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Cost optimal sizing of photovoltaic inverters-
Influence of new grid codes and cost reductions



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4 authors, including:

Thomas Stetz Martin Braun
Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen Universität Kassel


Bernd Engel
Technische Universität Braunschweig


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Similar requirements already exist for Meteonorm® data was only available in 1 hour average the connection and parallel operation of generators values which had to be interpolated in order to get 1 connected to the medium voltage network [4]. including analyses according the used reactive power supply (2) SMA Solar Technology AG. The Meteonorm® transformation However. Koenigstor 59.uni-kassel. the recent draft of the guideline “generators irradiation and the local temperature (provided by connected to the low voltage distribution network” [3] Meteonorm® and by Fraunhofer IWES) to calculate the will most likely aim at an obligation for PV systems to DC power output depending on its location. current regulatory in the following. This paper presents the latest result on an method. D-34266 Niestetal. 1 INTRODUCTION 2 SIMULATION ASSUMPTIONS Today. voltage limitations run the risk of being violated in times of high solar irradiation.INFLUENCE OF NEW GRID CODES AND COST REDUCTIONS - T. The PV inverter model uses the DC power PDC as its the imminent regulatory developments clearly demand input variable. Sonnenallee 1. Fax +49(0)561/7294-400. factor on the total additional costs [6]. COST OPTIMAL SIZING OF PHOTOVOLTAIC INVERTERS . The coupling (PCC). rises. with a temporal resolution of 1 minute. Stetz1. the size of photovoltaic (PV) inverters is The calculations regarding an optimized inverter sizing economically optimized with respect to pure active are performed using Matlab® from MathWorks. Internet: http://www. A PV module model and a PV inverter model were developed in Matlab®. Finally. economically optimized inverter sizing under consideration of reactive power provision. its supply reactive power at their points of common orientation and the module technology. Thereby. Amongst others. Germany Phone +49(0) 561/95 22-0. In section 3. . Engel2 (1) Fraunhofer IWES. especially year of the used Meteonorm® data is 1997. the sizing recording year of the own measurement data in Kassel is of the inverters could be identified as a major influencing 1997. The basic With the steadily increasing number of installed PV framework conditions for the calculations are discussed systems in distribution systems. due to a high simultaneous Photovoltaic system model active power feed-in by PV systems. a A PV module model and a PV inverter model were set up decentralized provision of reactive power by PV systems. based on real one-year solar irradiation profiles provided by Meteonorm® and recorded at Fraunhofer IWES test sites. For this reason. The single cost categories of a PV inverter are introduced and discussed with respect to an economically optimized sizing considering reactive power supply. is currently under discussion. Fax +49(0) 561/95 22-100. All power feed-in. Braun1. often leading to undersized inverters in results are based on one-year quasi-static calculations areas with moderate climate [1]. in Matlab® to simulate the behavior of real PV systems in order to counteract those unallowable high voltage with different specifications (Figure 1). the different cost categories are listed and the results of the reference scenario are shown. In Germany. Cost-Optimal Sizing. The PV inverter itself is specified by its for a new cost-optimal approach for the sizing of PV measured efficiency and the used reactive power supply inverters. Künschner1. The recording commitment would lead to additional costs. including the PV system model. [2]. the results of different sensitivity analyses are discussed in section ABSTRACT: In this paper the economically optimized inverter sizing is determined for PV inverters which have to provide reactive power. its orientation and future cost and price inverter model. E-mail: tstetz@iset. J. M. recent studies have shown that such a model was used for the interpolation [7]. The investigated reactive power supply methods follow the suggestions in the German technical guideline for the connection of generators to the medium voltage network and the recent draft of the technical guideline for the connection to the low voltage network. Germany Phone +49(0)561/7294-284. for the PV module model uses time series for the local solar example. B. The results show that the sizing of a PV inverter has to be adapted to the respective reactive power supply methods in order to keep it economically optimized.sma. Reactive Power. Because of this. D-34119 Kassel. Keywords: Inverter. the location of the Figure 1: Schematic of the PV module model and the PV PV system. minute time series. developments. the used reactive power supply methods and the specification of the reference scenario. Section 2 introduces the simulation assumptions. The for the operators of PV systems [5].

