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Solar Inverters

Application note
ULTRA inverter series
Operation with Positive-grounded or Negative-grounded PV arrays
Resistive grounding method

INDEX
1. Background
ULTRA Inverter with negative/positive resistive grounding kit and GFDI
System Operation With Resistive Grounding (100 )

2. System design requirements and operation of ULTRA Inverter with positive (negative) resistive
grounding kit and GFDI
3. What happens in case of a ground fault?
Case 1 Ground Fault on DC side
Case 2 Ground Fault on AC side

4. ULTRA Inverter equipped with Resistive Grounding Kit on negative polarity of each PV array

Date
2014-10-21
2014-11-19

Note
First release.
Second release

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 2

1. Background
Depending on module technology and environmental factors, PV systems may be required to operate with the
positive (+) or negative (-) polarity of the PV array connected to ground.
This specific array configuration is required in order to prevent long term performance degradation of PV modules,
respectively:
- Surface Polarization Effect developed by some All-Back Contact crystalline technologies, will require
positive grounding;
- PID=Potential Induced Degradation (developed by some crystalline module) can be prevented by grounding
the negative polarity of the array;
- TCO corrosion or Bar-Graph degradation, is affecting some amorphous technology (typically those made
with Superstrate Technology) and again requires a negative-grounded configuration for the array.
System designers shall carefully evaluate the PV module manufacturers technical documentation to verify if any of
the above grounding requirements shall be considered for their installation. The system grounding requirements also
affect the inverter configuration and step-up transformer arrangement.
ULTRA Inverter with negative/positive resistive grounding kit and GFDI
All inverter models in the ULTRA series are GALVANICALLY INSULATED from the grid by means of a step-up
transformer operating at line frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) and are suitable for operation with floating as well as with
positive (+) or negative (-) grounded arrays.
When used with resistive-grounded arrays (100 Ohm, protected by a 2A series fuse), the inverters shall be equipped
with additional hardware and control/protection fuctions optionally supplied by Power One as detailed below:
A 100R resistive grounding kit includes:
- The positive terminal (for positive-grounding) or negative terminal (for negative-grounding) of the arrays
connected to each 350kW (390kVA) inverter module will be INDEPENDENTLY wired to ground through a 100R
resistor (a 2A fuse is connected in series to protect the system in case of short circuit of the resistor);
- The 100R resistor and grounding provision will be INTEGRATED as a "resistive grounding kit in each 350kW
inverter compartment, together with sensing and GFDI ground fault detector (Ground Fault Detector and
Interrupter) protection hardware (control logic to detect ground faults);
- Thanks to the use of a 100R grounding resistor, IT IS POSSIBLE to maintain independent MPPTs and
independent ground paths for each 350kW inverter module. For this reason the inverter may be configured
as Multi-Master with each 350kW conversion module (2 to 4, depending on inverter model) connected
separately to a PV array and operating as a totally independent MPPT;
- One resistive grounding kit shall be installed for each 350kW (390kVA) conversion module. ULTRA-700.0,
ULTRA-1050.0 and ULTRA-1400.0 shall integrate respectively 2, 3 and 4 resistive grounding kits.

2. System design requirements and operation of ULTRA Inverter with positive (negative)
resistive grounding kit and GFDI
System Requirements
The transformer low voltage winding shall not be referenced to ground (ground reference already provided
via 100R grounding resistors installed on DC side of the inverter);
The PV arrays connected to all 350kW conversion module installed in the same inverter shall consist of the
same PV module type & model and the string length shall be the same among all arrays connected to the
different inverter modules. This requirement is particularly important, because it will prevent the build-up of
a residual offset voltage across each 100R grounding resistor;
In case multiple inverters shall be connected to the same transformer (for example 2xULTRA-1400.0 to a
3150kVA unit) the transformer may also be made with a simple secondary winding. In this case however all
arrays connected to both inverters shall fulfil the symmetry requirement specified above (same module,
same string length for all arrays). However it is in any case recommended to connect 2 separate inverters to a
separate secondary low voltage winding of the same transformer (or to different transformers), even if not
strictly necessary in case they share the same array configuration, in order to prevent the occurrence of
residual ground voltage offset on the referenced pole of the arrays;

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 3

If different inverter requires a different array sizing and string length that may produce different Vmp voltage
values during operation, the inverters shall be connected to a transformer equipped with SEPARATE Low
Voltage Windings.

