SunEdison installs Enphase microinverter systems in New Jersey commercial solar project

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Enphase Energy has scored another commercial-scale installation of its photovoltaic microinverter system, this time at a recently commissioned power plant in New Jersey developed, built, and managed by SunEdison. The project represents the first time that the two companies have partnered.

“SunEdison chose the Enphase microinverter system for its reliability, system availability, and easy integration with our SEEDS [SunEdison Energy and Environmental Data System] monitoring and controls platform,” said Mark Culpepper, CTO of SunEdison. “The site has been running for three months…at an operating performance ratio of close to 120%. It’s one of the best-performing sites in our fleet.”

Enphase microinverter systems, which convert the DC output of a single PV module into grid-compliant AC power, provide several advantages over traditional inverters, according to the company. These include an increase in energy harvest of up to 25%, high system reliability, and simple and safe installation. Balance-of-system (BOS) and labor costs can be reduced by 10-15% compared with systems installed with central inverters.

The specific location and size of the New Jersey installation has not been divulged, although Raghu Belur, Enphase’s VP of marketing, told PV-Tech that it was “a midsize commercial system of less than 100KW,” financed with a power purchase agreement. He said hundreds of 60-cell crystalline-silicon modules, with STC ratings of more than 200W, were used for the arrays.

He explained that SunEdison has shown “a high level of interest in doing more installations” with the microinverter systems, and that the two companies, who worked together on the New Jersey project for nearly a year, are in active discussions. “The next installation is more about finding the right project and committing to it.” 

While Enphase is best known for its initial success in the residential market, the company has been “doing a number of commercial installations, bigger and bigger installations, over the past year,” Belur said. “We have a 120KW system running right now, and a 250-300KW system under construction.”

Noting that demand for the microinverter systems “has far, far exceeded our expectations,” the Enphase VP said that “every month is a record month for us in shipments. We’re shipping tens of thousands of inverters every month.”

Enphase recently announced a new product optimized for commercial installations, the D380 TwinPack. The unit is comprised of two microinverters in a single enclosure and an innovative cabling system, which is said to further reduce BOS costs and installation time. The new devices are undergoing field testing and are expected to be commercially available in Q1 2010.

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