GE launches Silicon Carbide for solar efficiency
New technology showcased at Intersolar Middle East exhibition will enable region’s solar industry to ramp up efficiency and productivity
GE (NYSE: GE) has unveiled its groundbreaking new Silicon Carbide technology that will strengthen the efficiency of the region’s solar energy production. This follows the introduction by GE of 1,500 volt inverters that are poised to take a strong share of the utility scale market, and underlines its constant innovation and strong understanding of customer challenges.
Enabling the renewables industry to gain in efficiency while lowering the cost of electricity, GE’s Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology promises unprecedented power conversion efficiency levels. SiC is the defining feature of GE’s latest LV5+ Series Solar Inverter, which increases the power conversion efficiency to 99 percent weighted European Union level (EU level). Higher power conversion efficiency means more annual energy production (AEP) from the same renewable energy resource. The efficiency increase is equivalent to US$2.5million additional energy generation over the lifetime of a 100MW solar plant.
The filter-less air-to-air heat-exchanger system enables the LV5+ Solar Inverter to enjoy a simpler design and high reliability. This can translate into OPEX savings of approximately US$300,000 over the lifetime of a 100-megawatt (MW) power plant.
The new technology is being showcased by GE at its booth Z6 B48 at Intersolar Middle East held until September 21, 2016, at the Dubai World Trade Center. On Sept. 20, GE’s engineering experts will discuss the features of Silicon Carbide at a workshop at 10.30am on ‘Silicon Carbide: Enabling a New Generation of Highly Efficient Utility Scale Inverters.’ At 4.30pm, they will also join on a panel discussion that will discuss solar power possibilities in the age of innovation.
In addition to the new inverter solution, GE will also showcase its new LV5+ eHouse Solution with the SiC inverter sitting at its core. The eHouse solution installs the entire solar skid into a container, providing the base and protection for the equipment, and saving logistic cost. Its “sleep feature” smartly disconnects transformers at night, eliminating no-load losses which can provide customers US$800,000³ of savings over the lifetime of a 100MW solar plant. As it is operated in a highly controlled way, stress on the system is minimized, which help equipment achieve a longer lifespan.
The pre-assembled and pretested solar container requires minimal field work during installation on-site, which greatly reduces risk and time needed during commissioning.
Dalya Al Muthanna, President & CEO of GE Gulf, said: “The UAE is setting a model in energy diversification with a focus on tapping clean energy sources to meet the growing demand for power and to promote sustainable development. Solar energy figures prominently in this new energy narrative, and is underlined by the successful launch of solar parks that contribute to the national grid.
“The UAE Vision 2021 and the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, highlight the firm commitment of the nation to promote renewable energy. Dubai alone aims to generate 25 percent of its energy from solar by 2030. A key strategy in further strengthening the solar sector is to reduce the price of solar power by cutting costs during operation. GE is supporting this through our advanced LV5+ solar inverters that can increase efficiency and are designed to endure higher temperatures in the Gulf region.”
GE already supports the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest of its kind in the region by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, with its 220MW LV5 series solar inverters that have been designed for the specific requirements to meet local environmental conditions of the Middle East region.
The new SiC inverter units will deliver more customer value and provide a reliable integrated system solution. With the introduction of this SiC technology, solar power will be more competitive in the global energy mix, and will be a step closer to become a subsidiary-free energy source.
SiC is a synthetically produced crystalline compound of silicon and carbon. Its physical properties enable lower switching losses which help to convert power more efficiently. In addition, lower losses enable more compact power conversion solutions–managing the power in smaller footprint when compared to silicon based solutions– resulting in a significant increase in power density. Its ability to convert electric power at higher efficiencies makes it the ideal substitute for traditional semiconductors, and is setting a new standard of energy conversion efficiency in the renewables industry.
“SiC will be a game changer for the solar industry, helping the industry reach unprecedented efficiency. We anticipate that our SiC technology will soon be widely integrated in solar power inverters, and will elevate the solar industry in the Middle East to reach new levels,” said Fadi Nassif, Regional Sales Leader for GE’s Power Conversion business.
Combined with the in-depth industrial expertise available in house from its Global Research Centers, GE brings SiC from consumer markets to industry-scale machines. Today, GE’s Power Conversion business is helping the industry to further drive down levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). This cross-pollination of knowledge – called the ‘GE Store’ – is the strength of GE.
GE’s solar solutions combine energy and cost analysis with predictive modeling to determine the best design for the sites. A dedicated team handles every aspect of the solar project, including design, development, construction, operations & maintenance, and financing. The solar solutions portfolio comprising rooftop systems, carport solar, ground-mount systems, fixed-tilt and tracking systems, Energy storage solutions, and EV charging stations among others complement the region’s requirements.