OVERCURRENT PROTECTION LOCATION:

In accordance to the provisions set forth in IEC 62548, Ed. 1.0 2013-07 (Photovoltaic (PV) arrays
Design requirements) chapter 6.3.7, in systems that include a functional earth, the overcurrent
protective devices (i.e. fuses) required for PV strings and sub-array cables shall be placed:
In all unearthed conductors (i.e. all circuits not directly connected to the functional earth).
The inverter re-combiner configuration and string/array combiner selection shall take into account this
requirement:
-

ULTRA inverter with negative (positive) grounding kit option shall be equipped with DC-recombiner
fuses only on the positive (negative) unearthed polarity. The earthed polarity shall be populated
with neutral fuse links (blades).
DC combiner boxes shall also be equipped with string overcurrent protection on the positive
(negative) string inputs only, while the negative (positive) earthed polarity may be equipped with
neutral fuse links or directly connected to the common busbar.

System Operation With Resistive Grounding (100 )


A small residual voltage between the positive (negative) terminal of the array and ground, typically in the
range of 5V to 7V, will be present (avg. value, i.e. DC component). This voltage is produced across the 100R
grounding resistors by the combined effect of small PV array asymmetries (slightly different Vmp values of
the arrays connected to the independent inverter modules) and the residual current produced by the PV
array insulation resistance.
The following example and experimental data will be used to illustrate the operation of multiple ULTRA conversion
modules connected to independent arrays that are resistively-grounded and to explain the relationship between the
residual DC offset voltage to ground of the arrays grounded terminal and the array operating conditions.
The schematic below represents the typical arrangement of the 2 conversion modules of an ULTRA-700.0-TL (Inverter
module 350kW) operating in Multi-Master/independent MPPT configuration and equipped with 100 resistive
grounding kits on the negative terminal of each array.
This situation can be considered representative of the operating conditions of any other ULTRA model consisting of up
to 4 independent 350kW modules.

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 4

Inverter Module 350kW

Inverter Module 350kW

Grid

Cp

Cp

Lout

Lout

VDC4

PV1

PV2

VDC5
Cout

Cout

Cp

Cp

100R

100R

Vgr4

Vgr5

In this example the negative pole of the PV array connected to each independent 350kW conversion module (PV1 and
PV2) is tied to ground via a 100 resistor.

VDC4 is the operating MPP voltage of the inverter module connected to array PV1, while VDC5 is the MPP
voltage of the other inverter module, connected to the second array, i.e. PV2.
The voltage across each grounding resistor is respectively Vgr4 for the grounding kit connecting PV1 negative
terminal to ground and Vgr5 for the other kit connecting the negative terminal of PV2 to ground.
The DC (average) component of Vgr4 and Vgr5 is basically depending on the difference between VDC4 and
VDC5, i.e. the mismatch of the mpp voltage of the 2 independent arrays, PV1 and PV2.
The rms value of the AC component (ripple) of Vgr4 and Vgr5 is conversely depending on the overall stray
(leakage) capacitance Cp of the PV arrays.
In this example we have considered a value of Cp of 25uF for each 350kW PV field.

The same considerations and results are applicable also to the opposite case, when the positive terminal of each array
shall be grounded.
4 different cases have been analysed and tested experimentally, to cover a set of representative possible conditions
that may occur in the field, depending on the actual inverter configuration:
Case #

Configuration

Condition

Vdc4

Vdc5

Pout4

Pout5

Balanced PV fields

Low Irradiance

644V

647V

16kW

16kW

High Irradiance

629V

630V

350kW

350kW

Unbalanced PV fields
(Vmpp -100V)

Low Irradiance

635V

734V

16kW

16kW

High Irradiance

618V

715V

350kW

350kW

Unbalanced PV fields
(Vmpp +100V)

Low Irradiance

634V

535V

16kW

16kW

High Irradiance

617V

520V

350kW

310kW(*)

One module only

Low Irradiance

612V

16kW

High Irradiance

600V

350kW

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 5

Note:
(*) Module 5 in power limitation due to low input voltage

Case #1:
- Represents the most common and expected operating condition if all recommendations and guidelines listed
in this document have been properly addressed;
Case #2 and #3:
- Shall be considered worst case scenarios when 2 or more conversion modules belonging to the same
ULTRA inverter have been configured with different string lengths, generating a systematic voltage mismatch
Vmpp of approx.. 100V. Normally this situation will never occur if the inverter is configured as specified in
this document;
Case #4:
- Expected condition occurring whenever one or more conversion modules disconnect from the grid during
daytime system operation.

