It now seems like just a matter of time before 1500V systems become the industry standard in solar PV. GTM Research released a report in January claiming that 1500V systems should account for 9% of utility-scale PV installations in 2016, so it comes as good news that the worlds second largest PV inverter manufacturer has successfully connected a 1500V PV project to the grid.
The project in Xinjiang Province, China, has a total capacity of 30MW, and is using a mixture of 1000V and 1500V systems. The 1000V and 1500V solutions Sungrow provided in this case are designed using simplified systems that are easy to maintain once installed, said Professor Cao Renxian, CEO of Sungrow.
Sungrow has over 20GW of PV installations globally, which suggests that more 1500V systems might be connected by the company in the near future. The key benefits of using higher voltage inverters are cost reduction and increased efficiency.
Systems with higher voltages have longer string lengths, which allows for more modules to be connected, thus reducing the amount of cable needed. Upgrading from a 1000V system to a 1500V saves approximately 20% of cable costs, which amounts to a saving of about 3 cents US per watt.
The longer strings also reduce the number of balance of system components that are needed in the system, which can improve its electrical quality. Sungrow said that using 1500V in its systems improves them by over 1%.
Cost reduction to the solar sector is a key component to its continuing growth, which is why 1500V PV systems are expected by many to dominate the solar industry in the future. Last year saw solar module manufacturing giants GE and Suntech significantly increase their distribution of higher voltage modules, which gave the industry a good indication that 1500V will be the next step for solar PV.