XXX  IEC:201X



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Design guidelines and recommandations for photovoltaic power plants


Scope and purpose

This technical specification (TS) sets out general guidelines and recommendations for the design and installation of photovoltaic (PV) power plants. A PV power plant is defined as a grid-connected, ground mounted system of at least 1 MW, comprising multiple sub-arrays and interconnected directly to a utility’s medium voltage or high voltage grid. Technical areas addressed are those that largely distinguish PV power plants from smaller, more conventional installations, including ground mounted array configurations, cable routing methods, cable selection, overcurrent protection strategies, equipotential bonding over large geographical areas, inverter and medium voltage transformer sizing and siting, medium voltage collection systems, grid interconnection, and auxiliary and communication services. Safety requirements are largely dependent on existing referenced IEC standards, and in general existing standards are referenced wherever possible for uniformity. Emphasis is placed on systems employing large scale central inverters, but sections are also applicable to systems employing AC modules, string level inverters or DC/DC converters. Large rooftop mounted systems are not included in the scope of this document because of the unique design considerations that are common to rooftop systems in general, and which are being addressed in a separate standard. This TS addresses PV system design and installation topics that are essential to power plant applications but largely absent from existing PV system and related standards. Power plants are a significant and growing component of the PV market, yet design methodologies range considerably, partly due to the fact that systems are not accessible to the public or nonqualified personnel. Overall guidelines are still needed to ensure safe, reliable, and productive systems.


Normative References

The following referenced documents are indispensable for the application of this document. For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition of the referenced document (including any amendments) applies. Informational (i.e. dispensable) references are included in the bibliography. IEC 60287 (all parts), Electric cables – Calculation of the current rating IEC 60364 (all parts), Low-voltage electrical installations IEC 60364-4-41, Low-voltage electrical installations – Part 4-41: Protection for safety – Protection against electric shock FOR Enclosures, substation buildings, O&M buildings, etc: IEC 60364-5-53 Electrical installations of buildings - Part 5-53: Selection and erection of electrical equipment - Isolation, switching and control IEC 60364-5-54, Electrical installations of buildings – Part 5-54: Selection and erection of electrical equipment – Earthing arrangements, protective conductors and protective bonding conductors IEC 60449, Voltage bands for electrical installations of buildings IEC 60529, Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code)

IEC 62446. Use of conventional touch voltage limits . Photovoltaic (PV) systems . and inspection requirements IEC 61727. IEC 62109-2 Safety of power conversion equipment for use in photovoltaic power systems -Part 2: Particular requirements for inverters. IEC 61730-1.Minimum requirements for system documentation. modules  De s ig n q u a lific a tio n a n d typ e Photovoltaic module safety qualification. IEC 61730-2. Thin film te rre s tria l p h o to vo lta ic (P V) approval EN 61730-1. data exchange and analysis Publications issued by TC 8 .Guidelines for measurement.Power conditioners .Characteristics of the utility interface IEC 62548 .Installation and Safety Requirements for Photovoltaic (PV) Generators.Minimum requirements for system documentation. Low voltage surge protective devicesa rt 1 2 : S u rg e p ro te c tive d e vic e s  P connected to low voltage power distribution systems e le c tio n a n d a p p lic a tio n p rin c ip le s S IEC 61646. IEC 62446 Grid connected photovoltaic systems . definitions and symbols IEC 62109-1 Safety of power conversion equipment for use in photovoltaic power systems -Part 1: General requirements.XXX  IEC:201X –2– 82/639/NP 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 IEC 61140.Terms. Protection against electric shock – Common aspects for installation and equipment IEC 61201. Grid connected PV systems .Procedure for measuring efficiency IEC 61724 Photovoltaic system performance monitoring . Solar photovoltaic energy systems . commissioning tests.Requirements for testing IEC 61836.Application guide IEC 61215.Requirements for construction Photovoltaic module safety qualification. commissioning tests and inspection IEC 62116 Test procedure of islanding prevention measures for utility-interconnected photovoltaic inverters IEC 62093 Balance-of-system components for photovoltaic systems -.Requirements for testing Photovoltaic module safety list) IEC 61683 Photovoltaic systems .Design qualification natural environments IEC 61829 Crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) array .Requirements for construction Photovoltaic module safety qualification. EN 61730-2.iec.On-site measurement of I-V characteristics (not on www. Crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules s ig n q u a li  De type approval fication and IEC 61643-12.