The following scope plots have been captured during the tests performed under the 4 different scenarios described
above. During the tests the voltage across each mppt input and on the 100 grounding resistors have been measured
and represented in the scope plots, together with the measured average and rms values.

Case #1: Balanced PV fields / Low Irradiance

Pout4/5=16kW
Vdc4 644V

Vdc5 647V

AvgVgr4 0V

AvgVgr5 0V

RmsVgr4 7V

RmsVgr5 7V

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 6

Case #1: Balanced PV fields / High Irradiance

Pout4/5=350kW
Vdc4 629V

Vdc5 630V

AvgVgr4 0V

AvgVgr5 0V

RmsVgr4 8V

RmsVgr5 10V

Case #2: Unbalanced PV fields (Vmpp -100V) /Low Irradiance

Pout4/5=16kW
Vdc4 635V

Vdc5 734V

AvgVgr4 +23Vdc

AvgVgr5 -23Vdc

RmsVgr4 25V

RmsVgr5 25V

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 7

Case #2: Unbalanced PV fields (Vmpp -100V) /Low Irradiance

Pout4/5=350kW
Vdc4 618V

Vdc5 715V

AvgVgr4 +23Vdc

AvgVgr5 -23Vdc

RmsVgr4 25V

RmsVgr5 25V

Case #3: Unbalanced PV fields (Vmpp +100V) /Low Irradiance

Pout4/5=16kW
Vdc4 634V

Vdc5 535V

AvgVgr4 -23Vdc

AvgVgr5 +25Vdc

RmsVgr4 25V

RmsVgr5 26V

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 8

Case #3: Unbalanced PV fields (Vmpp +100V) /High Irradiance

Pout4=350kW
Pout5=310kW(*)
Vdc4 617V

Vdc5 520V

AvgVgr4 -24Vdc

AvgVgr5 +25Vdc

RmsVgr4 26V

RmsVgr5 28V

(*) Module 5 in power limitation due to low input voltage

Case #4: One module only on-line / Low Irradiance

Pout4 =0kW
Pout5=16kW
Vdc4 0V

Vdc5 612V

AvgVgr4 0Vdc

AvgVgr5 0Vdc

RmsVgr4 0V

RmsVgr5 13V

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 9

Case #4: One module only on-line / High Irradiance

Pout4 =0kW
Pout5=350kW
Vdc4 0V

Vdc5 600V

AvgVgr4 0Vdc

AvgVgr5 0Vdc

RmsVgr4 0V

RmsVgr5 15V

Based on the experimental results and with reference to the following schematic, the operation of ULTRA inverter
series equipped with resistive grounding kits on the DC inputs can be summarized as follows:
1.
2.

The voltage across grounding resistances is independent from output power;


The average voltage drop across grounding resistances (i.e. DC component of the residual voltage on the
PV array grounded terminal, AvgVgr) depends from the differences between the PV field DC voltages
(maximum limit is 100V) while inverter modules are grid connected, in accordance to the following
relationship:

3.

Under all practical applications designed and operated in accordance with the guidelines included in this
application note, the residual voltage on the PV array grounded terminals is negligible, thus preventing
the inception or build-up of any significant module degradation phenomena. This also includes transient
conditions that may occur for example in case of disconnection of one or more sections of the PV system;
PV leakage capacitances impact only on rms voltage across the grounding resistances. In our experiments
we have considered a value of Cp as high as 70nF/1kW, much higher than the values normally
experienced on large scale free field installations with crystalline modules. Even with such high values
the residual ripple (AC component) across the resistors is limited to a few volts and however not relevant
for the performances of the solar modules.

4.

