Discussions about efficiency in the solar world tend to hang on figures referring to solar cell and module efficiency. But the equipment that connects those cells and modules to the grid is just at important.
“You don’t want to purchase an inverter based on the upfront cost,” said Casey Miller, director of solutions marketing for Advanced Energy.
An inverter is every bit as important as the solar panels it connects to, Miller said.
“It has to be reliable,” he said. “It has to work for the life of the system, for 20 years. And it has to be efficient.”
Every watt an inverter loses is lost benefit. It adds up, Miller said. It could ultimately make a huge difference in the amount of energy that gets from production to the line and on to the owner’s bank account.
Advanced Energy, based in Oregon, showcased a suite of its renewable energy management tools at Solar Power International with warm receptions.
The company has been developing power conversion devices for thin films for more than 30 years, Miller said. But it just started to get into the solar business in 2007. It was a natural transition, he said. And now it’s a large part of the company’s business.
Advanced Energy acquired solar company PV Powered and brought out new and advanced joint-venture technologies in 2010.
Miller said the company focuses on quality and service.
“We feel like this is a market that will be around for a long time,” he said. “And we want to provide the best customer experience out there.”
He said Advanced Energy’s equipment is not the cheapest option, but it is quality and is well supported.
The company showcased its HE String Line of string inverters for residential installations. It incorporates a wireless management system, which cuts down on installation costs because there are no wires to connect.
It also presented its PV Powered 500 and Solaron 500 1,000-volt inverters. Both of those are recognized for their high 98 percent efficiency ratings.
“We’re also driving down the wiring costs,” Miller said.
The PV Powered 500 is designed for large-scale commercial solar installations, while the Solaron is being marketed for utility-scale projects.
The company also introduced a new AE Solar Plant Controller, which allows utilities to reach into solar plants and digitally control what happens there, Miller said.
“As far as I know, it’s a first of market technology,” he said.
Image courtesy of Advanced Energy.