GE eyes 1 GW US capacity for new 1500V inverters

The anticipated transition towards 1500 volt (V) components within the solar industry has taken another step forward in the past week following announcements from two leading players that they will begin ramping up distribution of their higher voltage components.

GE has confirmed that it is to begin establishing its LV5 1500V solar inverters throughout its territories towards the end of the year. The U.S. power company has signed a supply agreement with utility NextEra Energy to deliver its 1500V inverter solutions to more than 1 GW of large-scale solar plants across the U.S.

Chinese solar module producer Suntech, meanwhile, has announced it is to unveil its 1500V modules at next week’s Solar Power International (SPI) exhibition in California before an official launch in October.

Benefits of high voltage

GE Energy Management Power Conversion business will install its 2 MW and 4 MW LV5 1500 central inverters at various large-scale solar plants across the U.S. later this year as part of its supply agreement with NextEra Energy, marking a transition towards higher voltage components that is set to bring about accelerated cost reductions throughout the solar sector.

"In making our choice, we insisted on having a technology that would not only be dependable and reliable, but that would also help make our offering increasingly cost-competitive while yielding optimized productivity," said NextEra Energy Resources president and CEO Armando Pimentel. "We are pleased to be partnering with GE Power Conversion to help us achieve this."

GE Energy Management CEO Mark Begor said that delivering cost-effective solar power solutions at utility-scale is all about finding ways to increase operational efficiency. He added: "GE is providing its latest technology that will efficiently convert solar energy into electricity."

The LV5 1500V inverters’ increased voltage level enables a power station’s power rating to be doubled, decreasing system losses and lowering BoS costs. At 4MW, the larger central inverters also mean fewer units are required, which in turn brings down installation times, cost and operating expense.

"The LV5 1500V inverter helps to optimize plant design by enabling a higher DC/AC ratio," said GE’s director of North American solar sales and business development Mahesh Gandhi. "This provides high technology MPPT algorithms to help ensure maximum power throughout."

Suntech will unveil a similar evolutionary upgrade at SPI next week when it officially launches its 1500V PV module, which has been engineered for both commercial- and utility-scale applications and delivers BoS cost reductions of around 3-4% compared to standard 1000V modules, the company claims.

The September issue of pv magazine explored this trend towards 1500V components in more depth. Click here to discover more.