News in Brief

Module Test Bed

Canadian Solar has announced the delivery of 1 MW of its ELPS modules for a research and testing plant – installed by Nordwest Solar – in Emsland in Germany. In the various zones of the 3 ha solar park, different characteristics of solar modules will be tested with the aim of increasing efficiency. The research and testing plant was initiated by the Institut fur Erneuerbare Energien GmbH & Co KG (IEE), 3N-Kompetenzzentrum Niedersachsen Netzwerk Nachwachsende Rohstoffe and the municipality Werlte. Groshandelszentrum fur Photovoltaik Redpoint Solar GmbH was selected as supplier for the system components of the solar testing field.

5O MW PAK Project

Conergy has joined forces with Ensunt to develop a 50 MW solar power plant for the DACC Power Generation Company Limited (DPGCL) in Pakistan. The project in Bahawalpur, situated in the Cholistan region, is owned by DPGCL and the Pakistani government and will be the largest solar plant in the country. Conergy will be supplying components, Ensunt will provide the local implementation as well as the construction work on site. Once completed, 210,000 Conergy PowerPlus modules will produce an estimated 78 GWh per year. More than 140 Conergy IPG 300C central inverters will then feed the solar power into Pakistan’s grid. In a related development, Conergy is also to develop a 10.5 MW solar on the Linslerhof estate, owned by the von Boch investor family, in the German region of Saarland, near the French border.

Solar Lab Developers

GE, the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM, are developing a method to forecast the remaining life time of power electronics. The achievements so far of the still ongoing joint CoMoLeFo project (Condition Monitoring fur Leistungselektronik in der Fotovoltaik or Condition Monitoring for Power Electronics in Photovoltaics) are identification and detection of relevant aging mechanisms of Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) power modules. Algorithms and measuring data will enable a forecast of the remaining life time of an IGBT and therefore condition-based maintenance. Other companies involved in the project sponsored by TSB Berlin with RDF funds include imc Messysteme GmbH and Elbau Elektronik Bauelemente GmbH. Meanwhile, Alstom Grid and French state-owned research entity CEA-INES (Institut national de l’energie solaire) have announced the creation of a joint Research and Development Centre in Chambery, France. The alliance has been put in place in a bid to accelerate the deployment of embedded storage into smart grid systems and facilitating further introduction of renewables.

Solar Investor Star

Investments in solar power overtook those in wind power for the first time in 2011, and the latest deals suggest this is only the start, says a new GlobalData report. As the report explains, renewable energy is becoming increasingly important in developing nations across North Africa and Asia, and with such a readily available and abundant source, it’s solar power that’s attracting the big money. In China a series of solar projects have been declared to meet the demand from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), but also to fulfill its own requirements. Notably, Shandong province is currently implementing its ‘One Million Rooftops Sunshine Plan’, with the stated goal of stimulating the integration of solar. Now emerging markets across MENA, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia are aiming to grow their renewable energy production with an increased presence in the solar sector. The UAE and Algeria, among several other MENA nations, are focusing their renewable energy efforts in solar power, India’s National Solar Mission will drive investment, and the Malaysian government has set a renewable target of more than 3140 MW by 2020, with solar expected to account for a third, the report says. This new focus has upped demand for modules, set to be met by manufacturers in southeast Asia. The authors expect Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and in particular China to be the major equipment manufacturers in the years to come.

Omron Remodels Relays for Solar

Omron Electronic Components Europe has re-engineered two relay families to address the very specific characteristics required for grid-connected solar PV applications. Grid tied inverters use pairs of monostable grid protection relays. The key challenges in the design of these relays are that their power consumption has to be extremely low yet they need to operate very quickly when required under hot start conditions. Omron has engineered its ranges specifically to meet these requirements, with an operating time of typically 20 ms.

GE’s Latest Inverter

GE has deployed its first 1500 V DC open circuit (OC) central inverter for utility-scale solar power plants. The company’s power conversion business – formerly Converteam until acquired in September 2011 – developed, built and delivered the ProSolar central inverter for system integrator Belectric, which installed the device at its new solar power plant in southern Germany. The inverter is an outdoor version and due to higher operating voltage and higher output, the company says it offers higher power density and better partial load efficiency.

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