Supporting solar in the land of the rising sun

2015-12-14 - ABB has installed two PASS (Plug And Switch System) hybrid switchgear modules at a solar plant in Daigo, central Japan. The plant will help this country reach its target of 20 percent of its power generation from renewables by 2030.

Solar power is on the rise in Japan. In addition to being the world's fourth largest energy consumer, Japan is also the third largest producer of power from solar energy. By the end of 2014, Japan’s cumulative solar capacity had reached 23.3 gigawatts (GW), with only Germany (38.2 GW) and China (28.2 GW) producing more. And Japan’s photovoltaic generating capacity is set to grow further, with the country adding four to five gigawatts of new capacity annually.

Japan is striving to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix, and has announced the goal of reaching 20 percent of its power generation from renewable sources by 2030. The Japanese government is supporting attainment of this goal through measures including subsidies, incentives and a feed-in tariff.

The Daigo-based Fukuroda photovoltaic power plant where ABB’s PASS is installed can contribute to this overall shift: the plant has a generating capacity of 26 megawatts and is set to produce enough emission-free energy to power 10,000 Japanese homes.

Meeting time and space requirements

Large solar power plants deploy high-voltage switchgear as part of the system to facilitate evacuation of the generated energy to the grid. In 2014 Gestamp Solar, a leading developer and operator of such plants, commissioned ABB to supply two PASS 72.5-kilovolt hybrid switchgear modules for installation at the Fukuroda plant.

The equipment was selected based on its rapid installation and commissioning capability, as well as its space-saving features. PASS is a hybrid module that combines the benefits of air- and gas-insulated switchgear technologies, including the functions of an entire switchgear bay, in a single module, pre-assembled and pre-tested at the factory. The modules for Fukurada were engineered and manufactured according to the limited space available for the high-voltage bay.

The modules were installed and energized in only 20 hours each, after successfully passing an approval process requested by the Japanese utility TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). With the units meeting the highest Japanese seismic and pressure vessel standards, this ABB technology is now connected to the grid and supporting Japan in its shift towards solar.

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