Inverters play a crucial role in any solar energy system and are often considered to be the brains of a project, whether it’s a 2-kW residential system or a 5-MW utility power plant. An inverter’s basic function is to “invert” the direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC). AC is the standard used by all commercial appliances, which is why many view inverters as the “gateway” between the photovoltaic (PV) system and the energy off-taker. As the price of modules fall, inverters and additional system components have become a focus in price reduction for EPCs looking for a new competitive edge.
Inverters are an important part of any solar installation; they are the brains of the system. Although the inverter’s main job is to convert DC power produced by the solar array into usable AC power, its role is only expanding. Inverters enable monitoring so installers and owners can see how a system is performing. Inverters can also provide diagnostic information to help O&M crews identify and fix system issues. These important components are increasingly taking on decision-making and control functions to help improve grid stability and efficiency.
Additionally, given the amount of time it can take to complete larger solar projects, some solar inverter manufacturers have begun developing larger, 1,000-V inverters to drive down costs. As projects grow in size, so do the costs associated per inverter. Right now, depending on the efficiency of the modules, a 2-MW project probably amounts to between 10 and 15 acres of panels. Such a system requires an inverter with much larger capabilities than current standard inverters have. The solution is to transition to 1,000 V to reduce that cost.