The specific additional losses ΔpL SMA Sunny Mini [kW/ kVA] can be calculated solving a recursive PV Inverter Central TL algorithm introduced in [8]. The Different versions of the cosφ(PDC) function and the average of all voltage values is 0.3% Reimbursement PV for energy 0. have to be taken into account for the determination of an economically optimized inverter sizing under consideration of reactive power provision. Cinv = S ⋅ c [€ ] (1) Figure 3: Investigated Q(U) characteristics with and To calculate the annual investment costs it is necessary to without deadband. reference scenario. The blue line • A cosφ(PDC) function and marks those voltage values which occurred during 95% • A Q(U) droop function of the simulation time. created by performing one year load flow supply methods are distinguished.95 is considered. Max. Figure 4 shows the bandwidth of the used For this investigation.Reactive power supply methods inverter model. Table 1: Specification of the reference scenario Costs by additional inverter losses: Providing reactive Location Kassel.7% / 97. three different kind reactive power voltage profile.3405 €/ kWh 2 2 2 Specific investment costs 320 €/ kVA ⎛ P (t ) ⎞ ⎛ Q(t ) ⎞ ⎛ ⎛ PAC (t ) ⎞ ⎛ Q(t ) ⎞ ⎞ Reactive power supply method Fixed cosφ Δp L (t ) = c self + cv ⋅ ⎜ AC ⎟ + ⎜ ⎟ + c R ⎜⎜ ⎜ ⎟+⎜ ⎟ ⎟⎟ ⎝ S ⎠ ⎝ S ⎠ ⎝⎝ S ⎠ ⎝ S ⎠⎠ Inverter lifetime 10 years Discount rate 5% ⎡ ⎛ P (t*) ⎞ 2 ⎛ P (t*) ⎞ ⎤⎥ 2 − ⎢c self + cv ⋅ ⎜ AC ⎟ + c R ⎜ AC ⎟ ⎢ ⎝ S ⎠ ⎝ S ⎠ ⎥⎦ Voltage profile for Q(U) droop function ⎣ For the simulations of the Q(U) reactive power supply (3) method a voltage profile for the point of common coupling (PCC) is needed as an input value for the . For the fixed cosφ method a power factor of 0. 3 COST CATEGORIES This section describes the single cost categories which Figure 2: Investigated cosφ(P) characteristics. compared to pure Module orientation 0° (south) Module technology Polycrystalline silicon active power feed-in. following the calculations for a PCC in a rural low voltage network. These are: equipped with a 30 kWp PV generator and fluctuating loads. The specific investment A = C inv ⋅ with q =1 + i q n − 1 ⎢⎣ yr ⎥⎦ costs of the inverter are assumed as 320 €/ kVA.. Mid-Germany power by PV inverters leads to additional active power Module tilt angle 30° losses ΔPL [kW] within the inverter. The voltage profile depicts the steady state voltage • A fixed cosφ method (fixed power factor) magnitude after reactive power supply. Q(U) droop function are depicted in figure 2 and 3.inverter efficiency / Euro-eta 97. Investment Costs for Inverters: The total investment costs of PV inverters Cinv [€] are calculated by multiplying the nominal apparent power of the inverter S [kVA] with the specific investment costs of the inverter c [€/ kVA].9 and 0. suggestions in [3] and [4]. Figure 4: Voltage bandwidth for the investigation of the Q(U) methods.u.997 p. The black dashed line depicts the 5% minimum respectively maximum voltage values. transform the total investment costs into constant annual payment rates. These constant annual investment costs are called the annuity A of the investment costs and are Reference scenario: determined by the inverters lifetime n (10 years) and the The following specifications are considered for the discount rate i (5%). The reimbursement follows the recent version of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act q n ⋅ (q − 1) ⎡ € ⎤ (2) for PV generators up to 30 kWp.

