First Solar, GE tout new design

First Solar and GE’s Power Conversion business say they are partnering to develop a more cost-effective and productive utility-scale PV power plant design.

It will combine 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, the companies say.

It also reduces the number of inverter/transformer stations required for each plant to convert the power from direct current to alternating current, and feed electricity to a commercial electrical grid.

The resulting plant design maintains high power delivery while lowering installation and maintenance costs, they claim.

“This is a significant step in establishing the next generation of utility-scale PV power plants,” says 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.”

He also notes 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.

Morjaria says that First Solar already has identified projects under construction for initial deployment of the new 1,500-volt system.

The 4MW ProSolar 1,500-volt station is the largest inverter in the industry capable of accommodating 1,500-volt DC solar arrays. This is 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.