Talking solar, energy storage, and inverter trends

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KSTAR is launching new products this year. Can you talk more about these?

We will launch several new products; a 1500V string inverter for large-scale applications, 1100V string grid-tied PV Inverter, and an all-in-one single-phase storage solution BluE Series. The 1500 V string inverter is for large utility-scale power plants. The 250 kW inverter offers an efficiency of 99%, for a European rating of 98.5%. It has 12 maximum power point tracking (MPPT) channels and 24 string inputs. For the hybrid inverter BluE series, combining KSTAR inverters with a CATL battery solution, the latest KSTAR all-in-one single-phase storage offering provides customers with an optimal experience.

With so many inverter manufacturers in the market, how do KSTAR PV solutions stand out from the competition?

Our smart PV technology solutions at KSTAR are loaded with innovation, and have been adopted worldwide. The powerful product GSM series installed for a 240 MW PV project in Ukraine, a 500MW PV project in Russia, and 320 MW solar-water-based power plant in Asia are all using our KSTAR DC 1500V Turnkey Solution. This incorporates a Max. DC/AC ratio up to 1.5, night SVG function, modular design for easy maintenance, and full power output under 50℃.

Moreover, we provide value-added services along with our inverters and ESS solutions all over the world. We have 18 professional teams in different countries, so we can support the local customers on time. The customer doesn’t need to worry about after-sales service. When purchasing our inverter and ESS solutions, our customers receive access to our wireless monitoring system, so any failure or problem is picked up rapidly and checked remotely. Based on our wealth of experience, most inverter problems can be fixed by upgrading firmware and can be done remotely from our online server, which greatly reduces site visits and saves time for our customers.

Battery storage systems are becoming increasingly important for PV installations. Where do you see the integration of solar PV and storage moving into the future – and what types of accompanying solutions are you offering to the market?

Battery storage is very important for both small rooftop installations and large solar farms; solar PV and battery storage create business opportunities for each other. As renewable energy installations boom, energy storage systems are coming with a great opportunity in 2020 and 2021. In the coming years, the MW-scale storage market will be significant.

KSTAR can provide large energy storage solutions, like GSE-MV Series Turnkey Solution GSE5000-MV, which is highly integrated, including integrated converter, step-up transformer (10kV/35kV), with lower system losses, and battery access management. GSE5000-MV is safe, reliable, and grid-friendly, with IP54 Protection rating, suitable for extreme outdoor environments, with effective forced air cooling, and 1.1 overload capacity.   For hybrid storage systems with CATL technology, our current product offerings provide up to 5kW for residential applications, and from 50kW up to 5000 kW for commercial and industrial applications; we have smart solutions available for different configurations.

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China is the largest market for KSTAR. What are your companies’ most significant overseas in 2020 and looking ahead into 2021?

For our company, we have experienced overseas markets emerging in 2020. For example, the residential and commercial markets in Europe and Korea; especially for energy storage products. We have done very well in both the new overseas PV & ESS markets and the traditional ones over the last few years. According to IHS Markit inverter reports, KSTAR was a global top 10 player.

We are expecting more outcomes from Europe and Australia in the utility-scale and energy storage market in 2021. For hybrid storage systems, with coming new products all-in-one solution BluE series with CATL technology, we are definitely seeing more opportunities in markets such as the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Australia. Our 1500V and 1100V string inverters will be penetrating more developing markets, such as the Middle East, Europe, and Korea.

How has your business been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic? Certain markets like Brazil, Mexico, India, South Africa, and the U.S. have been hit hard by the pandemic. How are these developments impacting your overseas business?

Our business is growing steadily this year although there is Covid-19 pandemic. We were influenced slightly by the Covid-19. Some major PV projects are delayed in Europe and the Middle East, but our ESS products developed in a joint venture with CATL sold well in Europe this year.

What greatly impacts our overseas business market is that we can’t easily visit our customers face-to-face, so we have often held online video meetings for discussions of cooperation, demands, and pre-sales and after-sales service from customers, training, the introduction of new products, etc. But actually, some customers order and pay for solar inverters and ESS directly after the online meetings.

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