Here.Q =0 + ΔCopp ⎢ yr ⎥ ⎣ ⎦ Costs by additional opportunity losses: Opportunity losses in general occur. ⎛T ⎞ ⎡€⎤ ΔCoperational = ⎜⎜ ∫ Δp L (t ) ⎟⎟ ⋅ S ⋅ co = ΔE L ⋅ S ⋅ co ⎢ ⎥ (4) ⎝ t =1 ⎠ ⎣ yr ⎦ ⎛T ⎞ ⎡€⎤ ΔCopp = ⎜⎜ ∫ ΔPopp . Q(t ) ≠ 0 and Q(t*) = 0 The annual additional operational costs ΔCoperational [€/ yr] Figure 5: PQ-Diagram for a PV inverter.Q ≠ 0 which is only due Figure 6 shows the respective characteristics of the to the additional reactive power provision is called different cost categories for the reference scenario using additional opportunity losses ΔPopp. are the annual additional costs compared to the annual costs of ΔPopp .Q≠0 + Coperational .Q≠0 ⎢ yr ⎥ reactive power output Q(t) (compare figure 5).Q =0 (t ) [kW ] (6) an inverter without reactive power provision and a sizing ratio Smax/ PDCmax of 1. The costs respectively savings. losses ΔEL [kWh/(kVA yr)] multiplied with the current The PV energy which cannot be fed-in (ΔEopp) [kWh/ yr] reimbursement for PV energy co [€/ kWh] and the size of due to reactive power supply. Now. leads to the so called additional opportunity costs ΔCopp [€/ yr]. Smax = maximum apparent power of the inverter [kVA] Q(t) = reactive power provision at time t [kvar] ΔpL = specific additional operational losses [kW/ kVA] PDC(t) = DC power generation at time t [kW] .Q ≠0 (t ) = Popp . cv [-] for the voltage dependent losses and cR [kWp/ kW] for the current dependant losses within the inverter. the CQ≠0 = f ( s) → min (10) active power reduction Popp.Q ≠ 0 (t ) ⎟⎟ ⋅ co = ΔEopp ⋅ co ⎢ ⎥ (8) ⎝ t =1 ⎠ ⎣ yr ⎦ The total operational costs of an inverter with reactive power provision Coperational.Q ≠0 (t ) − Popp .Q≠ 0 [kW] does not only with ⎡ € ⎤ (11) depend on the DC power generation. power generation exceeds the sizing of the inverter. For the same generator DC power output (PDC) the active power output of the inverter PAC is different PAC (t ) ≠ PAC (t*) when reactive power has to be provided.Q=0 and the additional opportunity costs ΔCopp. considering reactive power provision by PV inverters. This might happen during [kVA/ kWp] where the total annual inverter costs CQ≠0 times of high solar irradiation. ΔPopp . when the current DC are at its minimum. but also on the CQ≠0 = A + Copp . The part ⎣ ⎦ of the total opportunity losses Popp.Q≠0 [kW].Q≠0 [€/ yr] can be calculated as The total opportunity costs Copp.9. cself stands for the standby losses [kW/ kWp]. the goal is to find the specific inverter sizing s PV inverter has to be reduced.Q≠0 comprise of the Coperational . Q ≠ 0 = Coperational . ⎡€⎤ (9) Copp . reimbursement for PV energy co [€/ kWh]. if the active power output of a Now. a fixed cosφ method with a power factor of 0. Q = 0 + ΔCoperational (5) regular opportunity costs Copp.Q ≠0 = Copp . considering also the operational costs by active power feed-in Coperational.Q=0 [€/ yr]. assessed with the current the inverter S [kVA]. explaining the is the product of the specific annual additional energy different kinds of opportunity costs.Q ≠0 (t ) = S max (1 − Δp L (t ) ) − S max − Q(t ) 2 [kW ] (7) 2 Here. depicted on the Y-axes.