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 10

Inverter Module 350kW

Inverter Module 350kW

Grid

Cp

Cp

Lout

Lout

VDC4

PV1

PV2

VDC5
Cout

Cout

Cp

100R

Vgr4

Cp

100R

Vgr5

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 11

3. What happens in case of a ground fault?


To detect ground faults and protect the system, each resistive grounding kit is operating as follows.
Case 1 Ground Fault on DC side
In case a single ground fault on the DC side of one of the PV arrays is exceeding 1A (100V) the 350kW inverter
module that is connected to the faulty array will be shutting down and will be disconnected immediately
from the grid, thus preventing any influence to the rest of the system;
An alarm will be generated visually from the front panel (red warning light) and via communication protocol
(ground fault = E018);
The inverter module affected by the faulty array will remain disconnected from the grid until the fault will be
localized and properly cleared;
Should the fault current also exceed 2A, the fuse connected in series to the grounding resistor will operate
and clear the fault path;
ONLY the array affected by the ground fault (>2A) will be disconnected from ground, while the remaining
arrays connected to different inverter modules will remain effectively connected to ground via their own
100R grounding resistors;
While the inverter module connected to the faulty array cannot stay on line, the remaining 350kW inverter
modules will continue to inject power to the grid without any loss of efficiency and their PV arrays will
maintain their effective connection to ground via 100R resistors.

ULTRA-1400.0
E018

MPPT1
MPPT2

R
100

R
100

MPPT3
MPPT4

R
100

R
100

Case 1: ground fault on the DC side of one conversion module.


ONLY the inverter module that is connected to the faulty PV array will disconnect from the grid;
The inverter module will trip off-line and generate an alarm Ground Fault = E018;
A ground fault current exceeding 2A will be interrupted by clearing the 2A series fuse.

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 12

Case 2 Ground Fault on AC side


In case of ground faults on the AC side, all the conversion modules that are connected to the same AC system
affected by the fault will immediately shut down and disconnect from the grid;
At the same time, the ground fault current will also be cleared when exceeding the 2A series fuse rating;
An alarm will be generated visually from the front panel (red warning light) and via communication protocol
(ground fault = E018);
The inverter will not be able to connect to the grid until the fault will be localized and properly cleared.
ULTRA-1400.0

MPPT1
MPPT2

R
100

E018

R
100

MPPT3

MPPT4

R
100

R
100

Case 2: ground fault on the AC side


ALL the inverter modules that are connected to the same AC circuit (same TRX winding) will disconnect from
the grid;
The whole inverter will trip off-line and generate an alarm Ground Fault = E018;
The ground fault path will be interrupted when fault current exceeds 2A, by clearing the protection fuse
connected in series to the 100R grounding resistors.

PV modules system grounding requirements shall be verified before proceeding to the selection of the inverter type
and configuration.

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 13

4. ULTRA Inverter equipped with Resistive Grounding Kit on negative polarity of each PV
array

(*)

2A

R
100

Grounding
Kit
Ctrl Logic

(*)
Grounding Kit
Module #2

(*)
Grounding Kit
Module #3

(*)
Grounding Kit
Module #4

ULTRA
Resistive
Grounding Kit

+ / - PV Array Input

2A

INV. OFF / ALARM


V
I

(*) Replace with blades on the


functionally earthed polarity

R
100

GFD
OUT
Grounding Kit
Ctrl Logic

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 14

Resistive Grounding Kit ULTRA Inverter


Part Number

YVD.V0A90.0

Number of kits/ULTRA inverter

2x (ULTRA-700.0)
3x (ULTRA-1050.0)
4x (ULTRA-1400.0)

Connection

Negative or Positive Grounding

Grounding Method

Resistive 100 Ohm High Voltage Power Resistor

Protection

2A Fuse

Ground Fault Current Limit

2A

Max offset voltage of PV array grounded terminal

5-20V Typical operating value


100V Fault conditions

Typical trip time

< 200ms

Terranuova Bracciolini, November 19 - 2014


Ing. Marco Trova

__________________________
Technical Sales Director
Power Conversion
Product Group Solar
email: marco.trova@it.abb.com

Application Note | ULTRA solar inverter | Resistive Grounding Operation 15

ULTRA_Resistive Grounding Operation_Rev 2014-11-19

For more information contact your local ABB


representative or visit:
www.abb.com/solarinverters
Copyright 2014 ABB.
All rights reserved.
Specifications subject to change without notice.