The photovoltaic inverter design to obtain the efficiency and reliability desired for utility-scale and large-scale installations is gradually gaining acceptance. The popularity of utility scale PV inverters is expected to increase, given the rising approvals for solar projects in prominent regions including the United States.
For example, in May 2020, the Department of the Interior and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) approved a proposal to construct and operate a 690-MW utility-scale solar project as well as ancillary facilities over 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Furthermore, the renewable energy sector is continuing to witness positive growth despite setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to utility scale PV inverter market expansion.
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According to data from Down to Earth, 2020 was a year of commendable growth for the global clean energy sector, with 256-GW of renewable power-generating capacities being added over the year. In addition, Asia accounted for over 60% of the solar PV capacity additions for the 8th consecutive year, which could boost the requirement for solar PV inverters in the region’s utility-scale power plants.
Burgeoning research and launch of PV string inverter designs
Inverters are considered critical to solar power generating systems, although they account for roughly 5% of project costs. Among other product designs, PV string inverters are rapidly gaining traction for utility-scale projects owing to flexible and scalable technology advancements. Leading commercial inverter suppliers are also introducing a range of efficient string inverter series.
To cite an instance, in January 2022, Yaskawa Solectria Solar unveiled a series of string inverters, dubbed Solectria XGI 1500-250, for utility-scale PV power plants. This device was designed with an efficiency of 99% as well as a California Energy Commission efficiency of 98.5%. It was also built to operate with a maximum power input voltage range of 860-V to 1250-V and a maximum system voltage of 1,500-V. Initiatives such as these could augment the demand for PV inverter components for large-scale projects.
Additionally, there have been increasing research activities to evaluate the performance of PV string inverters. In November 2021, researchers from the University of Limoges compared the PR (performance ratio) of 100 photovoltaic systems equipped with micro-inverters with that of 100 installations relying on central or string inverters. It was discovered that the PR was around 79% for both typologies; however, micro-inverters were more sensitive to environmental factors, thus boosting the popularity of utility-scale PV central or string inverters.
Escalating renewable capacity additions to reach carbon neutrality in the APAC region
The generation of electricity from solar panels and other renewable technologies is on course to expand in the Asia Pacific. According to the International Energy Agency, China remains the global leader in terms of renewable capacity additions and is projected to reach 1200-GW of total solar and wind capacity in 2026, 4 years earlier than the current target of 2030. Moreover, capacity additions in India are anticipated to grow considerably, doubling new installations as compared with 2015-2020, which -could stimulate the use of utility-scale solar inverters.
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The Asia Pacific countries have also been setting significant targets to reach carbon neutrality over the years. According to the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water, India announced an expanded target of 500-GW of non-fossil power capacity, half of the energy from renewables, emission reduction by 1 billion tons, and a 45% reduction of CO2 emissions intensity by 2030.
With the rising emphasis on curbing carbon emissions, the development of large-scale renewable projects to generate electricity will likely grow, positioning the Asia Pacific is as a lucrative revenue pocket for the utility scale PV inverter market over the coming years.