4. International Electrotechnical Vocabulary Generation. 1. IEC standard voltages IEC 60059 (1999-06).. 1. This is not often found in existing PV power plants due to the time and labor associated with making the adjustments twice a year. Arrays are fixed typically at the site latitude angle +/.1 General PV power plant designs can be categorized by the PV array configurations and the inverter configurations employed.Impact of renewable energy sources on grid planning and operation PNW 8-1284 Ed..0.2 Fixed tilt arrays Fixed tilt arrays use structures that orient PV modules at an azimuth and tilt angle that is fixed year round. IEC standard current ratings IEC/PAS 62559 (2008-01) Ed.0 B.15 degrees to optimize annual generation. Pros and cons.. transmission and distribution of electricity . 1. 1. IntelliGrid methodology for developing requirements for energy systems ??? IEC 60050-614 Ed.. More. Most common for power plants is the N-S axis tracker. 4.. Pros and cons .0. The most typical adjustable tilt array uses a higher angle tilt setting for winter months and a lower angle tilt setting for summer months.4 Single axis tracking arrays Single axis tracking arrays employ structures rotate PV modules along a single axis to follow the sun’s path. Power Quality of Energy Supply .. 1. Pros and cons.. A white paper .XXX  IEC:201X –3– 82/639/NP 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 IEC 60038 (2009-06) Ed. which rotates the modules from east to west throughout the course of a day..Characterization of power quality from the point of view of the electrical energy suppliers PNW 8-1285 Ed.3 Adjustable tilt arrays Adjustable tilt arrays are essentially fixed tilt arrays that can be manually adjusted once or more per year. Standard calculation methods of performance indexes for energy supply..Operation IEC 60050(614) IEC 62511 TR Ed.0.0 E. but may be tilted at other angles to achieve specific performance objectives.Power system reliability in a deregulated electricity market environment PNW 8-1275 Ed.0.. 7. 3 4 Terms and definitions Ground-mounted PV array configurations 4. 1. 4. Guidelines on dispersed generation .

8 String or module inverter configurations Similar description and example figure.6 Dual-axis tracking arrays 4.9 PV and Concentrator Classification of systems using standard flat panel PV versus those using concentrating PV. The figure below shows an example 1 MW centralized inverter layout using a N-S single axis tracker. 4. The inverters are centralized within the array to minimize the total lengths of DC cable. both low and high concentration. particularly with multimegawatt sized systems. 124 125 126 127 128 129 4.5 Azimuth tracking arrays 4. The MV AC output of the container connects to a substation north of the array. . The transformer steps the AC voltage up to a standard medium voltage level. A common centralized inverter design approach includes a group of inverters totalling 500 kW to 2 MW installed together in a housing container or on an equipment pad along with a medium voltage transformer. such as 20 kV.7 Central inverter configurations Plants designed with large centralized inverters are most common.XXX  IEC:201X –4– 82/639/NP 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 4.

