Large-scale PV power plants are capable of providing ancillary services to the utility grid and are able to ensure grid stability. These are the findings of the first ancillary services test ran on a PV power plant in Chile. The activities put to the test in real time were the capabilities of the 141 MW PV power plant Luz del Norte in the Atacama desert equipped with SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) Sunny Central 800CP-XT inverters, which offer advanced grid management functions. The test was carried out by Engie Laborelec Chile, a leading expertise and research center in electrical power technology, and by First Solar, a global energy solutions provider.
In addition to testing functions such as Rapid Frequency Control and Rapid Voltage Control, the PV power plant’s connection to the Automatic Generation Control (AGC) system of the National Electric system was simulated.
“We are very happy that our Sunny Central 800CP-XT inverters equipped with advanced grid management functions made this test a success. In addition, our local service team provided excellent support to set up the necessary inverter parameters for the test requirements,” said Daniel Rosende, General Manager, SMA South America. “We are convinced that the optimal integration of solar electricity into the power grid can ensure grid stability with a stable supply of solar power, while increasing the use of renewable energy. Our Sunny Central inverters offer both an intelligent interface to the utility grid and decentralized grid management services, including remote-controlled power reduction, active power control, voltage stability with reactive power, reactive power at night and dynamic grid support.”
“This test is a milestone because it shows the photovoltaic plants’ ability to provide ancillary services to the power grid,” said Hugo Vits, asset management director for First Solar in Latin America. “In addition, it served to show the capacity of Engie Laborelec and First Solar for joint coordination, combining forces to carry out a test benefiting the renewable electric power industry and, in general, the country´s entire electrical industry.” In addition, Sebastian Falkenberg, Engie Laborelec Chile´s Chief Executive Officer, explained “this test performed by two unrelated industry leaders comes at a time when in Chile and other parts of the world there is an ongoing discussion about the creation of an ancillary market. With this test, we would like to guarantee that renewable energies can actively participate”.
Dr. Patricio Valdivia, an associate researcher at Fraunhofer Chile Research and professor of electrical engineering department at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, explained: “This test is very important, since it shows that renewable energies, by way of research and development, have been able to break frequency regulation paradigms. In classic electrical engineering, we usually speak of reserved frequency regulation mostly as regards hydraulic generation for its capacity for inertial regulation and water resource storage capacity. Now, it has been tried that new concepts such as rapid frequency and voltage regulation are being developed, emerging from renewable energies from research and development of new technologies in power electronics and automatic control," added the researcher.
The SMA Group with sales of around €1 billion in 2016 is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV plants. SMA offers a wide range of products and solutions that allow for high energy yields for residential and commercial PV systems and large-scale PV power plants. To increase PV self-consumption efficiently, SMA system technology can easily be combined with different battery technologies. Intelligent energy management solutions, comprehensive services and operational management of PV power plants round off SMA’s range. The company is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, is represented in 20 countries and has more than 3,000 employees worldwide, including 500 working in Development. SMA’s multi-award-winning technology is protected by more than 1,000 patents and utility models. Since 2008, the Group’s parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and is currently the only company in the solar industry that is listed in the TecDAX index.
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