Q&A with Ingeteam Power Technology

pv magazine: The new three-phase inverter from Ingeteam, the Ingecon Sun 100TL, is aimed at commercial, industrial and large-scale installations. Can you briefly describe what makes it so suitable for solar arrays of this type?

Lezana: This PV inverter provides 100 kW of rated power, which means that you just need 10 units to develop a 1 MW PV power plant. One of the main advantages of using this kind of inverter at utility-scale is having a greater availability than with central inverters (replacement is easier and faster in case of inverter failure, ensuring a quicker problem resolution and a smaller number of strings affected). Nevertheless, Ingeteam will offer two different inverter versions for the Ingecon Sun 100TL: the STD version, more intended for rooftop installations, and the PRO version, more intended for ground-mounted utility-scale projects.

pv magazine: By offering a higher power density and lower CAPEX (thanks to simplified cabling), the Ingecon SUN 100TL appears ideally suited for emerging solar markets in harsher environments – was this part of Ingeteam’s thinking when designing the inverter?

Lezana: Of course, but not only for emerging markets. Ingeteam’s engineers have designed this PV inverter in order to facilitate and optimise the use of string inverters in decentralised large-scale power plants, trying to offer its customers a more powerful inverter than any other. Thanks to its aluminum casing, its IP65 protection rating and its wide operating temperature range (from -25ºC to 60ºC), this inverter is perfectly suitable for any kind of project anywhere in the globe. Moreover, Ingeteam is aware of today’s market requirements in terms of cost reduction. Because of that, our R&D engineers are designing with the idea of gaining cost-competitiveness with no quality loss. As an example, this inverter does not require a neutral wire. This fact could seem irrelevant at first, but it sounds more important if we say that it can save up to a 20% AC cabling cost.

pv magazine: Can you explain how this new model delivers lower operating costs to system owners?

Lezana: On the one hand, this inverter features Wi-Fi communication as standard. Wireless communication not only reduces cabling costs, but it also fastens and facilitates several operations that technicians need to carry out (PV plant commissioning, monitoring and controlling). On the other hand, this inverter minimises any maintenance requirement, with no need to vacuum its interior or to check the state of the fuses, the thermal magnetic breaker or torque. Moreover, in case of inverter failure, replacement is so simple that there is no need of having it done by qualified technicians.

pv magazine: Does Ingeteam plan to market this three-phase inverter as a solution for +20 MW ground-mount solar arrays, ie, is this the company’s first real foray into using string at scale?

Lezana: Ingeteam features a wide experience using string inverters at utility-scale. In fact, Ingeteam’s first large-scale PV plant (1 MW), was developed by using single-phase string inverters. That project was built in the year 2001. The following year, a 3.4 MW PV plant was built with the same inverter series, and some time later (2007) Ingeteam’s first three-phase string inverters were used to build a 10 MW PV plant.

Nowadays, PV power plants have gone larger in scale and it is quite frequent to see different markets tendering 200 MW or more in a single solar project. Using string inverters instead of central inverters for multi MW power plants is an observable new trend in the market, so Ingeteam is obviously planning to market the Ingecon Sun 100TL as a solution for those projects too.

pv magazine: Logistically, how does shipping and serving high power string inverters differ to the freight and know-how required to ship Ingeteam’s more standard central inverters – what new challenges do you expect to face?

Lezana: The main difference between these kind of string inverters and central inverters is that high-power string inverters have a wider customer range, as they are aimed at large EPCs that would traditionally look for central inverters and also at distributors that would traditionally look for low-power string inverters. In the second case, logistics would not differ from other string inverters. But in the first case the equipment supply would be similar to a central inverter, i.e. inside a container directly shipped by truck, ship or plane, to the project site.