ABB’s new 50 kW string inverters power one of the UK’s largest solar parks

Valdarno / Munich, June 17, 2016 - BayWa r.e. chooses ABB’s TRIO-50.0 for its largest decentralized PV plant

One of the UK’s largest solar park projects, spanning 1 km2 (88 hectares), is the first to use ABB’s new TRIO-50.0 string inverters to convert the sunlight into 46 MWp for supply to 11,500 homes.

Vine Farm solar park has a total of 146,572 photovoltaic (PV) modules arranged into individual strings. Alongside some 435, TRIO-50.0 units, which connect 10 strings, the solar park is also using 341, TRIO-27.6 and 351, TRIO-20.0 inverters to connect a further 10 strings each.

Built by German renewable energy company BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbHin South Cambridgeshire, the solar park is one of six that the company has commissioned in the UK in 2016It is the largest decentralized PV project for ABB and BayWa r.e.. Construction of Vine Farm solar park began in October 2015, taking seven months to complete.

To date BayWa has constructed solar and wind farms in the UK with a total output of over 390 MWp.

High power string inverter

The TRIO-50.0 is ABB’s new generation string inverter and expands its three-phase portfolio up to 50 kW. The transformer-less inverter was chosen, along with the TRIO-27.6 and TRIO-20.0, for their nominal power capabilities and their ability to work with the same communication protocol, both of which are important benefits for decentralized installations greater than 100 kW, such as the utility-scale Vine Farm.

Relationship with BayWa

For several years ABB has used BayWa r.e.’s sites as a proving ground for its inverters while adapting the technology to its customer’s specific plant designs. “At 46 MW this is a big solar park where the concept and reliability of the TRIO-50s are being proven for such installations,” says ABB’s Jari Tukia, Global Vice-President marketing and sales, Power Conversion, speaking at the opening of the solar park in May. “This is one of the first large scale installations for our brand new TRIO-50.0 and will be a focus for string inverters used in such installations in the future.”

Energy harvesting

TRIO-50.0 has a two-stage topology with lower minimum input voltage, meaning higher flexibility and energy production yield.

“One benefit of using the TRIO-50 in this large scale solar power plant is that it can improve energy harvesting on cloudy days,” says Tukia. “If a cloud is coming over the solar farm it will not affect all the solar panels at the same time. Because each inverter covers a smaller area of the solar modules, it can improve energy harvest on cloudy days or a hilly location.”

“The TRIO-50.0 gives a much higher DC/AC ratio of up to 130 percent without any effect on the product’s warranty,” explains Donny George, ABB’s account manager for BayWa r.e. “This gives us a cost advantage and also a better energy yield over the years, which results in an improved return on investment for the investor.”

Ease of installation

The inverter’s ease of installation, commissioning and maintenance are of particular benefit to a site the size of Vine Farm. Installation and commissioning are simplified due to the low weight of the string inverters. “BayWa r.e. bases its design around string inverters,” says Tukia. “This is their concept on how best to roll out standard solutions from project to project. They are using the TRIO-50.0 because it offers easy installation and maintenance while making life cycle management of the plant relatively straightforward.”

Giacomo Bambi, ABB’s TRIO-50.0 product manager adds: “Installation only needs two people and no machinery. There is no civil construction required. Minimal expertise is needed to commission the equipment as a string inverter is easy to swap out; a non-technical person can make the change and get the plant up and running. This all amounts to a fast and low-cost installation. As such, the TRIO-50.0 is the ideal solution for large plants using a distributed concept.”

Speaking at Vine Farm’s opening in May this year, Mr Christof Thannbichler, managing director of BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH says: “ABB’s TRIO-50.0 means that we have the right power size to fit perfectly into our system designs. The design of the inverter itself is good for installation at big utility PV sites. For instance, the weight of the box and how easy it is to handle it at the construction site and place it within the PV installation, makes it particularly well suited for our installations. At BayWa r.e., simplicity and standardization across our projects is key.

“There are two main advantages of designing our installations around string inverters. Firstly, they offer easy, efficient installation which is good for our initial setup costs. And, secondly, the ongoing operation and maintenance costs are considerably lower in this configuration than you would have in a more centralized situation,” Thannbichler continues.

Modular design

The TRIO-50.0 features three compartments: a central part consisting of the inverter itself and two detachable lateral compartments, one for the DC connection upstream (toward the photovoltaic plant) and the other for the AC downstream (toward the grid). Mounting and dismantling are simplified by having the total weight divided over three separate units. Maintenance is simpler and more cost-effective, making it possible to substitute the inverter module alone, while keeping the two connection elements wired.

Bambi observes: “The TRIO-50.0 is not just a power converter but also includes a complete string combiner and an AC wiring box with AC switch and overvoltage surge protection. With its ability to remain separately wired from the inverter module, replacing a module means other connections remain intact, thereby simplifying maintenance.”

Future cooperation

Regarding future cooperation with ABB, Thannbichler comments: “ABB is a very good partner for us with regards to our internationalization plans. As we build up our solar business outside of Europe, ABB can be an approved partner for us, especially in new markets.”

“ABB is fully committed to the solar business,” says Tukia. “We are a large company that is globally represented. We are collaborating with our customers worldwide to ensure we are investing in R&D that brings forward new products which are what the solar industry needs to be successful. In this way we can make sure that we, and our customers, benefit together.

“As demonstrated by our 125-year history, ABB is a bankable company and we see a bright future for solar in the decades to come. We are committed to supporting our customers in their ambitions to deliver clean energy at sustainable costs.”

For more information about ABB solutions for the solar industry, visit www.abb.com/solarinverters

A video about the new TRIO-50.0 string inverters can be found on the ABB YouTube channel.

About ABB
ABB (www.abb.com) is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables utility, industry, and transport & infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.



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BayWa chooses ABB’s TRIO-50.0 for its largest decentralized PV plant.


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    • Silvia Pieri
      Marketing Communications
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