New Silicon Carbide Technology Makes Solar Energy More Affordable
A big part of what’s so magical about solar panels is their ability to convert sunlight into electricity. But there’s another critical conversion that’s part of the solar energy process: transforming the direct current (DC) produced by the panels into the alternating current (AC) that we use at home and work. This is the work of inverters.
Improving the efficiency in both conversions is a top priority for the solar power industry, as it looks to bring down the cost of solar energy. Boosting inverter efficiency is helping photovoltaic (PV) plant developers and utilities lower both capital and operating expenses, and increase revenue.
GE is helping to do this through its groundbreaking Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology, which promises unprecedented power conversion efficiency levels. Higher power conversion efficiency means more annual energy production from the same renewable energy resource.
The efficiency increase compared to industry standard is equivalent to $2.5million in additional energy generation over the lifetime of a 100MW solar plant.
GE’s SiC technology is at the heart of the GE LV5+ Series Solar Inverter, which increases the power conversion efficiency to 99% weighted European Union level (EU level).
The filter-less, air-to-air heat-exchanger system of the LV5+ Solar Inverter means a simpler design and high reliability. This again can translate into operating expense savings of approximately $300,0002 over the lifetime of a 100-megawatt (MW) power plant.
The LV5+ Series Solar Inverter has been showcased at GE’s booth at the Intersolar Middle East in Dubai last week and will be showcased at WETEX from Oct. 4 to 6 also in Dubai. The entire solar skid is installed in a standard shipping container frame, providing the base and protection for the equipment, and saving on logistic cost. Its “sleep feature” smartly disconnects transformers at night, eliminating no-load losses which can cause the industry US$ 800,0003 over the lifetime of a 100MW solar plant.
GE already supports solar PV in the region, with projects such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, the largest of its kind in the region. GE has provided 220MW LV5 series solar inverters that have been designed to meet the specific operating and environmental conditions of the Middle East.