7% + 12% 4 COST OPTIMAL INVERTER SIZING – A SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS Figure 9 shows the total annual savings for an exemplary In this section sensitivity analyses with respect to an 30 kWp PV inverter (economically optimized) compared economically optimized inverter sizing are discussed.9 + 2. Index (1) depicts those methods with a minimum power factor of 0.9 (as currently discussed for generators installed in Germany with more than 13. due to reactive power supply. According to the introduced: recently discussed German guideline for the connection • Different reactive power supply methods of generators to the low voltage network [3]. Table 2 depicts the additional sizing of the PV inverter by reactive power supply which is necessary to keep the sizing economically optimized.9.8 kVA [3]) and index (2) all methods with a minimum power factor of 0. by applying the introduced reactive economically optimized inverter sizing and for the annual power supply methods.72 kVA/ kWp for the investigated year with specific depends on the location of the PV system’s point of additional annual savings of 8 €/ (kW yr) compared to an common coupling (PCC). to the total annual costs of a PV inverter with a The results for the following sensitivity analyses are suboptimal sizing of 1 kVA/ kWp.3% + 6.95 (as currently discussed for generators installed in Germany with less than 13. Min. leading to lower annual savings compared to pure active power feed-in.9 show a higher optimized sizing than their respective subversion with a minimum power factor of 0. Figure 6: Single cost categories for an economically optimized inverter sizing. Germany. the economically optimized inverter sizing view. Table 2: Additional sizing of PV inverters to keep point of minimal costs. all methods with a minimum power factor of 0.95. the additional costs might inverter sizing of 1 kVA/ kWp. Now. For this investigation.6% + 4. Because of this. The figure shows the importance of the Figure 8 shows the economical optimal inverter sizing for single reactive power supply methods for an Kassel. The economically voltage would lead to the lowest annual additional costs optimized inverter sizing is plotted on the X-axis.3% 0% + 2. Due to the fact that a lower minimum power factor leads to more reactive power provision during one year. Since the Q(U) method strongly 0. It can be seen that by providing reactive power with a fixed power factor of 0. Figure 7: Additional sizing.9 are Reactive power supply methods considered. The single reactive power supply methods can be distinguished by the color of the respective bubbles. If no by reactive power supply (additional costs are the reactive power is supplied at all. 12% for the reference scenario. Figure 8: Economically optimized inverter sizing and the specific costs respectively savings by different reactive power supply methods. using a Q(U) inverter costs respectively savings compared to the method with a deadband of ± 2% of the nominal reference are plotted on the Y-axis. Q(U) methods tend to cause reactive power . increases. providing reactive change for different PCCs. From a technical point of power.8 kVA [3]). the economically difference between the annual savings with and without optimized inverter sizing for Kassel would be reactive power supply).7% + 1. Power Q(U) Fixed Q(U) Cosφ(P) Factor deadband Cosφ 0. PV systems • Alignment of the PV module with an installed capacity of 30 kWp would have to • Location of the PV system provide a minimum power factor of 0.95 + 1. Figure 7 compares the characteristics of the total annual inverter costs for an inverter with reactive power provision and an inverter without (reference scenario).9. • Costs and reimbursements only the respective subversions of the reactive power supply methods with a minimum power factor of 0.7% 0. the economical inverter sizing has to be increased by approx. The specific additional annual inverter costs.

The slight shift of the sizing indicates that the influence of the location of the PV values towards east is due to the temperature on the solar system on the additional sizing. several locations in Europe were In this subsection. On the other hand. Figure 11 depicts the specific additional inverter costs by Future costs and reimbursements developments providing a fixed power factor of 0. the influence of the alignment of the investigated for PV systems providing a fixed power PV modules on the economically optimized inverter factor of 0. profiles are based on the Meteonorm® database. This systems in Germany [1]. A power factor of 0.oscillations within the network [9]. This is sizing and the specific costs respectively savings of the due to higher average solar irradiation on the tilted reference scenario. Figure 10 shows the economically optimized inverter On the one hand. the DC power generation [10]. It can be seen that the additional reactive power provision increases the additional costs and the economically . fixed cosφ method. the economically worst way of providing reactive power is to use a fixed power factor method. due to reactive power module.95.95 (compare In this paragraph the influence of reimbursement rates for Figure 9) compared to the reference scenario at different PV energy and investment costs of the PV inverter on the tilt and orientation angles. Figure 10: Economically optimized inverter sizing depending on the orientation and tilt angle of the PV module by using a Figure 12: Economically optimized inverter sizing depending fixed power factor of 0. The irradiation sizing is discussed. is marginal. For the PV plant operator. In this subsection.95.95 is considered for the opportunity costs during operation. It can be seen that the highest economically optimized inverter sizing are discussed. depending on the reimbursement for surface and therefore influences the additional PV energy. additional costs by reactive power occur in cases where Figure 13 shows the economically optimized inverter the PV module is aligned energetically optimized. Therefore. Figure 11: Specific additional inverter costs by using a fixed power factor of 0. the results show that there are sizing depending on the orientation of the PV modules significant differences for an economically optimized for the reference scenario by using a fixed cosφ method inverter sizing depending on the location of the PV with a power factor of 0. Higher temperatures during noon usually reduce supply. The results show a strong system in Europe.95 (compare Figure 12). the ratio of the correlation between the energy yield and the optimal inverter sizing with reactive power supply and economically optimized sizing of a PV inverter at without reactive power supply is almost constant with different module orientation and tilt angles for PV +6% to +7% for all of the investigated locations. the influence of the location of the PV system on the economically optimized inverter sizing is Alignment of the PV modules discussed. on different location within Europe. Figure 9: Total annual savings of a 30 kWp PV system in Location of PV systems Germany by an economically optimized inverter sizing.95.