XXX  IEC:201X –5– 82/639/NP 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 5 Module wiring 5. given the inverter minimum MPPT voltage. 5. 5.3. stress on junction boxes. stress from wind vibration.3.1 Sizing of series strings For PV plants using string or centralized inverters. 5.1. 5. electrical efficiency. . 5. site specific weather factors.2 Sizing of string conductors Determine the string conductor size (ampacity) given maximum short circuit currents. guidelines for routing cables in plants. a power plant design may warrant a greater evaluation of variables to optimize the string lengths for electrical and cost efficiency.1 Considerations due to temperature Determining the design low and design high temperature (statistical data at site).1 Cable ratings List recommendations for cable voltage and insulation ratings given various designs. 5. the inverter’s high voltage withstand. Determine the maximum recommended string voltage at the low design temperature. overcurrent protection ratings. 5.3. voltage drop on the conductors. including the transition of cable from moving arrays (tracker assemblies) to fixed raceways. For examples.3 Cable securement Recommendations and guidelines for securing the cables to limit physical damage.1. etc.2 Considerations due to inverter voltage window Determine the minimum recommended string voltage at the high design temperature. 5.3 Considerations due to inverter efficiency Determine the efficiency trade off of using the highest possible string voltages to minimize power loss in the DC conductors and using lower string voltages to maximize the inverter efficiencies.2 Cable protection from physical damage Recommendations and guidelines for exposed module to module wiring to protect from physical damage. voltage degradation over time. mismatch. Criteria may differ from plant to plant.1. However.4 Cable routing and transitions Define common methods. the process for determining the appropriate number of modules to be connected in a series string is mostly similar to that of standard commercial or rooftop PV systems. other based on levelized cost of energy over the life of the plant. and string voltage calculations that incorporate impact of irradiance on cell temperatures. stress on connectors. given the inverter maximum OC voltage rating. and cost.3.3 Module wiring methods 5. some based on maximum delivered efficiency at full power.

4 String conductor overcurrent protection 5.4.1. 6.1.2 String conductor fault scenarios Define a matrix of fault scenarios on strings. and isolation with respect to long term operation and maintenance procedures.5 Fuse selection Define recommended or required fuse types and ratings. etc. effectiveness of overvoltage protection. 6. including line to line. 6. Thin-film based systems will differ from standard crystalline based systems.XXX  IEC:201X –6– 82/639/NP 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 5. string count. connectors. junction boxes. 5.2.6 Circuit breaker selection Define guidelines and considerations for use of circuit breakers for string protection.4. faults to other circuits. 6 PV sub-array design 6. and level of lightning activity at a specific location.1 Arrangement of sub-array junction boxes This section focuses on decision making for size. and arrangement of sub-array junction boxes with the criteria of plant design cost-efficiency.4 Protection against fire Define guidelines for evaluating overcurrent protection effectiveness in protecting against fire. 6. 5. 5.1. 5.3 Protection of components Determine module and component protection needs given maximum reverse current ratings. ground faults.4. .4. requirements of personnel. 5.4. and evaluation of fault scenarios.1 Cable ratings List recommendations for cable voltage and insulation ratings given various designs.1 General Define guidelines for multi-criteria approach to overcurrent protection of module strings.2 Sub-array wiring methods 6. given failure mode of modules.4.1 Considerations due to cable electrical losses Define considerations and methods for calculating losses and cable costs for different subarray junction box arrangements.2 Considerations due to lightning and over-voltage protection Identify considerations for sizing boxes based on cable distances.3 Considerations due to operation and maintenance Identify considerations of sub-array junction box arrangements. locations.

2.2.4 6.3.3 Sub-array conductor sizing This section will have discussions similar to those described for string conductors in the sections above.2 Use of ducts in trenches Define recommendations for use and selection of underground ducts or conduit. specific to PV plant applications.3. and communication circuits.2.2. physical support.4 6.2 Conductor ratings for voltage-drop and losses Similar to discussions in Section 5.2. 6. 6. and therefore greater risk of terminal stress and weakening connections. including laying methods. specific to PV plant applications. This section will make recommendations for addressing these issues. with focus on guidelines for their proper sizing and safe installation. Protection of components Similar to discussions in Section 5.4 6. mixed use cable. including thermal issues. specific to PV plant applications. MV circuits. 6. separation of AC and DC circuits. etc.2.2. use of tray covers.4 Sub-array conductor overcurrent protection Similar to discussions in Section 5. 6. perforated trays.XXX  IEC:201X –7– 82/639/NP 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 6.1 Conductor ratings for fault protection Similar to discussions in Section 5.2.4 6. 6.4 .1 Use of cable trays Define recommendations for use and selection of cable trays.5 Use of aluminium conductors Provide discussion of selection of aluminium conductor for main PV DC circuits. guidelines for routing sub-array cables in plants.2 Cable routing and transitions Define common methods.4 Use of copper conductors Provide discussion of selection of copper conductor for main DC circuits. Aluminium conductors have greater Issues associated with expansion and contraction if exposed in to sunlight thermal-cycling then copper conductors.4. 6.3 Use of direct burial cable Define recommendations for use of direct buried underground cable.2 Protection against fire Similar to discussions in Section 5.

