification: the AC Power rating. Even the GE Power Conversion LV5+ Solar Inverter webpage lacks this critical PV system design parameter. Drilling down, the LV5+ datasheet reveals the AC Power rating as 2500kW or 2.5MW with temperature and power factor caveats.

As an evolution of the LV5, GE’s first 1500V DC central inverter, why is the LV5+ only offered in the 2.5 MW variant while the base LV5 solar inverter product portfolio ranges from 1.0, 1.1, 2.5 to 3.125MW?

When asked this question and others about the LV5+ Solar eHouse Solution, cooling, commercial installations, and qualitative pricing, the GE Power spokesperson said:

“As we continue to see dynamic changes and disruption in the solar sector, market conditions and customer needs are rapidly evolving. We continue to focus on adapting the LV5 inverter platform to best meet those changing needs. While SiC remains one of the key technology levers, we’re evaluating a broad set of different options to determine what will help us best serve customers in the current market environment.”

Presented at APEC 2017, “From SiC MOSFET Devices to MW-scale Power Converters” by Ljubisa Stevanovic, CTO of Silicon Carbide Works, GE Global Research, covers GE’s SiC MOSFET Devices, 1.7kV SiC Power Modules, and MW-scale SiC PV Inverter in depth.

Launched as the first 1500V DC central inverter in 2012, GE has continued to build on the success of the LV5 solar inverter using proven silicon insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) technology. Stating the LV5 solution can save up to 3% in capital expenditure (capex) and up to 15% in operating expense (opex), GE said the LX5 Solar Inverter has an installed base greater than 3.5GW globally.

In recent news, GE Power was selected by Scatec Solar to supply 1.1 MWac LX5 solar inverter skids for their 162MW solar project located in Quixeré, State of Ceará, Brazil. GE claims to have won over 1GW of inverter orders in Brazil to date.

Available upon request, the LV5 Series Solar Inverter datasheet lists typical configurations as 1 MVA Inverter and 2 x 1 MVA, 3 x 1 MVA, or 4 x 1 MVA Skid solutions.

Once again, the very competitive solar PV industry requires immediate capex or LCOE benefits before promising new technologies can gain traction.