ABB inverters bear weathering heights

Swiss engineering group ABB has provided solar inverters for a solar plant atop a new cable car station located at an altitude of 3,452 meters on Mont Blanc in the French Alps.

Built by the Cordée Mont Blanc consortium, the station, located on Pointe Helbronner, used multi-functional construction components made by Italian company EnergyGlass for its solar plant, which are equipped with two different models of ABB string inverters.

EnergyGlass installed a 13.3 kW solar panel plant at the Pontal d’Entrèves’ base station made up of 92 triple-layered glass panels of 29.04 mm thickness over an area of 160 square meters and a second 12.9 kWp plant at Pointe Helbronner where 84 panels cover an area of 120 square meters. In the second installation, the company used triple-layered double-cell glass panels of 69.5 mm due to the extremely challenging environmental conditions.

Sun and frost

The grid-connected solar plant atop the Pointe Helbronner station required inverters with specifications appropriate to a site at an altitude of 3,500 meters.

Antonio Rossi, EMEA Technical Sales Manager at ABB, said, “The working conditions of both the inverter and the solar panel generators must be assessed carefully to take into account how the inverter’s electrical rating changes at altitudes above 2,000 meters due to the rarity of the atmosphere. As a consequence, the calibration of the solar panel generator has to be done precisely to ensure maximum performance in these extreme conditions.”

Inverter solution

EnergyGlass used three different types of solar panels to get the best out of the three different orientations of the solar panels. To manage the solar generators, two models of ABB string inverters were chosen, PVI-3.6-TL-OUTD-S and PVI-6000-TL-OUTD-S, part of ABB’s UNO family of single-phase inverters.

ABB said the UNO line of inverters is ideally suited to resist extreme environmental conditions.

The new cable car system now connects the base station at Pontal d’Entrèves in Courmayeur, Italy, to Pointe Helbronner passing through a transit point at Pavillon du Mont Fréty.

Zero impact

In order to respect the natural value of the area, the project paid particular attention to restricting environmental impact and energy consumption. With “zero energy” buildings as an objective, the project’s engineers and planners carefully integrated structures into the landscape, used high insulation materials and employed solar panels to run pump heating systems.