3 6.1. 7. 6.2 6.XXX  IEC:201X –8– 82/639/NP 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 6. Overcurrent protection of PV array circuits Describe methods and cost-design trade-offs of different overcurrent protection methods at inverters.4 6. 6.5 Sub-array junction boxes 6.2 6. e.6. 6.6.1 Component electrical rating Define guidelines for specifying the proper component electrical ratings from PV and circuit information.g.4.) but also describe practical clearance issues found in PV plant applications.4 Circuit breaker selection Similar to discussions in Section 5.6.1 Collection of PV array circuits Describe typical approaches and design guidelines for collecting sub-array circuits at central inverter location.5.3 Fuse selection Similar to discussions in Section 6.1. or adequately protecting the enclosure to meet its rating.3 Location and mounting methods Define typical approaches and recommendations for box mounting given different location scenarios. . 6.6 Sub-array disconnecting means Provide a general discussion of sub-array disconnecting approaches.1 6.6.3 Locations of disconnects Considerations for safety Considerations for fire protection Considerations for operation and maintenance Disconnect electrical ratings Disconnect environmental ratings 7 Central inverter interface design 7.1.2 Component environmental ratings Define guidelines for specifying the proper component environmental ratings for a specific installation type. based on criteria in subsections below.5.5.4 Clearance requirements Identify references to clearance requirements (for control boxes.4 6.

4. etc. It will also discuss issues to address and lessons learned.3 Isolation of PV array circuits Describe methods and cost-design trade-offs of different DC circuit isolation methods at inverters.2 Access to components by public and unqualified personnel Access to components by qualified personnel only 8.XXX  IEC:201X –9– 82/639/NP 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 7.2 8.3 Considerations for fire protection 8.4 Lightning protection 8.3. 8. etc.4 Inverter container configurations Show examples of inverter container configurations. exits.1 8.3.3 8.1 General The sections below will provide guidelines and specifications for the different aspects of earthing design. 7.4 8. Identify guidelines and recommendations for protection of equipment.5 Inverter equipment pad configurations Show examples of inverter equipment pad configurations. use of shade structures.4.4 Protection of modules and sub-arrays Protection of junction boxes Protection of inverter equipment containers and pads .3 8.2. Identify references for the various requirements.1 General levels of protection The sections in 8.2 Considerations for safety 8. Define classifications (such as building vs. specific to PV plant applications.2. 8. fencing.3.4 will describe lightning protection equipment methods commonly employed in PV plants.3. including in locations with high activity.4. 8 PV array earthing system 8.2 8. container).5 Earth-fault protection Protection against arcing currents Use of ungrounded DC circuits Use of high-ohmic grounded DC circuits Use of grounded DC circuits 8. 7. which if classified for occupation has different requirements for clearance.

1 Selection of collection system voltage Define guidelines and recommendations for selecting collection system voltages based on plant power ratings.XXX  IEC:201X – 10 – 82/639/NP 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 8. Define specifications specific to PV system applications. Collection system configurations 9.3 Medium voltage transformers 9.2 Open-loop systems Discuss additional benefits and costs of designing open-loop collection systems.3. Call out references to applicable IEC switchgear standards. 9.3 Considerations for redundancy Considerations for effectiveness and economy 9 Medium voltage collection system design 9.2 8.4 will include guidelines for selection of different MV switchgear design approaches.2. .5. 9. References to applicable IEC transformer standards.2. as well as specialized transformers commonly used when connecting multiple inverters. 8. 9.4 Medium voltage switchgear 9.1 Objectives The sections in 8.3 9.3 to include guidelines and specifications for oil-filled and dry-type transformers.1 Location Section 9.3.5 Equipotential bonding of array fields and structures 8.1 Radial systems Discuss low cost collection system designs using radial systems. 9.5 will describe equipotential bonding design methods for reducing the risk and impact of nearby lightning strikes. for equipment at the inverter pads or at centralized collector stations (substations).2.3 Closed-loop systems Discuss additional benefits and costs of designing closed-loop collection systems.5. Example layout diagrams to be included.4. including the equipment choices.2 9. inverter pad sizes and distances.5.4 9.5 Transformer types Installation Electrical ratings Protection 9.3. pros and cons.1 Design criteria Section 9.

