Technology used in GE's wind turbines, known for proven performance and reliability, is now bringing similar benefits to large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Building on a platform of power electronics, monitoring and controls that enhance wind energy grid integration, GE has developed a 600 kW solar inverter, which includes grid-friendly features to deliver performance in large-scale solar installations similar to conventional power plants.
In order to ensure that solar power plants stay online, providing cleaner, more reliable energy, the variability needs to be managed so that it is more predictable-even during disturbances such as intermittent cloud cover.
GE's wind converters include control functions that enhance integration-a requirement to meet grid codes. SunIQ*, GE's suite of solar plant monitoring and controls, can manage voltage in a similar way. "As variable energy such as wind and solar continues to come online, there will be ongoing challenges with integrating into the grid," said Abate. "Solar integration will need to be managed in order to ensure that it operates as a 'good citizen' on today's grid."
While some software changes were needed to modify GE's wind converter technology for solar applications, the hardware has remained nearly the same, enabling GE to leverage its expertise in the manufacture of its extremely reliable wind converters.