First Solar, Inc. and GE’s Power Conversion business are utilizing their recently established technology and commercial partnership to develop a more cost-effective and productive utility-scale PV power plant design that combines First Solar’s thin-film CdTe modules with GE’s new ProSolar 1,500-volt inverter/transformer system.
First Solar has integrated new technology into its modules and optimized them for 1,500-volt DC applications. Combined with GE’s 4-megawatt (MW) ProSolar 1,500-volt inverter/transformer stations, this development enables power plant engineering design that significantly increases the size of the solar array served by each inverter and reduces the number of inverter/transformer stations required for each plant to convert the power from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and feed electricity to a commercial electrical grid. The resulting plant design maintains high power delivery while lowering installation and maintenance costs.
“This is a significant step in establishing the next generation of utility-scale PV power plants,” said Mahesh Morjaria, First Solar’s vice president of product management. “Partnering with an industry giant such as GE, we are able to take our power plant design to the next level and bring additional value to our customers.” Morjaria also noted that future generations of First Solar modules will increase optimization, benefiting from advances gained in part from the acquisition last fall of GE thin-film PV technology.
“GE is known throughout the industry as an established leader in power generation technology. With our ProSolar inverters, we were able to draw from our experience developing and manufacturing technology for traditional power plants to create a highly efficient solution with industry-leading capabilities,” said Joe Mastrangelo, CEO of GE Power Conversion. “The inverters’ design enables our customers to apply engineering design that significantly increases efficiency of energy production. Together with First Solar, we can help customers get the most out of their solar power systems.”
Morjaria said that First Solar already has identified projects under construction for initial deployment of the new 1,500-volt system. The 4-MW ProSolar 1,500-volt station is the largest inverter in the industry capable of accommodating 1,500-volt DC solar arrays, which is a major factor in utilizing economies of scale by significantly increasing the array size and reducing the number of inverters required by a solar power plant.