6.5. 9.4 9. The design typically involves a cost trade-off analysis of providing a separate system – sometimes metered separately from the PV production. or tapping off of .3 9.2 Sizing considerations Underground systems Trench configurations Cable in ducts Direct burial Routing with DC.4 Electrical ratings Minimum protection requirements Minimum disconnect requirements Cable rating Section 9. and communication circuits Overhead systems Overhead equipment routing Clearance from arrays Discuss overhead line clearance issues specific to PV systems. 9.6 Utility interface Discuss standard utility interconnection issues – but focus on considerations specific to PV plants – such as intermittency and use of inverters as mitigation for protection and control requirements.3 9.2 9.2 9.2 9.5 Medium voltage cable 9.1 9.4.2 9.3 Considerations for protective relaying at point of connection Considerations for relay coordination Considerations for generator control requirements Control of real power Control of reactive power Control of voltage 10 Auxiliary power systems 10.4.3 Shading considerations Provide Identify shading impact of overhead lines and utility poles on nearby arrays.3. 9.5.1 9.5. 9.5.XXX  IEC:201X – 11 – 82/639/NP 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 9.1 9.1 General Provide design guidelines and recommendations for design of auxiliary power systems given load requirements. guidelines and recommendations for minimizing impact.5 will include guidelines for selection of MV cable for conditions of use.2 9.6. LV AC. Call out references to applicable IEC cabling standards. 9.4. highlighting PV system specific considerations.6.

International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 151: Electrical and magnetic devices IEC 60050-195:1998.XXX  IEC:201X – 12 – 82/639/NP 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 the PV power output circuits to supply loads locally at pads.3 10. Energy consumption is typically low throughout the field unless significant inverter container cooling is required. Electrical installations of buildings – Part 7-712: Requirements for special installations or locations – Solar photovoltaic (PV) power supply systems IEC 60904-2. Photovoltaic devices − Part 3: Measurement principles photovoltaic (PV) solar devices with reference spectral irradiance data for terrestrial IEC 61277.1.4 10.1. LV AC. switching and control IEC 60364-7-712:2002.1. LV AC and MV AC circuits 12 Acceptance – Inspection/Commissioning 13 Operation and Maintenance 14 Bibliography IEC 60050-151:2001. installations International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 826: Electrical IEC 60364-5-53.2 10. International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 195: Earthing and protection against electric shock IEC 60050-442:1998.2 General design considerations and examples Routing with DC. Electrical installations of buildings –Selection and erection of electrical equipment – Isolation. 10.1. Terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) power generating systems – General and guide .1.5 10. International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 442: Electrical accessories IEC 60050-461:1984.6 Considerations for PV field AC electrical loads Considerations for inverter/equipment pad electrical loads Auxiliary power service sizing Protection of circuits Segregation of DC. Photovoltaic devices − Part 2: Requirements for reference solar cells IEC 60904-3.1. International Electro-technical Vocabulary – Part 461: Electric cables IEC 60050-826:2004.1. and MV AC circuits 11 Communications systems 11.1 11.

Crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) array − On-site measurement of I-V characteristics IEC 61836. in preparation. . Solar photovoltaic energy systems – Terms and symbols 1) IEC 62246-2. 2) To be published.XXX  IEC:201X – 13 – 82/639/NP 400 401 402 403 IEC 61829. Reed contact units – Part 2: Heavy-duty reed switches 2) ————————— 1) Second edition.