Figure 13: Economically optimized inverter sizing and related costs considering different reimbursement rates. N. pp. B. reimbursement rates will lead to lower economically It turned out that the influence of the orientation and tilt optimized inverter sizings.V. Generators. 2010-04- The cost categories of a PV inverter were analysed in 27 order to determine the influence of reactive power [8] Braun. In future. Kassel.. Optimal Reactive Power Supply in Distribution Networks – Technological and Economic Assessment for PV-Systems.(2008). M. Pittsburgh. J. Simulations. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors thank the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. 25th Symposium Photovoltaic for the PV inverter. S. lower method. Technical Condition for the Connection to the medium-voltage network.. economically optimized inverter size decreases with SMA+optimale+Auslegung-PV-Anlage.0 – 5 CONCLUSIONS Handbook part II: Theory. (2008). 2010 [7] METEOTEST (2010). 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition.... This is PV system Germany showed a wide range for the due to the fact that the costs by operational inverter additional sizing of up to +12% compared to no reactive losses and opportunity losses gain in importance at power provision. Rective Power Supply by Distributed provision on the economically optimized inverter sizing. Further simulations showed that decreasing reimbursement rates for PV energy lower the economically optimized inverter sizing while decreasing investment costs lead to the opposite effect.vde.Wo liegt das Optimum? 18th Symposium cost reduction in future will hence lead to bigger inverter Photovoltaic Solar Energy. depending on the specific investment costs for the [1] SMA Regelsysteme GmbH. M. Version 6. (2009).120. Stetz. Die optimale Auslegung einer netzgekoppelten PV- PV inverter. Bad Staffelstein. Wirtschaftlich optimierte Figure 14: Economically optimized inverter sizing and Blindleistungsbereitstellung durch Photovoltaikanlagen in related cost considering different specific investment costs Niederspannungsnetzen. Reimann.optimized sizing compared to pure active power feed-in. The authors are solely responsible for the content of this publication. REFERENCES Figure 14 shows the economically optimized inverter sizing. 2003 opportunity and additional inverter losses (which Published at: increase with increasing reimbursement rates). Department Solartechnics (2003).. (VDN) (2010). (2010). the power supply method itself. Erzeugungsanlagen am Nieder- in. 2008 [5] Braun. economically optimized inverter sizing is the reactive The higher the reimbursement rates for PV energy. the http://www.2010) increasing specific investment costs. Proceedings IEEE Power and Energy Society The results of the investigations show that the sizing of – General Meeting. 2009 [6] Stetz. 2003. Nijs. Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (PTJ) for the support within the framework of the project “PV- EMS” (FKZ 0325028). Arnold. Belmans. Islam. Valov. Possible investment Netzkopplung . Hamburg.. e.01. (2003).pdf (13. conducted for a higher the economically optimized inverter sizing. savings potential by an economically optimized sizing Unterdimensionieren des Wechselrichters bei der will be increased (see right Y-axes). angle as well as the location of the PV system on the additional inverter sizing due to reactive power is marginal. T. M. Solar Energy. By the increasing specific investment costs for the PV inverter also the [2] Woyte. Bern. B. A. 433- 438. Braun. 2008 PV inverters should be adapted to reactive power provision. In contrast to the energy dependent costs by Anlage – Vorabausgabe. METEONORM Version 6. Berlin [4] German Association of Energy and Water Industries e. sizes.. One of the major influencing factors on an . Bad Staffelstein. spannungsnetz Technische Mindestanforderungen für Anschluss und Parallelbetrieb von Erzeugungsanlagen am Niederspannungsnetz – Draft of 07-08-2010. depending on the reactive power supply higher reimbursement rates. The additional provision of reactive power increases the economically optimized inverter sizing and [3] Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik the additional costs compared to pure active power feed.sonne-nrw.V. G. T..

issue 80 (2006). 2010 [10] Burger. Meyer. Inverter sizing of grid- connected photovoltaic systems in the light of local solar resource distribution characteristics and temperature. B. Backes. E. Wieben. J. [9] Schaupp. R. Elsevier Solar Energy. (2006). Rühter.. T. 2006 View publication stats . page 32-45.. T. Bad Staffelstein.. 25th Symposium Photovoltaic Solar Energy. (2010). Entwicklung und Untersuchung von Solarwechselrichtern mit spannungsabhängiger Blindleistungseinspeisung in Labor und Feld..