Sungrow’s major launch at Intersolar Europe in their utility string inverter range is the SG350HX, a three-phase 352 kVA device billed as one of the world’s most powerful string inverters. Already available in China and India, Sungrow is bringing the upgrade to the SG250HX in mid-2022 for utility-scale solar projects.
The added power capacity of the SG350HX was driven by the increasing use of large-format high-efficiency and bifacial PV modules. A maximum input current of 20A, each string provides easier use of modules with power ratings of 600 W and above, and supports a single block design as large as 8.96 MW.
It weighs approximately 111 kg, with 99.01% efficiency, a European efficiency rating of 98.8%, and max voltage of 1500V DC. The SG350HX retains the IP66 rating of the SG250HX.
pv magazine spoke with Javier Blanco, Technical Director for PV Business with Sungrow EMEA, at Intersolar Europe, about the SG350HX, and emerging trends in the market driving larger, more powerful string inverters.
“The point in power conversion equipment is to increase power density. It’s the way to be competitive as a manufacturer and to make our customers competitive too. And the main reason we’ve stepped up is larger modules, 600W and above,” said Blanco.
And with larger modules and designs adding more power, everything must step up. “If you want to keep the same PV plant layout, inverters placed in the same position as in the previous designs, there is actually more DC power connected to each inverter. Inverters have to be more powerful, as well as the substations, in order to keep the CapEx of the BoS low,” he said.
“We keep the same number of MPPTs [12, as in the SG250HX] simply because the modules are bigger. It’s a scale that comes more from the increase in the power of the modules than the inverter design itself. You see the configuration: 24 strings per inverter, 28 inverters per station. When the 250HX was designed in 2018, the mainstream module sizes were something around 450W, now they’re 650W and over. It’s been quite a rapid change.”
Blanco suggested that the future looks like it may go beyond the current 1500V DC max input voltage, with a step-up in voltage: 2000V DC would keep the competitiveness of the technology high, though IEC regulation inside Europe is “not yet at that stage,” meaning “significant challenges exist.” Outside of Europe, Blanco said a max 2000V DC pilot project in China shows a path to a possible future.
LCOE advantages are present with the SG350HX. “CapEx will be reduced, with fewer inverters needed for the same pavement, less labor. OpEx will also be reduced because there are fewer units to maintain of course, so there’ll be a progressive version of LCOE with us,” continued Blanco.
Asked about trends in the industry popping up at Intersolar, Blanco confirmed increased technical interest in energy storage solutions offered alongside solar installations, and more talks where wind operators are seeking to add complimentary solar. He also mentioned a likely future trend, where solar, wind, and storage are combined, bringing fresh challenges to manufacturers.
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